Monday 31 August 2015

Chicago Failed Scaffolding Platform

All three made it inside the building through a window before fire crews arrived and were evaluated for injuries, according to the Chicago Fire Department. No one was hurt.
No one hurt after scaffold malfunction at Civic Opera building: No one was injured when a scaffold malfunctioned outside the Civic Opera House on Friday afternoon in the Loop.

Rescue crews were called to the building at 20 N. Wacker after a scaffold malfunctioned on the 16th floor, Fire Media Affairs said at 2:43 p.m. Three workers were able to get inside through windows before fire crews arrived.

Workers were medically evaluated on the scene and were uninjured, the fire department said. The platform has since been lowered to the ground for evaluation and repair.

Friday 28 August 2015

Window Cleaner Breaks World Record - 53rd marathon in 53 days

Incredibly, he is only just over half way through his mammoth challenge of running 90 marathons in 90 days.
Superfit window cleaner breaks record by completing 53rd marathon in 53 days: Inspirational Mark Vaz, 31, crossed the finish line at the Black Country Museum in Dudley, West Midlands, after a massive 28 mile run. Incredibly, he is only just over half way through his mammoth challenge of running 90 marathons in 90 days. Today marks 60 years since the first edition of Guinness World Records was published.

Click to enlarge. 90 marathons in 90 consecutive days, a total of 2,340 miles.
Mark, who is completing his daily runs around his window cleaning round, has pounded pavements and paths across the UK for more than 1,500 miles in just over 265 hours so far. He hopes to raise £90,000 for a baby charity after his wife Tammy, 31, suffered seven miscarriages in eight years.

Speaking after he completed his record-breaking 53rd marathon yesterday, Mark said the runs have left his body racked with pain. He has also lost a stone and a half since starting his epic fundraiser on July 7 because he cannot physically eat enough food to replace the 3,000 calories he is burning every day. Mark, from Penkridge, Staffs., said: “I’m really happy to have achieved this.”

A total of 2,340 miles. Or put it another way, more or less what the average motorist will drive in their car over that period. And that's not all. There will be no respite during the hours in between his marathon runs. The 31-year-old, will be carrying on with his window cleaning rounds throughout the gruelling three-month period. Although he will be allowing himself the luxury of travelling to jobs in his van.
Marathon running window cleaner breaks world record: A window cleaner from Staffordshire has broken a Guinness World Record after running 53 marathons in 53 days. Mark Vaz, from Penkridge, was cheered on by crowds as he crossed the line at the Black Country Living Museum, taking him over the current record of 52. He hopes to complete 90 marathons in 90 days to raise awareness about miscarriage after his wife Tammy suffered her seventh earlier this year. Tammy, who greeted him with a kiss after his 53rd marathon, said she was "really proud".

Thursday 27 August 2015

Living Smart: Should I Get Professional Window Cleaning?

Mike Giustino, owner of Affordable Window Cleaning in Round Lake, Ill. Giustino says he can finish a project that would take a homeowner five hours in less than half the time.
Living Smart: Should I get a professional window cleaning? (By Shannon Antinori) - Clean windows can make your home brighter and improve its overall appearance. A professional window cleaning can also provide an early warning of potentially dangerous problems, according to owner Bill Volkart of Dazzle Services in Cincinnati, Ohio. Here are some reasons you should consider hiring a professional window cleaning service to keep your windows sparkling and functional.

1. Saving time Cleaning your windows can be a time-consuming project, according to Mike Giustino, owner of Affordable Window Cleaning in Round Lake, Ill. Giustino says he can finish a project that would take a homeowner five hours in less than half the time.

2. Spotting general problems A professional window washer can identify problems such as sashes that are painted shut, ill-fitting window screens, wood rot on windowsills or damaged or non-functional windows. Spotting the problems early can often save you a big expense later, Volkart says - and it could even save your life. "Little things like painted sashes and clogged channels might spell the difference between getting out in case of fire or being forced to take another way out of danger in a very stressful situation," Volkart says.

3. Removing insect infestations Bees and hornets sometimes build nests behind window shutters, and wasps can build paper nests between three-piece storm windows, according to Volkart. Ladybugs also can build nests in channels, making the windows hard to operate.

4. Extending the life of a window "Old aluminum screens left in place for years gradually etch a pattern of deposits on the glass, much like lime deposits in the shower," Volkart says. The etched glass is not only unattractive, but it is also more prone to cracks and chips. A professional window washer can restore the glass and extend your window's life with a treatment of muriatic acid or, in less severe cases, Bar Keepers Friend and grade 0000 steel wool, he says.

