Saturday 31 October 2009

The Window Cleaner: Glass Action

The window cleaner: Glass action - In Dave Lugsden's van, there's no ladder – just ultra-light poles and an on-board filtered water supply. George Formby this ain't, writes Graham Snowdon.

'Feel this; that's 995 grams," says Dave Lugsden, thrusting a long pole proudly into my hands. I give it a jiggle, then a quick swish through the air, Luke Skywalker-style. It does feel pretty lightweight. We are standing in the driveway of a perfectly manicured bungalow in the outer suburbs of Bournemouth, not only smack-bang in the heart of curtain-twitching territory, but quite possibly the very spot where curtain-twitching was invented. Already I'm wondering if the burden of profiling this innuendo-laden occupation might not prove too much, and not just because When I'm Cleaning Windows – George Formby's cheeky ukulele homage to the trade – has been jangling around my head all afternoon.

In his smart blue fatigues, Lugsden looks tanned and healthy in the autumn sunshine. The pole and brush in his hand is hooked up, via the yellow hose, to the water supply in the van; he twizzles a small valve on his belt and a jet of water squirts from the end of his brush. "Now the technology's there, the job's a lot easier," he admits, briskly scrubbing the bungalow's front window. "When I started 10 years ago, you could set up for a hundred quid and still make an OK living. But I fell off my ladder twice in the first two years. It was horrendous." Fortunately he escaped serious injury, and when he was tipped off about a new system that would let him reach six floors up without a ladder, little further encouragement was needed.

We peer into the back of his pristine blue and yellow van, which, far from containing an assortment of sponges and buckets, is half broom cupboard, half scientific laboratory. Besides his poles, neatly racked inside the roof, there are a couple of 2,000-litre plastic water tanks, two reels of bright yellow hose, something resembling a traffic cone, and a digital sensor that monitors the pump flow of water from the tanks through the pole to the end of his brush – "the secret" from which he has built up his company, Pole Position, to become Bournemouth's dominant window cleaning firm. No doubt Formby would have been pleased to see there is still an honest bob to be earned from window cleaning, although he might have struggled to work some of the modern-day technological nuances into his lyrics; for example, the distinction between "pure water" and "tap water", which I had assumed was just marketing blurb. "Oh no," Lugsden says, earnestly. "It goes through six filters and it's absolutely pure. Tap water is 400 parts [impurities] per million; this is zero. If it goes over seven parts per million, it leaves marks on the windows."

Critically, the water's purity means it needs no detergent and no wiping afterwards, speeding up the job considerably. In summer, that can create enough time to clean 15 to 20 houses a day – a gruelling enough schedule – but it's in winter when discipline is really needed. "When it's dark at half four, if you have an hour for lunch and you're chatting with the customers, you've had it," he says. "If you don't get the whole daily worksheet done, we're so busy that I've got nowhere else to reschedule the customer. And that's when you lose them." How could I have failed to notice the advent of window cleaners transporting 800 litres of their own microfiltered water around with them? Part of the reason is that many of us never see them at work. "About half my customers are never in when I come round," he points out. "Some of them I've never met in five or six years of cleaning their windows." Lugsden marches round the back of the bungalow, flicking his hose expertly past a terracotta plant pot in the driveway. So far he has scrubbed two big windows and I've glimpsed nothing more scandalous than a cream sofa set against a maroon carpet. Disappointingly, he seems much more interested in his side of the glass.

"Anyone can get a window wet and it looks clean," he says dismissively, sploshing water over a double-glazed patio door. "But if you use water that's not pure, or you haven't rinsed it properly, it'll go all spotty and smeary." Despite the recession, he is comfortably expanding his business, with three vans – two of them subcontracted to other window cleaners – already in the fleet and a fourth planned for next year. A salesman is employed to knock on doors, drumming up business in new parts of town. Perched on the slightly dog-haired passenger seat normally reserved for his springer spaniel, Murphy, he shows me a pile of neatly arranged customer worksheets, all of which are linked to an online payment system. It looks more like a courier schedule than a window cleaner's round.

"It's the beauty of it," he explains enthusiastically. "I had a dabble into carpet cleaning a while back; you spend a lot of time doing the quote, then it's a hundred quid or so, then it's done. With window cleaning, once you've got the customer and been professional with them, you can come back every few months. It runs itself." This sounds like a rather modest assessment; it seems to me that Lugsden has built up his business with impressive drive and clarity. Does this not lead to friction with other local window cleaners? "I wave at everyone, but you do get to know the ones who don't wave back," he admits, cautiously. "In the old days it was more 'this is my patch'; that doesn't happen these days. Maybe in London or inner cities it might." He doesn't sound entirely convinced, though. He thinks the bigger he gets, the more dirty looks he's getting. "But maybe I'm imagining it," he sighs.

We drive a few doors down the street to a large semi-detached house, where the owners are out and the side gate locked. "Here's another common problem," he says, leaping swiftly onto the side wall and vaulting straight over the top, dragging his hose behind him. It's easy to forget the amount of trust we place in the hands of people who work around our homes and, surprisingly, people rarely ask him what he's up to. "I've been jumping over gates for 10 years – all the big millionaire places – and only ever been questioned once," he says, with bemusement. I loiter self-consciously at the front of the house while Lugsden vanishes round the back. "The amount of people who leave doors open is ridiculous," he chimes loudly from round the back. "They've got dogs, so they leave the patio doors open. It's amazing." At 42, he seems truly content in his work, after having explored several other less successful careers, including spells as a tree surgeon and running a mobile video rental business.

Still, it rankles that many people don't view window cleaning as a worthy occupation. "To tell the truth, I often get a bit embarrassed telling people what I do," he says, looking genuinely affronted. "I might earn two or three times what they earn but I still feel 'only a window cleaner'. It's a bit of a sore subject, to be honest." Despite the success he has achieved, there are serious issues on the horizon. Lugsden has long marketed his pure-water method as an environmentally friendly, chemical-free system but a customer recently pointed out to him that half the water he filters for his business is wasted. "I need to find a new way to recycle the water," he says. "I've got three vans, so I'm using 4,500 litres a day. Down here we haven't had a water shortage for 30-odd years, but in future it's going to be a problem. If there was a hosepipe ban, I'd be absolutely stuffed. Every pole user would."