5. Providing the right window cleaning supplies and tools Professional window cleaners can ensure that the right products are used to clean glass without damaging it. If you have leaded glass or stained glass, you may be unintentionally damaging it by using an ammonia-based window cleaner, Volkart says. With repeated use, an ammonia-based cleaner can cloud leaded and stained-glass windows, and the damage can't be repaired, he cautions. Professional window washers also have the right equipment, such as ladders and telescoping window-washing tools, to safely clean hard-to-reach windows, according to Giustino.

6. Finding the cause of spots on your windows Puzzled about what's causing the spots on your glass? Your mulch may be to blame, Volkart says. "Cheap mulches often are infested with a fungus aptly named shotgun fungus," he explains. "When mature, the fungus shoots out black spores that glue themselves to glass and vinyl siding and are very hard to remove completely." A professional window-cleaning service can pinpoint the cause of the problem, and replacing your mulch with a higher-quality product can help your windows and siding stay cleaner and last longer, according to Volkart.

Before you hire a window cleaner How much window cleaning costs varies, but Volkart says you usually get what you pay for. Anyone with a bucket, squeegee and window mop can call himself or herself a window cleaner. "Ask questions before you hire just anyone," he advises. "A true professional will make sure your windows are not only clean, but functional and will advise you on ways to protect the biggest investment most people ever make - their home."

Giustino, who recommends getting your windows cleaned at least once per year, says it's important to ask for references and read reviews before hiring a window washer. "Ask them how long they've been in the business," he says. Giustino also recommends asking companies whether they clean windows with a hose or a power washer, and what types of products they use to wash windows.

Wednesday 26 August 2015

High Rise Window Washers of Manhattan Video

The men who provided their perspectives on it for this film, lifelong New Yorkers John McDermott and John Wren, turned out to be both completely sane and highly safety-conscious.
High-Rise-Window Washers of Manhattan: High rise window washing, once among the most dangerous jobs in the world, has become extremely safe, statistically speaking. Still, the gig remains capable of producing Youtube clips to make you weak at the knees, most memorably a harrowing mishap at the top of a hundred-and-one-story building in Shanghai, and an equally unpleasant situation in Denver. Never mind that, miraculously, nobody died in either case; the profession’s few remaining dangers are so spectacular—and the fears they cause so primal—that, to the casual observer, it is still the province of daredevils and lunatics.

For me, the opportunity to explore such a world was irresistible, even if the men who provided their perspectives on it for this film, lifelong New Yorkers John McDermott and John Wren, turned out to be both completely sane and highly safety-conscious. (Though, by their own accounts, they may not have entered the profession that way, thirty years ago.) The result—based on a 2013 piece in these pages and the product of the hard work of various producers and cameramen—also led me to an uneasy realization: When these men began window washing three decades ago, it was an accepted premise of American life that, through unions and union membership, an aspiring musician (McDermott) and a young baseball player with a career-ending injury (Wren) could take blue-collar jobs and eventually be afforded, through hard work, a middle-class quality of life. Today, with unions under renewed attack, the biggest threat to window washers comes no longer from gods but from mere mortals.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

New Energy Technologies - Electricity With Every Window

New energy technologies want to make electricity with every window
New Energy Technologies want to make electricity with every window: American company, new energy technologies is developing electricity generating transparent windows and products for america’s 85 million detached homes and commercial buildings. Their mission has been to create solar windows which produce impressive amounts of clean electricity, that benefit the environment and the building landscape. The team developed a coating capable of generating electricity on glass and flexible plastics that is processed uniformly in different color tints. these polymer organic photovoltaic arrays are clear and only capture UV rays which can be scaled up and have unparalleled manufacturablilty. 

Researchers view through electricity generating ‘solarwindow’
Unlike traditional building applied photovoltaic systems, restricted to use in direct sunlight on very limited skyscraper rooftop space, their ‘solarwindow’ is designed to operate in sunlight, shaded conditions and artificial light on the many thousands of square feet of glass surfaces common to today’s high rise towers. the technology is the subject of forty two patent filings, and researchers are on the track to advance the project towards full scale production. 