For now, Lugsden's window cleaning for the day is done. But before he heads back to his office, to work through the dozen or so new leads people leave on his answering machine every day, I'm hoping he'll reveal all, and spill the beans about some of those things he really shouldn't have seen on the job. He takes a deep intake of breath. "In 10 years, I've caught a woman in her bra and knickers, and how can I put this? A bloke..." He struggles for the words. " ...pleasuring himself. That was when I was up a ladder, obviously. You can't see stuff with the poles, short of putting a camera on it." Does he get asked that question a lot? "All the time." He grins cheerfully. "I was trying to get the DVD of [the 70s soft porn movie] Confessions of a Window Cleaner recently, just to see what it was like. But it's only out on video." His face drops slightly. Even so, George Formby would have appreciated the effort.

Curriculum vitae:

Pay "A window cleaner off a ladder could earn probably £20k a year. With the poles, if you don't work too hard, you could earn £25k. I'm a workaholic, so I do a lot of hours. I make a good living."

Hours Long weekdays, especially in summer, and often Saturdays to fit in new customers. "I'm doing 10-12 hours a day, including admin, but that's my choice."

Work-life balance "It is hard. I didn't take any time off this summer. My wife took the kids to a holiday park in Bournemouth for a week. But we're going to hire a villa in Spain next year, hopefully."

Highs "I'm my own boss. I'd never work for anyone else again."

Lows "The only stress is when you have to get to someone at 9am and someone else at 11, and you have to work out your route, then you're running late. That's not huge stress, is it? I can live with that."

Friday 30 October 2009

Protein NanoTubes - Grow Your Own Window Cleaner

Self-cleaning skyscraper and car windows and solar panels that repel water and dirt, as well as high-power rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles could be some of the major applications of a Tel Aviv University nanotechnology discovery announced on Sunday evening. Pictured: Self assembling protein nanotubes like these could put window washers out of work.

The development of arrays of self-assembling peptide (protein) nanotubes was the work of Prof. Ehud Gazit of the university's department of molecular microbiology and biotechnology, together with his team of Lihi Adler-Abramovich, Daniel Aronov, Peter Beker, Maya Yevnin, Shiri Stempler, Ludmilla Buzhansky and Gil Rosenman, some of the department of physical electronics. Their innovation appears in the prestigious journal, Nature Nanotechnology.

Gazit was abroad on Sunday, but Adler-Abramovich - who is completing her doctorate in his lab - told The Jerusalem Post that the team has been working on nanotubes for six years and this specific project for two. "We thought of applications when we started, but the results were so impressive during our research that we added more," she said. Nanotechnology is the study of the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale and involves structures sized 100 nanometers - each one-billionth of a meter - or smaller. A very short and inexpensive peptide chain comprised of only two amino acids and easy to synthesize in mass production is the basis of the technology.

"The self-assembly is carried out under high temperatures and in a vacuum. The peptide is as simple as that of aspertame, the artificial sweetener, she said. The nanotubes have the amazing characteristic of assembling themselves to look like "forests" of artificial grass and are hydrophobic, which means that they repel water, as well as dust particles. Thus, sealed, exterior windows of skyscrapers - which are difficult to clean unless someone rapels up them - would not attract dust, and when it rained, any residual dirt would just drop off without leaving a trace. Solar energy panels made of glass, whose efficiency is greatly reduced by dust because the solar radiation has to filter through, could repel dust if made of ordinary glass with the nanotech coating, said Adler-Abramovich.

Solar-energy "farms" in the desert where there is no rain would be able to repel dust to increase efficiency. If they need to be perfectly clean, a small spray of water on the glass could remove the dirt completely without anyone cleaning them, she said. The new technology would apparently put window washers out of work.

She said that another application for the nanotubes would be super capacitators that arrange themselves in great density to produce a rechargeable electric battery storing large amounts of power. These would release electricity quickly, making them ideal for cars that rely on rapid acceleration, even when going uphill. The nanotubes function in high temperatures and are very resistant, said Gazit's doctoral student, and they could also be applied for a variety of medical and biotech uses. Ramot, TAU's research and development arm, is already making contact with commercial companies that could turn the nanotechnology discovery into products.

Meanwhile, TAU's research authority has this year passed the $100 million mark for the first time. Since 2000, the total amount of budget funding from inside the university and outside has doubled. This is despite the slowdown in research investment funds from abroad due to the economic situation. Nevertheless, funds from the European Community for TAU research increased from $1m. in 2000 to $10m. today, which constitutes 18 percent of the total, compared to 11% from the US.

In the protected environment of a quartz tube in a laboratory at Victoria University the creeping spidery arms of nanotubes self-assemble themselves into existence. Professor John Spencer and his PhD student Kirsten Edgar have initiated the growth of these fascinating nanoscopic structures. But what are nanotubes? You may ask and why are they growing in a Victoria University Laboratory? The answer is that these nanoscopic structures discovered only 13 years ago are all the rage on the science scene. In an age with increasingly vast amounts of information and increasingly small devices to process it, the properties of these uncommonly small, very strong, electrically conducting materials are irresistible. If it were possible to control the growth of these tubes so that their size, shape and position could be pre-determined they would open the doors to a whole nano-world of possibilities: nano-electronics, nanotweezers, nanolithography, nanotube reinforced composites, data storage, solar storage, noble radioactive gas storage; the list is endless. John and Kirsten, however are concerned only with the synthesis of nanotubes, understanding how they grow and trying to control the type and size of tube that grows. There are so many different kinds of nanotubes: single wall, double wall, long, short, twisted, straight, skinny, fat and many more and the electronic and structural properties depend on these classifications. It is very difficult to sort the nanotubes once they are made so to get a single type of nanotube, required for a particular application the best idea is to control their growth from the beginning. This is the aim of research at Victoria University. It is, however no small task. Read more...

Thursday 29 October 2009

HSE Prosecutes Window Cleaning Company UK

Firm fined after window cleaner fell from roof: A window-cleaning firm from Lincoln has been ordered to pay out more than £5,000 after one of its employees fell from a roof, breaking eight ribs. A Nicoll & Son Limited, which is based in Allenby Road Industrial Estate in Crofton Drive, Lincoln, was charged with breaking Health and Safety at Work regulations. The city's magistrates' court was told how James Theaker, 50, was cleaning windows at Lincoln College, with two other employees, when the accident happened in November last year. Mr Theaker had climbed onto a flat section of roof at the college to clean windows of a neighbouring building, when he reached over and fell. The court heard that he plummeted 13ft to the ground, where his fall was broken by metal railings.