They are being developed in architecturally-neutral colors
They can tint in custom colors
The clear film only captures UV light
Testing the film using artificial light
Can be applied on traditional skyscraper windows
The president is pushing a clean energy loan guarantee program, which helped electric car success story Tesla, but also failed solar company, Solyndra. President Obama just announced a series of initiatives to encourage solar and other green technologies, as he tries to spur development of cleaner power sources.

The push will involve more than $1 billion in government funds to back new clean energy and energy efficiency projects along with funding research and development of new energy technologies. While the individual actions are small, Obama’s overarching plan and public pitch shows his growing attention to both clean energy, as well as initiatives to fight climate change. In his final term in office, Obama is now focused on a legacy committed to climate change, and recently finalized a highly controversial plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power industry.

Obama formally unveiled the plan Monday afternoon in Las Vegas at a clean energy-focused conference sponsored by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). The White House released details about the address earlier in the day.

The Energy Department will oversee many of the new initiatives including another $1 billion for its loan program that has previously been both lauded and vilified. The agency previously gave loans to electric car company Tesla and the large solar farm Ivanpah, but also to failed solar panel maker Solyndra, which created a political firestorm with Republicans who criticized the administration for wasting taxpayer money on a flimsy business.

The loan program has made $30 billion in total commitments over the years to get new nuclear, solar and wind projects built, or new green technologies from big companies like Nissan or smaller companies like Tesla. Many of the very large solar panel projects built in the deserts of California and Nevada made use of these loans.

At the same time, the Energy Department clarified that the loan program can now be used to fund “distributed energy” projects, which are decentralized technologies like roof top solar panels, batteries in buildings or connected to the power grid, or adding computing intelligence to the grid. Much of the clean energy projects that have historically used the loans have been large “centralized” energy projects, which involve a utility buying and distributing the energy to its customers.

Monday 24 August 2015

Save The Americans

"Save the Americans" campaign: The advertising concept brings Costa Rica to Los Angeles by using window washers  suspended platforms showcasing the sloth mascot along with the message: “Cubicle. Cage. What’s the difference?”
Send In The Sloths - Costa Rica Touts Its Wildlife To Lure Tourists: Last year, Costa Rica Tourism Board and its agency 22squared launched the "Save the Americans" campaign to convey that Americans in Canada and the U.S. are overworked and under-vacationed and Costa Rica is the solution for their vacation deprivation. 

Now, this campaign is taking to the streets. The concept brings Costa Rica to Los Angeles by using window washers and their suspended window washing platforms to deliver messages with the campaign’s spokesperson, the sloth.  

"Since there’s a heavy portion of our target audience in LA, and there are direct flights to Costa Rica, LA seemed like a perfect fit," says Curt Mueller, SVP, Group Creative Director, at 22squared. “Our mission is simple: Use Costa Rican animals, like the sloth, to convince overworked Americans to come to Costa Rica for a much-needed vacation. So, with ‘Save the Americans’, we’ve challenged ourselves to find innovative ways and new places to reach these Americans. We’ve reached them through music videos, a Twitter campaign called ‘Endangered Tweets’, sand sculptures near Wall Street in New York City, and now, in office buildings in downtown LA. 

Take a photo to win a holiday.
Having the animals reach out to overworked Americans where they work, and when they’re feeling overworked, has been a major reason for the success of the ‘Save the Americans’ campaign.” The campaign appears on 3333 Wilshire Blvd, a 13-story office building in Los Angeles on busy Wilshire Blvd, as well as on the ground surrounding the building. Messages include “Attention Tenants: We will be washing the windows today. Watch for sloths” and “Staring out the window during work isn’t productive. That will change tomorrow.”

In addition, window washer's suspended platforms showcase the sloth mascot along with the message: “Cubicle. Cage. What’s the difference?” 

Those walking by these images are invited to take a photo and share it using the  #SlothSweepstakes hashtag for a chance to win a trip to Costa Rica. Finally, on August 25, the campaign will release video showcasing office workers' reactions to a sloth showing up on their windows, as well as their moments when they enter to win a trip to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica spent $3.3 million on its Save The Americans campaign last year.
“From what we’ve seen in the building and on social media, people are loving the ‘Window Washing’ campaign so far," says Mueller. "We teased the idea in the building’s lobby and elevators the day before, and there was a lot of curiosity. In general, it’s hard not to love a six foot sloth who appears outside your office window, offering trips to Costa Rica.”

While it remains too early to tell if this campaign will actually translate into increased visitors, the previous Save the Americans initiatives have been effective. Costa Rica spent $3.3 million on its Save The Americans campaign last year and Tourism Ministry officials say that revenues from Costa Rica’s travel sector last year totaled $2.6 billion in 2014, an 8.3% increase over the $2.4 billion registered in 2013. There were more than 2.53 million international arrivals last year, an increase of 4.1% over the previous year. 22squared has been working with The Costa Rica Tourism board for five years.

Friday 21 August 2015

New Service Business Model Dubai - Jim Will Fix It

Another new addition to the company’s offerings is window cleaning, which is due to be available by the end of 2015. “Not a mop and bucket,” says Thomas, but a high tech system that’s being brought in from the UK and uses pure water as the main cleaning method to eliminate smears and droplet marks caused by ‘total dissolved solids’ (TDS).
Fixing up the maintenance industry: If you have lived in, or even just visited Dubai in the past seven or eight years, you will have almost certainly seen the purple and yellow Jim Will Fix It vans going from job to job. Their noticeable presence not only speaks volumes about their eye-catching branding, but also the company’s success in redefining the emirate’s approach to home repairs and maintenance.

Offering a range of services including DIY, plumbing, electrics, air conditioning, carpentry, and painting and decorating, the business was founded in 2007 by two men who wanted to change a maintenance landscape which they believed was restrictive and often poor quality. Colin Thomas and Daniel Garner both arrived in Dubai from the UK in the early years of the new millennium – Thomas with Sony PlayStation, and Garner with Morgan McKinley. But despite the heady days of pre-global financial crisis Dubai, there was something that the duo felt compelled to address. So much so that they started their own business to deal with it.

“I was living in a big place in Al Barsha, and the whole nugget of the idea came when the AC broke down,” explains Thomas. “On three different occasions I phoned three different companies. They either needed an annual contract and wanted all the money upfront, or alternatively it was a guy who spoke no English and came with one screwdriver. “We thought surely there’s a better way of doing maintenance than this. So we kind of started from there.”

Joining forces with Garner, the duo “sort of did it backwards” by quitting their jobs before embarking on a six-month research period, culminating in a business plan. “We did our market research - we were stood outside Spinneys and Choithrams every evening for about a week, and that research came back to say quite clearly that there was room for something that was radically different,” continues Thomas. “And that ‘different’ is exactly where we sat. Back home you would never have somebody coming to you saying ‘pay me £3,000 for the year and I’ll look after your house for you’. People would laugh them out the door. So we couldn’t understand why up until then Dubai had been operating in that way.”

The important thing in the early days was for people to try out the fledgling company. “The real key to the business was: can we get the quality service without needing an annual maintenance contract, so people have the option of trying us to work out whether we›re as good as we say we are?” says Thomas. “If we offer them a warranty not only on parts but also the service that we do, then they can have the peace of mind that they haven’t spent a small fortune before finding out whether we’re any good or not, and they have a warranty so if anything does go wrong they have that peace of mind there as well.”

The timing, however, was not ideal. The company launched in 2007, shortly before the financial crisis engulfed most of the globe. But while many new businesses were struggling to stay afloat, Thomas says Jim Will Fix It proved to be somewhat recession-proof. He explains: “It was quite clear within a month or so that the recession was very much upon us here in Dubai and at that stage there was a big question mark of whether or not the business would work. “But what became clear was that things break even in a recession, and you either lived with it or you get it repaired. It kind of grew exponentially from day one. And that’s continued for the last seven years which has been fantastic.”

Part of the company’s early success, according to Thomas, has been its balance between offering a full range of services, and building a reputation for honesty with clients. “We couldn’t just look after one particular facet, like a plumbing service,” he says. “We really needed to offer people enough of a breadth that we were almost a one-stop-shop for their maintenance needs. “That said if there was something too specialist, unlike some companies that claim to be experts in everything, we had to be prepared to walk away from it if it wasn’t within our core expertise. That’s really helped us build a rapport with our customers. They know if it’s a job we’ve taken on then we’re good at it.”

This kind of rapport has helped Jim Will Fix It compete against other companies in the facilities management sphere, but for Thomas there is a much more important differentiator. “What you tend to find with those guys is that they’re very much competing on price, while we’re very much competing on quality,” he explains.