Directors of the company, Susan and Alistair Nicoll, pleaded guilty to contravening health and safety regulations. Health and Safety Executive inspector Judith McNulty-Green was prosecuting in the case. She told magistrates: "Work at that height should be properly planned and supervised and should be undertaken safely. "The instructions given to the team were detailed about the location of the job, but were not detailed about the method of cleaning. "The employees had not been told that they should have used a harness."

The court heard that the workers had been using the pole-washing system – where water is pumped up extendable poles to clean high windows. But several windows could not be reached using this method. So Mr Theaker climbed onto the roof, without the use of a harness to prevent him falling.

Peter Smith, mitigating, told the court that the company has never broken a health and safety regulation before. A Nicoll & Son Limited was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay £2,948 in court costs – meaning it will now have to pay a total of £5,448. Representatives from Lincoln College are due at Lincoln Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, November 10 to face charges of breaking Health and Safety at Work regulations in relation to the same case.

HSE urges employers to keep those working at height safe: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has today prosecuted a Lincoln firm after one of its workers fell four metres from a roof, breaking eight ribs and sustaining a back injury. James Theaker, 50, from Lincoln was employed by A Nicoll & Son Limited to clean windows at Lincoln College in Monks Road, Lincoln, when the incident happened on 4 November 2008. Mr Theaker had climbed onto a flat roof at the college to clean the windows of a neighbouring building, when he over reached and fell. A Nicoll & Son Limited of Crofton Drive, Allenby Road Industrial Estate, Lincoln today (27 October) pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 for failing to ensure cleaning work was properly planned and supervised. The company was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay £2,948.20p in costs by Lincoln Magistrates' Court.

HSE Inspector Judith McNulty-Green said: "More than 3,200 employees suffer from major injuries as a result of falls from height in the workplace each year. "These injuries can shatter lives. It is crucial to remember that even when a risk assessment has taken place, it is only effective if the information is passed onto staff and supervision ensures that they undertake the work safely."

Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: "Every employer shall ensure that work at height is properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe."Information on working at height is available on the HSE website.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Exclusive Video with Jaret + Unique Window Cleaning Download Tool

The New Star of WCR - hot off the press: Jaret of "Jarets Window Cleaning" from Akron, Ohio maybe the youngest window cleaner going! At 11 years old, this star to be, looks like he could pave the way for other up & coming window cleaners with his great style. So good in fact that the kind guys at Window Cleaning Resource, Chris & Alex have decided to set him up with a camera & a host of tools with his own new show, just to show what an 11 year old can do. With his captivating style, energy & a little quirky humour thrown in, Jaret is a delight to watch. This Video can be watched in high resolution from tomorrow at the Window Cleaning Resources website. Last weeks edition can be seen here.

Kevin the Window Cleaning Business Coach gives us more stuff to ponder:
I sincerely hope that this unique marketing tool helps you step back and look at your window cleaning company and your competitors with fresh eyes, and help you increase your profitability asap. Unique marketing tool - download now.

How important is marketing to your Window Cleaning company?
How much of a difference would it make for your window cleaning company if you could learn how to land $25,000 commercial window cleaning jobs all by yourself?

How valuable would it be to find out how to steal lucrative car dealership window cleaning clients from the competition, and earn $100/hr every time you service them?

How important is it for you to be able to charge as much money as possible from your residential clients, while still leaving them completely satisfied with their transaction experience with your company? Read more.


The world's first "Window Cleaning Marketing Mastermind" - an exclusive mastermind session with 12 other window cleaning business owners that are absolutely committed to maximizing the potential of their marketing efforts to achieve the highest possible profitability, led and directed by me: Kevin Dubrosky.

All of the insider information outlined in the paragraphs above will be made available - on the day of the event - to the attendees of this historic gathering in a beautiful bound publication that you will keep forever as an indispensable, treasured marketing reference guide for your own window cleaning business. This autographed guide will never be re-published or released to the public in the future, but will remain your exclusive property permanently.

In addition, the entire 4-hr mastermind session will be carefully and professionally video documented and audio recorded, so that written manuscripts can be developed as your permanent record of this historic window cleaning marketing event.

Would you like to be part of history, and tap into the insider information that will be shared at the first ever "Window Cleaning Marketing Mastermind"?

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Speed Window Cleaning

Chris Dawber from Newton Aycliffe in Durham aka "Wagga" on the UK window cleaning forums shows us that it's possible to speed window clean not only just using a Wagtail squeegee. Here he is with an assortment of window cleaning applicators & squeegees using different methods. If you missed it, here's a previous look at his videos. Chris has the cleanest windows in Durham..

World's Fastest Window Cleaner - Video here for UK users: Terry "Turbo" Burrows is officially the World's Fastest Window Cleaner! Terry, who can clean three windows in just 9.14 seconds, shows us how it's done, and offers his squeegee tips so This Morning’s guests can have a go! Terry joined his uncle Alfred's commercial window cleaning business in his twenties: "My uncle taught me everything I know, sadly we lost him about 2 years ago to cancer." A few years later Terry set up his own commercial window cleaning business: "I used to love window cleaning. The best part was meeting different people and having a laugh with them."
In 1993 Terry took part in the game show You Bet, hosted by Matthew Kelly. The show built a You Bet street and Terry and his mate John cleaned all the windows of the fake houses in 90 seconds: "We were a great team, John wet the windows and I had the squeegee." Terry appeared on Record Breakers in 1995 and broke his first window cleaning record, taking 9.95 seconds to clean three windows.
Following a controversial challenge to his world record, Terry worked with The National Federation of Window Cleaners and Guinness World Records to change the rules and regulations. He used to take part in competitions all over the world, but now concentrates on breaking records: "I'm not allowed to enter as when the other contestants find out I'm entering they give up!" On the 9th October 2009 Terry set a new record at the National Federation of Window Cleaners show. His time of 8.14 seconds was penalised by a second, due to two water marks on the windows: "I was over the moon with 9.14 but know I can do better."
Terry starts training a few months before competitions, practising half an hour a day: "I take it slow and concentrate on my technique." He is a black belt in karate and says that this helps in competitions: "Martial arts is about moving your mind and body as one and it's the same for window cleaning. He says competitions are very competitive but doesn't listen to anyone who tries to put him off: "It just makes me go faster!"

Terry’s tips:

It's important that your left and right hand move together.
Move your whole body in a sequence.
It's all in the wrist action.
Be loose and fluid and go with the flow.

Video for outside UK here & here.