“For us it was important that we had the right staff - really capable people who come to us with qualifications. For example all our AC guys are three years qualified in the Philippines and then we retrain them again, so they go through a really rigorous training process with our senior technicians to ensure they’re the required quality.  “Then we have ongoing training. So every three months they go through a refresher course on customer training, and then we have a refresher team on the road that just trains, trains, trains and shadows each of our teams.

“It’s permanent because we have to maintain that quality, even as we’re growing at a very quick rate.” The company’s tag line – ‘one call, one visit, job done’ – is “more than just a mantra”, according to Thomas. He explains that the quality of service needs to be strong throughout the entire process, starting with the initial call to the bookings team. “The first call is critical because that call is for us to be able to determine that we’ve got the right person there, make sure we have the materials we need to do that job, and make sure the customer understands exactly what that job is. “And that’s followed up by the fact that our staff are all English speaking - they are able to communicate, and are constantly retrained in communication with the customer. “They are there to eke out the maximum amount of information so that we can go there in one visit, can get the job done, ensure it’s going to be right, and that we’ve got all the right materials to proceed.”

The company also has back-up plans in place, just in case the job turns out to be more difficult than first expected, or if parts aren’t available. “We now have a fleet of very big vans that float around Dubai and work as mobile warehouses as well,” says Thomas. “So if we do have a job where those parts aren’t available, there’s a good chance they’ll be in the mobile vans, so we can get the parts to people quickly and still get everything done in that one job. “However, there are always going to be those jobs where you’ve got specific items, so when a technician is still on the roof, for example, from the roof he can call the parts team in office, and they will call in immediately the part details. The parts team will then call our driver who is already in the area of the supplier. So in effect from diagnosis to part being available, it can be as quick as half an hour. It’s something we’ve really worked on perfecting as we’ve got bigger.

“We’ve now done 55,000 jobs and we’re kind of at the stage where we’ve seen everything before, without a doubt, and we’ll know how to deal with it.” The focus on quality is something that Thomas and Garner were adamant about from the very beginning. While starting out, they took advice from friends who had also launched businesses in Dubai, and decided that there were certain things they would leave in the hands of other professionals. “We sat down with those guys to learn from their mistakes, and what that told us was that we didn’t need to worry about the bureaucracy of setting up. We could focus on our business and find a facilitation company to look at the set up requirements. We’ve got a great one that we still use to this day.

“There’s a real decision to make when setting up a business, which is what will you spend money on, and what will you focus on yourself. We knew that our product delivery had to be better than the lowest common denominator operators, and the established operators as well, and we couldn’t just match it, we had to be significantly, demonstratively better. We wanted to focus on that.” That focus paid dividends almost immediately.

Despite the challenges the founders faced in the form of competition and a generally poor perception of the maintenance industry, the quality that they were so intent on establishing shone through. “Within probably six months of us starting, Dubai’s word of mouth kicked in massively for us and it made our significant advertising efforts pale in significance,” says Thomas. “Expat Woman was probably the best source we had for word of mouth and we were getting 60-70 percent of our work on referral alone. For us that was absolutely critical.

“As well as that, there were just huge amounts of hard work and graft. When you’re signing the cheques yourselves, and it’s money you’ve earned yourselves [the start-up money came from the founders and their families] it makes you beyond hungry to make sure it works. “So for us it was ridiculous hours, ridiculous days. I lost a huge amount of weight, and for the first six months I spent a lot of time on the road going to the jobs, being on the roofs in 50C heat to ensure our service delivery was right, and I’m able to talk about jobs knowledgeably, which was absolutely key.”

Having established a strong following, and ensured a consistent quality of service through continual training, a system of spot checks, and customer feedback, the company began to expand its offering.
In order to provide the best possible service, Thomas explains that he and Garner keep a close eye on new products and procedures available in other parts of the world which could enhance their offering in Dubai. One example is the addition of duct cleaning to their AC service. Thomas explains that they have brought in a specific piece of equipment from the US which cleans AC units and ducts much more quickly and efficiently than they were previously able to do. Another new addition to the company’s offerings is window cleaning, which is due to be available by the end of 2015. “Not a mop and bucket,” says Thomas, but a high tech system that’s being brought in from the UK and uses pure water as the main cleaning method to eliminate smears and droplet marks caused by ‘total dissolved solids’ (TDS).