Window Cleaning News + Gutter Cleaning Fall

Leave it to the Gutter Cleaning Professionals! A Rexburg man was cleaning out his gutters this afternoon, when he fell off his ladder, and hit his head on a window seal. The man's wife called for help after she heard a loud crash outside. He received some gashes and was transported to the hospital. First on the scene, Officer Lyndon Barron asked, "Do you remember anything?" "Yeah. I guess, I don't know," the man responded. "What happened?" Asked Officer Barron. "I don't know," replied the man. "Did you just fall right here off the ladder?" Asked Officer Barron. Law enforcement says you should always call for paramedics, especially when there's a head injury.

St George's Church, Middlesbrough, UK: This was the Gaumont cinema which once stood opposite St George's church, this building has also disappeared from our landscape. You can even see the sweet shop on the corner advertising Fry's Chocolate, which must have been convenient for patrons of the cinema. Also there is a barrow parked on the pavement with a very long ladder, probably belonging to a window cleaner. Click picture to enlarge.

Years ago, Sherman’s Sports in downtown Hendersonville employed a young man to wash the store’s front windows. While he was washing the windows, the man asked Louis Sherman, the store’s owner, if he might be excused from work for a spell. Sherman agreed and the window washer headed for the Henderson County Courthouse. “He and his girlfriend went across the street and got married,” says Francee Sherman. “And when they were done, he came right back to washing windows.” It’s one of Francee Sherman’s favorite stories from the decades she has spent helping run the store that her late husband Kalman’s father founded more than 85 years ago on Main Street.

Deaths at construction sites in Bahrain have doubled in four years, according to the latest Labour Ministry figures. Thirty-five workers have already lost their lives in accidents this year, compared to 36 during the whole of last year, 29 in 2007, 21 in 2006 and 18 in 2005. Of those killed, most fell from buildings under construction, we-re hit by falling construction materials or became trapped in workplace machines, said occupational health and safety head Abbas Salman Matooq. He warned the number of worksite fatalities will rise by the end of the year unless companies stopped flouting safety rules and regulations. "They hire cheap labour and purchase cheap equipment to cut costs," Mr Matooq told the GDN. "Construction accident inspectors work hard to enforce construction safety laws by distributing safety brochures that are printed in several languages for the workers' safety. "But we have noticed that no one follows these rules and that's the reason so many accidents happen." Mr Matooq said a risk assessment test should be carried out at any site before construction work began. "Training for labourers is a must and all the contracting and construction companies are asked to hire safety officers," he said.
Labour regulations state companies that employ 100 workers must hire a safety officer, while those with 50 or less should train a supervisor or foreman to monitor safety issues. "We don't advise anyone to leave the labourer alone at the worksite, without supervision," said Mr Matooq.
"But on inspection, we noticed that many supervisors come in the morning for sometime, explain work to the labourers and leave, which shouldn't be allowed. "The foreman or supervisor must stay at the site until the work is complete. Mr Matooq revealed 1,000 construction sites and labour camps had already been inspected this year. But he said part of the problem was that Bahrain was short of occupational safety engineers with only four carrying out daily inspections.
"We are facing trouble, as there is a shortage of inspection officers," said Mr Matooq. "There are only four inspectors and we have to visit many construction sites in a day and write a report about them. "The job also includes conducting investigations (after an accident or fatality) and giving safety lectures to workers. "At least 40 safety inspectors are required to inspect of all the worksites in Bahrain." Mr Matooq said most of the workers killed this year were from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.
"Two Bahraini workers also died this year, including one, who fell from top of a water tank in Electricity Ministry in Umm Al Hassam," he said. "The other drowned when he was trying to cross a wooden bridge between two ships and fell into the sea. "It took place at the Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Port and the man was the captain of one of the ships." The GDN reported on Saturday that a Labour Ministry probe had been launched into two worksite accidents that killed one worker and left another seriously injured. Indian Pokkillatha Ali Sulaiman, 51, fell to his death from the second floor of a building in Isa Town on Friday. It happened at 10am when he was cleaning a window at the Traffic Directorate. Mr Sulaiman leav-es behind his wife and two children. Hours earlier Bangladeshi Farooq Imam Kabeer suffered serious injuries after a jack fell on him from a building under construction in Shakhoora. It happened at around 8am as the 25-year-old was fixing the jack to make stairs.

Cleanliness May Foster Morality: A simple spritz of a fresh-smelling window cleaner made people more fair and generous in a new study. The researchers figure cleanliness fosters morality. They conducted fairness tests, with subjects completing tasks in a room that was either unscented or one that was sprayed with a common citrus-scented window cleaner. Follow-up questions found the participants didn't notice the scent in the room. "Researchers have known for years that scents play an active role in reviving positive or negative experiences," Galinsky said. "Now, our research can offer more insight into the links between people's charitable actions and their surroundings." The study, led by Katie Liljenquist at Brigham Young University, will be detailed in the journal Psychological Science. Liljenquist and Chen-Bo Zhong at the University of Toronto had previously shown that people who have committed sins feel urged to clean themselves physically. A separate study last year at the University of Plymouth in England found that a vigorous hand wash or shower could cause a person to be less judgmental.

Eric Duran laughs when he's reminded that he does windows in both Spanish and English, so to speak. The proprietor of Duran Window Cleaning is also coordinator of Club de Lenguas, a Spanish conversation club. "I have loved learning about languages since I was about 10 years old growing up in Indianapolis," said Duran, 50, who has lived in Bellingham since 1996. "Now I give private Spanish lessons, and I once taught languages in Mexico. I love helping people learn the beauty of the Spanish language and Latin culture." Duran seeks out speakers with an interest in Latin heritage to attend club meetings, and does his best to accommodate all levels of Spanish speakers, especially enthusiastic beginners.

Burj Dubai: The final height of the tower will be revealed when Burj Dubai opens later this year. The last cladding panel numbered 24,348, weighing 750kg, was placed at a height of more than 662 metres. Panels of more than 18 strength specifications and 200 sizes have been used, all of them double-glazed and factory-sealed. Certain panels are yet to be installed. The total curtain wall area stands at 132,190 square metres. The developer had also said that keeping the tower façade clean will be the next engineering challenge. "To guarantee that every corner of Burj Dubai sparkles, 18 window-washing units are built into the tower, including nine track-mounted telescopic cradles, each with an extendable jib arm for cleaning, which reaches more than 20 metres," said the statement. In September, Emaar sent this newspaper a statement saying the last of the cranes atop Burj Dubai would be taken down in a few weeks. The cranes were originally supposed to come down by end-August. Currently standing at more than 800 metres, Burj Dubai is at the centre of Downtown Burj Dubai, a 500-acre mega project described as the new heart of the city of Dubai. The final height of the tower will be revealed when Burj Dubai opens later this year. The development value of Burj Dubai is more than $1 billion (Dh3.67bn). The design inspiration for the mixed-use development has been drawn from the desert flower. Jan 2007. Level 110 (tallest structure in the Middle East and Europe)
March 2007. Level 141 (world's tallest building): July 2007
Level 150 (world's tallest free-standing structure): Sept 2007
Level 160 (world's tallest man-made structure): April 2008

Echtinaw, 50, and single, was born and raised in Rochester, served in the Navy, attended Oakland University and worked as a newspaper reporter until he moved to Alma in 2001. He has two business here, "Rod Cannon Photography" and a window washing business called, "I Feel Your Pane." From his point of view, the biggest issue facing the city is "how to maintain city services or cut them wisely during a time when revenue is dwindling," he said. "My core beliefs for government are fiscal responsibility to the point of frugality, getting government out of the way of economic activity, and common sense." He said he believes the city is well run and that infrastructure spending - sewers, water mains and roads- is important. He also wants to improve the business climate by getting the government out of the way as much as possible. When asked what areas would he look at if the city had to make cuts, Echtinaw couldn't say. "I'm not comfortable answering that," he said. "Nothing jumps out at me. It would be painful for somebody."

Monday 26 October 2009

Window Cleaning to Gutter Cleaning Part 2

Out of the gutter - Homeowners turn to protective covers to eliminate tedious fall chore. For more than 20 years, Westerville resident Jeff Sherrill collected acorns that fell from a tall oak tree in his front yard. It was a joyless task: The nuts accumulated in the gutters of his two-story home, combining with leaves, seeds and other organic material to block the flow of water to his downspouts. Weary from all-too-frequent gutter cleanings, Sherrill has turned to a professionally installed gutter-cover system to hold the muck at bay. "That oak tree is huge, and the gutters were needing to get cleaned out more and more frequently," Sherrill said. "I'm 68 years old and still fairly fit, but I was getting tired of getting up there all the time." He has joined the growing ranks of property owners who have purchased gutter-protection systems to limit the grind of gutter cleaning. The systems - Gutter Guard, Leaf Solution, Leaf Relief, Gutter Topper and LeafGuard, to name a few - employ a variety of styles to keep out debris.
The industry thinks sales will increase in the coming years as baby-boomer owners eschew many traditional home-maintenance tasks. Other homeowners worry about the physical risks associated with the chore. More than 136,000 backyard warriors annually wind up in emergency rooms because of ladder accidents, said Nationwide Children's Hospital's Center for Injury Research and Policy. "People just don't want to get up on a roof," said Dave Hoskinson, sales manager for the WaterFall Gutter Guard product made in central Ohio by a division of Crane Plastics. "This alleviates that problem."
Deciding to buy a gutter-protection system is easier said than choosing one, however: The marketplace can be confounding to new customers. Hoskinson said he recently counted 40 products available in central Ohio. They can range in price from a few dollars per foot for self-installed covers (available at a hardware store) to upward of $25 per foot for top-of-the-line products (which are professionally installed). All systems have the ultimate goal of keeping gutters free of debris, but manufacturers and distributors tend to promote the excellence of their own brands and insist that others simply don't work.
Some in the business say estimates often are inflated in the hope that homeowners will sign on the dotted line without haggling over the price. Because many gutter covers are installed by small businesses, there's no guarantee that a warranty will be honored if the company goes belly-up. "I've watched at least 20 different products come into the market and leave since 1995," said Curt Cain, owner of Cain's Roof Top Solutions, which sells the Gutter Topper brand (pictured).
Experts say that none of the systems is foolproof. Over time, and without routine maintenance, they can still allow muck to accumulate in gutters or block water flow. Tim Carter, who writes the syndicated column Ask the Builder, said he saw several gutter covers fail on his large Victorian house in the Cincinnati area. They all turned away large leaves, he said, but not always smaller debris such as tree bark, seeds, shingle runoff and pine needles. "Debris can get sucked in during small, light rains," he said. "Then it sits in the gutter. Heat from the sun evaporates the water, and you build up a layer of muck. I let one sit on the house for three or four years, and when I took off the cover, you saw half an inch of muck in the gutter."
Carter said the best product he tested was a micromesh system installed at the same angle as the roof. "It wasn't perfect," he said. "The (company) will tell you that you still occasionally may have to get up and brush off this gutter cover. "But (gutter covers) are absolutely worth it when you consider the dangers. If you are not able to get on your roof to clean your gutters faithfully and confidently, then I would absolutely say you might want to consider this." Because the systems can cost thousands of dollars, experts suggest that consumers take several steps to ensure that the system is priced correctly, will work and can be serviced by a reputable installer.
The Better Business Bureau recommends that consumers check the bureau's Web site and the Ohio attorney general's Web site for reports on specific installers. Consumers also should solicit at least two bids, ask for references and never sign blank contracts. "They should put all estimates in writing and leave you a drawing of the setup of the system," said Keith Bradshaw, owner of LeafGuard of Central Ohio in Hilliard. "We don't hide anything or have any funny disclosures."
Cain said his company resets gutters and promises to clean gutters that become clogged as part of the installation of the Gutter Topper product. He also provides addresses of other Gutter Topper customers, even including competing systems that his installers removed. That was enough to persuade Sherrill to opt for the product. "It will save on maintenance, and I think it's going to strengthen the gutter system," he said. "I have to shore it up after 20 years of use."
Helpful hints: Gutter-cleaning and -installation experts who are members of Angie's List provided these tips for choosing gutter covers and other recommendations.

• Be prepared to do some maintenance: No gutter-protection system will eliminate the need to periodically clear gutters of debris, especially if they're under trees that shed small needles or seeds.
• Avoid cheap vinyl covers: Metal covers are generally better than plastic, which don't hold up well to animals or the sun's ultraviolet rays.
• Test the product: Before you buy, ask to have a section installed so you can see how it works.
• Follow directions: Install the cover properly for best results.

Pressure Washers Direct Adds Hyde Pivot Nozzle Pressure Washer Wand: The Hyde pressure washer wand attaches right onto the end of your current pressure washer gun, giving you complete control over the angle and direction of your spray. The pivot head on the end of the wand is what makes these wands so unique, it allows for 180 degrees of cleaning with a simple twist of the wrist. "Cleaning gutters can literally be a pain in the shoulder," said Jon Hoch, founder and CEO of Power Equipment Direct, the parent company of "These wands allow homeowners to pivot the nozzle down into the gutter while holding the pressure washer gun in a comfortable position, not over their heads." These Hyde pivot nozzle wands come in two sizes, a 28 inch wand for pressure washers up to 3200 psi and a 40 inch wand for pressure washers up to 4000 psi. Pressure Washers Direct also offers a wide selection of telescoping wands, spray lances, long range nozzles and detergent, to help complete all of your fall projects.

And of course don't forget Rainflow!

Sunday 25 October 2009

Window Cleaning to Gutter Cleaning

Those boys from Window Cleaning Resources talk in this weeks edition about gutter cleaning (the perfect winter window cleaning add-on) & DI/RO storage for winter. Also Jaret the 11 year old superstar is mentioned + more. This video contains a parental guidance certificate!

This is Jeff Brown from Reflections Window Cleaning, you may also remember him from his sign making business. This Video was shot using a digital still camera set on video mode, so not the best quality. The video is to help those interested & to see what is involved with gutter cleaning using the Telescopic lance. Jeff adds - Reflections window Cleaners and the Water Fed Pole Training Academy except no responsibility for injury caused by using this type of equipment and they recommend you work with an experienced operative to gain experience before attempting to use any high pressure equipment.

Here's the pitch from Gutter Sense: - Cleaning a gutter with your bare hands can cause painful scratches and cuts. And climbing a ladder to reach second-story gutters is just asking for trouble. Instead keep your hands unscathed and your feet on the ground by using Gutter Sense, the easy-to-use rain gutter cleaning device!
This clever gutter cleaner tool features large polycarbonate "tongs" that will grab 14" of leaves or pine needles from flat-bottom gutters when you pull on the 12'-long braided rope included. Then just dump the debris in a trash bag or compost pile! You'll need to add your own threaded broom handle or extension pole to this gutter cleaning device, or get the Gutter Sense and Pole set (sold separately), with telescoping steel pole that gives you 4' to 16' of extra reach. Also on HSN shopping channel.

Remember the Looj? I remember they peaked in interest for a while but you still needed a ladder to stick them up there in the first instance. And of course they didn't fit UK gutters. Then of course if you could flip your gutter...

A Cumbrian entrepreneur has thrown his future into the gutter with a business venture he thinks will beat even the credit crunch. Former window cleaner Geoff Harney (pictured) has launched Cumbria’s first earth-bound guttering cleaning service. The 32-year-old has discovered a system which allows him to remotely view a gutter, then thoroughly clear it, without leaving the ground. He uses an ‘Omnipole’, which features a camera that relays images to a hand-held monitor so he can see what’s lurking before he starts the cleaning process. The pole then becomes a giant vacuum cleaner, sucking up the detritus and delivering it to a unit on the ground.

Friday 23 October 2009

Window Cleaning News Round Up

A clean start to a new business venture: A forestry industry worker has given up his chainsaw for a squeegee. Faller Darryl Stephens and his wife Tamara have started up a new business, Pro Clean window washing service. Darryl noticed the forest industry slow down and knew he needed to find something else. He said the bottom line driver was to find a job that was practical. The Stephens have grown up in the area, living in Kitwanga for nearly 20 years and here in Terrace for two and a half years, and they wanted to find something that would allow them to stay in the Northwest. “I kind of had an idea about doing (window washing), because I have friends in the business,” Darryl said. He visited his friend in Dawson Creek to learn about the industry, and started up his own business here in July. “Terrace is kind of working in that direction, to keep things clean and keep the buildings looking good,” Darryl said, adding that businesses he has worked for recognize the importance of clean appearances. “This just looked like a need that needed to be filled,” he said. He splits his time operating his business and working as a part-time faller. Stephens is one of a growing number of forest industry employees who have either left the industry or have developed other ways of making a living while still involved in the industry.

Something to be ashamed of! Now another potentially embarrassing, yet related confession by Susan Writer (pictured). In our last house, which had about two dozen windows — most with the original muntin-divided panes — I barely ever washed a one in the more than 11 years we lived there. That, I know would shock the woman I recently heard at my exercise club say she was going to use the rest of her day off washing her windows, because, after all, it had been more than six months since she’d last done them. I nearly howled with mental laughter! There are people who wash their windows more than twice a year! Can you imagine?! She certainly put my recently formed once-a-year ambition to shame. Of course, we have over 30 windows in our 1880s farmhouse as compared to our 1950s split level, but sheesh! It just took me about four different weekend days over a several week period to get through the non-attic and cellar windows. And, I still have the ones over our daughter’s desk, and the kitchen sink to tackle. I saved the hardest to reach until last.

REDBRIDGE: Conman window cleaner jailed - A prolific burglar who posed as a window cleaner before breaking into homes across the borough has been sentenced to four years in jail. Scott Gambier (pictured) confessed to burgling a total of 28 homes in Redbridge after being caught by police when one of his finger prints was found at the scene of a raid. The 30-year-old, of The Drive, Ilford, told officers that he would dress up in a smart suit and knock on the door at targeted properties in order to scope out their potential security 'weaknesses.' A police spokesman said Gambier had been an active burglar in the borough for a number of years before he was finally snared. Detective Inspector Phil Davies of Ilford CID said: "Gambier faces a lengthy period behind bars which represents the many victims that he generated. "This should serve as a warning to other burglars who lead a hazardous and destructive life of crime. "To assist in reducing crime I would urge the public to use and view the Met Police website regarding Operation Bumblebee. "To stop a burglar you have to think like one."Gambier was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday, October 16. Also here.

CLARINGTON-At least four men jumped off the edge of a highrise building in downtown Bowmanville Wednesday. But, they weren't injured. They were Clarington firefighters, doing what's described as high-angle rescue training --- learning what to do if a window-washer, for example, gets stuck high up a tall building or someone falls down the bluffs at Lake Ontario. The training helps firefighters prepare for "low-frequency, high-risk" rescues, said training officer Tim Calhoun. "We don't use this operation very often but we do need to practise," he said. Attached by secure harnesses and a rope system, feet flat against the building, two firefighters at a time slowly rappelled down the multi-storey Veltri complex, carrying what's called a Stokes basket, used to rescue unconscious or injured people. Even training is a complex operation, requiring a trainer, two firefighters to go over the building and two others on standby just in case something happens to the two actively rappelling, someone to act as a victim and someone to act as incident commander. "Everything we do, we have a back-up team on," said firefighter Duane Tyte. "It doesn't matter if you're 12 feet or 200 feet up, it's still going to hurt" if you fall, said Captain Pete Lomax. "You've just got to trust your ropes."

Some people are getting back to basics. Eileen Blackwell and her sons Terry and Shon started out 20 years ago doing yard work, weed abatement, hauling off unwanted items, cleaning windows and more. They saved up enough money doing cleanup work to purchase All Season Resort Rentals in Big Bear Lake. Now that the vacation rental business is slowing down, they’re posting their cleaning services flier in the window and waiting to see what happens. “We’re doing anything we can do to make money,” Eileen says. “If we can do this it will tide us over until vacation rentals pick back up. It’s the first time we’ve had to do this in 20 years.”

Bidmycleaning Announces Partner Program:, the first online marketplace for house cleaning services providing instant bids and online scheduling, today announced a new partner program designed to provide an additional revenue opportunity for high traffic websites. is the simple new way to find and schedule house cleaning services, including Maid Service, Window Cleaning and Carpet Cleaning. makes it easy to find and compare trusted cleaning services in a specific zip codes - in just a few clicks customers can get bids from several providers to compare prices, browse ratings and customer reviews and set up a cleaning appointment with the provider they select. A customer dashboard allows them to easily manage their cleaning schedule, locations, profile and relationship with their providers.’s partner program is targeted at high traffic websites focused on a similar target customer where the partner is able to extend their offering to include access to instant bidding and online scheduling of house cleaning services via a widget or simple ‘Book Now’ button which links to Partners receive a commission for all transactions generated via referrals from their website. In addition, partners also receive recurring commissions from customers who schedule regular maid service, thus providing an ongoing revenue stream. See previous blog here.

Save your neck: You took advantage of the warm weather last weekend to hang your Christmas lights, right? No? Well, there are several businesses in town that take care of that chore for you, and Kevin Kennedy of Kennedy's Window Cleaning is joining the market. He says an advantage of hiring his crew is its years of experience scaling ladders to safely reach your rooftop or tall tree. "We don't fall off ladders," he said. Kennedy started the service last year with a few homes, and it went well so he will start advertising for this holiday season. The lights he hangs aren't the tangle-prone, old-fashioned kind. They're the new, low-energy LED lights, and he cuts them to fit your specific rooftop. Then he returns after the holidays to take them down and store them for you until next year. There's a choice of colors and sizes - even icicle lights - and you can adjust how the lights flash on a box. And you don't have to go out in the cold to decorate your house.

South Jersey: Repairs had not yet begun on the $40,000 worth of damage when Phelan joined relatives in suing the owners of a series of dams whose collapse during a ferocious rainstorm devastated Burlington County in 2004. In his three-story house on Main Street in Lumberton, the computer used for the family's window-washing business was ruined; the basement ceiling fell in.

Thursday 22 October 2009

A Lesson From the Recession

Reversing the slippery slope towards dull mediocrity: By Larry Galler

The new company bubbled with enthusiasm. The founders were ambitious, energetic, and hopeful. They gave every customer friendly service, followed up after the sale, responded promptly when there was a rare problem, and did everything in a high quality, high value manner. Their opening energy helped the business quickly get above the break-even point and started making a modest profit because of the founders constant personal involvement.

But, as the business matured, that burst of energy at the opening dissipated and, unfortunately, couldn't be sustained. While the modest profit continued, the intense concentration and energy the owners had invested in the business began to wane and, little by little, the business started down the slippery slope towards mediocrity. It seemed as if they were just going through the motions, expending the least possible amount of energy to satisfy customers, never able to inspire themselves to thrill their customers or motivate their staff to a higher purpose.

They hung on, growing if the economy was good or their service was needed. They stayed on that plateau for a few years, complaining about the state of their business, their staff, and just about everything except their own attitude and personal lack of enthusiasm.

One day the founders went out to lunch together. They commiserated about the state of affairs, became nostalgic for the early days when, every morning, they almost ran from the parking lot to the front door filled with creative energy. One of them mumbled, "Maybe we have to do something to reinvigorate ourselves and our business or we'll ultimately fail."

They realized that once their initial goal of reaching sustainable sales volume had been reached, they never created new goals, didn't have any other challenges to inspire themselves. So, on a napkin, they wrote out three goals, attainable with effort: a sales goal, an administrative goal, and a maintenance goal and a reward they could win if they reached them. That was the start of renewed concentration, energy, and growth towards reversing the slide into mediocrity and probably into failure. Today their trajectory, for the first time since they reached break-even, is climbing towards prosperity.

Send a comment or question to Larry:


According to the Family Business Institute, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says about 4 million out of 24 million closely held businesses have shut their doors during recession. That's about 17% of all small businesses who are now OUT OF BUSINESS!

Some of this, of course, is due to natural attrition - even in the best of times some businesses fail for various reason. But this is different. Drive through the downtown section and strip centers of most towns and you will see a higher than average number of "for rent" signs in windows of dark stores. Look at warehouse parks and office building and you will see more signs that indicate failed businesses in spaces that were formerly bustling businesses. The recession has had dire effect on many small businesses.

Some of these businesses are in industries that have really been hammered and even the best managed companies in those industries have truly suffered. Some other businesses had bad timing issues, expanding and taking on debt at the peak of the expansion wave and, when things tightened up, were buried under that debt.

But I'd be willing to wager that the bulk of the failed businesses were ones that were marginal or badly managed before the recession - little to no planning, few financial controls, internal strife, indifferent customer service, and a reactive instead of a proactive method of doing business.

While the business news seems to be brightening hopefully, we still have a long way to go before we get back to "business as usual." But, as the economy recovers, the surviving businesses, instead of giving themselves congratulatory "high-fives" should be looking proactively to the future and discovering ways to become better at all the tasks that separate the mediocre businesses from the good ones and the good ones from the great businesses and put into action steps to make themselves better, more competitive, and more sustainable so your business does not become a statistic when the economy tanks again.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Three Window Cleaning Stories for Wednesday

The Dubai businessman Peter Manzi has a deviously simple plan to clean up: On a recent Monday afternoon, I watched as a shopper stood in the Géant hypermarket in Dubai, contemplating an expanse of window-cleaning products. First, the man picked up a spray bottle containing a blue liquid and examined the ingredients, then he did the same with purple and pink. The bottles of Clearwater, a colourless glass cleaner located on one of the lower shelves, went unexplored. Purple it was.
Clearwater, which is currently being produced in Dubai by an Englishman named Peter Manzi, could very well be the eco-friendliest household cleaner on the planet. In fact, I’ve just taken a swig of the stuff, and I’m fine. This is probably because Clearwater is just, well, clear water. As the bottle informs, it’s “100% Chemical Free”.
Manzi insists that there is more to his product than meets the eye. It’s gone through a filtering process, one involving complicated-sounding things like reverse osmosis. “Normal drinking water has particles in it – calcium, sodium, magnesium,” Manzi explains. “But this is pure water.” The idea is that, stripped of its minerals, water attempts to replenish itself with whatever particles it can find. As Manzi puts it: “It tries to revert back to its natural state. It actually draws in the dirt.”
Even if this is true, it doesn’t fit on a catchy label, so consumers are confronted with something that looks, smells and tastes like the stuff that comes out of their taps. “Yes, this question has arisen,” Manzi says. “I’ve had some comments.”
Manzi, 49, launched Clearwater glass cleaner six months ago, on the back of a window-washing enterprise he founded in 2007. The Clearwater cleaning company has done well, with corporate contracts that include ENOC and Etihad, along with enough individual clients to keep its 25 employees busy. While his firm isn’t the only one using hyper-purified water to clean windows, Manzi says that he’s the first to put it into a spray bottle – a leap, he says, that will one day make him a global force in the household cleaner category. “This could be in Wal-Mart or Tesco,” he says. “Why not?” Earlier this year, as part of an expansion drive, Manzi set up a plant in Barsha; according to him, it can produce 75,000 litres of purified water a day, though it might be a while until the plant is working at full capacity. Meanwhile, Manzi’s efforts to get local supermarkets to carry Clearwater haven’t been entirely successful – all but Geant and Le Marché have turned him down – and he is currently shifting only about 500 bottles a month. “I’m hoping the numbers will go up,” he says. “We’re looking into advertising, doing a proper marketing campaign.”
Despite Clearwater’s limited success so far, Manzi says he is confident that his product will soon be able to compete with more established brands. In fact, he adds, his biggest worry is that larger companies will see what he is doing and develop a clear water of their own. “There are only so many ways to filtrate water,” he says. ”You can’t protect yourself against imitators. The only thing I can do is get this product out there, because if the big players thought they could make money, they’d get it out there pretty quick.” The environmental appeal alone, he adds, makes Clearwater a very attractive prospect for the future.
“There’s a feel about the world now,” Manzi says. “If we want to protect ourselves, we need to start using these kinds of products.” Consumers, however, have 100 years of conventional wisdom telling them chemicals are uniquely effective at doing things like cleaning windows, that a bottle of household cleaner should be a strange colour, have a distinctive aroma and be harmful if swallowed. “The proof is in trying the product,” Manzi insists. “Buy a bottle and try it at home.”
I take Manzi’s advice and test Clearwater on a balcony door that hasn’t been cleaned, to my knowledge, since I moved into my flat over a year ago. As the bottle contains no instructions, I spray it on, leave it for a moment, then wipe it off with kitchen towels. My control group is an adjacent window, which I wash in the same way with ordinary tap water. The tap water window ends up streaky; the Clearwater window doesn’t. I wash a third window with a major-brand, blue-tinted glass cleaner, which also leaves the window streak-free. But I don’t dare to drink it.

A toast to the city's small businesses - A route back to employment: Starting a business offered a route back to employment for single dad Norman Straight, who set up window cleaning company Straight Clean after five years out of work. Mr Straight, 31, from the Marlpit estate in Norwich, was left with responsibility for his sons Jay, 13, Dominic, 11 and eight-year-old Ethan after the break up of a relationship in 2002, and spent years out of work, selling the Big Issue to help make ends meet. But in October 2007 he had an idea to go out armed with a mop and bucket to earn some cash, and with help from business support organisations he set up his company last year.
Mr Straight, who was recently named entrepreneur of the year in a national New Entrepreneur Scholarship competition, went on to win two big contracts, with the Henderson Business Centre in Earlham and an old people's home in Cringleford. He said winning new business was difficult in the recession but being self-employed helped him fit work around his family commitments. He said: “Being self-employed gives you much more freedom as a single parent. As a small business I can offer a personal touch. I know my customers and I treat them as individuals, where a big company would treat everyone the same. “I know most of my customers by name.
“You should think carefully before setting up a business in the recession. People just haven't got much money at the moment. When I go and try and get new business people are cleaning their own windows, even shops are doing it themselves, but I am keeping my head above the water.” Knowing my industry gave me the confidence to go it alone. With a string of shops standing empty across the city, starting up a business in a recession can be scary.

Ex-firefighter red-faced over shed blaze: Red-faced former firefighter Ross Sheppard had to call the fire brigade out when his shed caught fire. Mr Sheppard, 30, was burning cardboard and wood in an incinerator bin in his back garden when the flames spread to a wooden shed. The shed caught fire when Mr Sheppard went indoors to attend to his six-week-old son, Louie, and his partner, Claire Fonteyne, 30. The couple, who live in Awdry Road, Devizes, were alerted to the fire by the barking of their Jack Russell dog, Vinni, and Mr Sheppard quickly filled a bucket with water and threw it over the flames. He refilled the bucket about six times and, as well as attempting to douse the flames, he threw water on to his second wooden shed next to the one on fire to stop it spreading. He was unable to put out the fire but did stop it engulfing the other shed, although two perspex window panels in it melted.
Mr Sheppard, a window cleaner, said: “The flames were about ten feet high and the roof of the shed was well ablaze. The roof was gone so then it was a case of controlling it until the fire engine came. “I probably could have put it out eventually but it was easier to call the fire brigade out. It could have caught neighbours’ sheds so potentially it could have been a lot worse. “I went indoors to feed Louie and I got distracted. If I had stayed with the incinerator bin the shed wouldn’t have caught fire.” The shed that was on fire was destroyed, along with a trampoline and two children’s bikes which were inside.
Mr Sheppard was a retained fire fighter in Devizes for four years from 2000. He was featured in a local news television programme which filmed him as a new recruit to the fire service and followed his progress through training. He left the fire service when he moved from the town centre and could not give the same commitment. Pip Flowers, commander of Devizes Fire Station, said: “While we were on the fire truck driving to the fire we said to each other that we thought it was near Ross’s house. “Ross was a bit embarrassed about it and he had a fair bit of mickey taking from us. Joking aside Ross did everything right when he realised the shed was on fire. His actions in putting water on the second shed definitely saved it from going up in flames. He did well with what he had available to contain the fire.”

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