With any new product, there needs to be a tangible benefit to the customer and the company, explains Thomas. “If we can keep our quality level, but use the technology to make it faster while maintaining that quality, and get to the point where we reach a really nice competitive price, then it means it’s feasible for the Dubai market, and feasible for us. “There’s a bit of chicken and egg situation with new products, in as much as we know it’s being used in a certain way, but can we tweak it to get the quality we need, and can we get the economies of scale that we need to get to a price that will make it mainstream in Dubai?” The answer for an increasing number of products appears to be yes. But while the breadth of what they are able to do is increasing, the geography in which they do it is not. Yet.
“At the moment we’re in Dubai, and the reason we’ve stuck to Dubai so far is that for our services and the reputation we have here, we have a really strong amount of growth year on year, every year,” continues Thomas.

“But we are looking at Abu Dhabi, without a doubt - it’s just a case of how soon we will roll it out.
“We also get approached on an almost weekly basis for franchises abroad. To date we’ve decided not to do that. It’s so critical that anything we do, we do to our quality level, and to package all of that up into a little manual is not really possible in the way it might be for a fast food outlet. ‘If our key is quality, then it doesn’t really franchise that well, in our view, and we have to stick to maintaining that quality.”

Speaking with Thomas, it is clear that his business is about much more than making money. The company’s dedication to quality service is matched by the partners’ assertion that it should be a place their employees feel comfortable working. People are at the heart of what they do, and the quality they are keen to provide at every turn is a constant reminder of this. Having helped fix the reputation of the maintenance sector in Dubai, no doubt Jim Will Fix It will continue to be at the forefront of its development in the future.

Thursday 20 August 2015

It's Just Too Dirty - Political Window Cleaning

Angry protesters say they are trying to highlight the need for transparency over the trade deal.
'It's just too dirty' - TPP protesters wash minister's windows: Anti-TPP protesters have taken their plea to see the details of the trans Pacific trade deal to a whole new level, washing the windows of the Trade Minister's office to highlight the need for transparency. About a dozen protesters kitted out in yellow and orange jackets and wielding window mops gathered outside Tim Groser's New Lynn office in Auckland and took to the front window with buckets of soapy water.

"It's just too dirty," a male protester is heard to say in a video captured by ONE News. But was he talking about the window, the trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement - or both? "We want more transparency with the TPPA. So we're trying to highlight the need for transparency," a female protester explained, as she reached to clean the top of the window.

All the while, Tim Groser's picture on the window smiled out at the unhappy protesters. "Hon Tim Groser National MP", the accompanying sign for the National List MP explains. A woman waved a banner at passing motorists which showed "TPPA" written in a magnifying glass and demanded "Show us ya text".

Trade ministers failed at the start of the month to reach agreement on the proposed free trade agreement between 12 Pacific rim nations including the US and New Zealand which has been under secret negotiation for several years. Opponents of the deal say if New Zealand signs we risk damage to our economy, environment, health and ability to shape our own future, and the details of the agreement should be made public now.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Bus Shelter Window Cleaners Save The Day

Most window cleaners vans that use waterfed poles are equivalent to a mini fire engine! The brave workers have been hailed heroes for their exploits.
Hero cleaners save family from house fire: Two quick-thinking workmen screeched their van to a halt and raced to the rescue as a fire gripped hold of a family home in the early hours of the morning. Bus shelter cleaners Raymond Peacock and Paul Seggie banged on doors in Trinity Crescent in a frantic bid to wake sleeping occupants.

As shell-shocked residents fled, the raging flames broke a window and threatened to engulf neighbouring homes. The heroic duo then sprinted back to their van and used its water jet to douse the inferno before the fire brigade arrived.

Mr Peacock and Mr Seggie have now been hailed as heroes who went beyond the call of duty to save lives and prevent a family home from being completely destroyed. Modest Mr Peacock said the pair had just been in the “right place at the right time” when they came across the blaze.

The house fire on Trinity Crescent.
The 41-year-old said: “I think anyone would do that, really. It was just a quick reaction. We both just got on with it until the fire brigade were there. It was just a case of banging on the doors and waking everybody up.”

He said it was pure chance that their van had recently been fitted with a new water system, and the tank was full at the time. “I’m just glad everybody is safe,” he added. “I’m happy that we could help.”

The occupants of the house where the fire started, who had been away for the night, said the actions of Mr Peacock and Mr Seggie had potentially saved their neighbours’ lives as the fire threatened to spread.

According to the owner, who asked not to be named, the blaze broke out when the rising sun reflected on a magnifying beauty mirror, sparking a fire on a sofa. “If we had been in the house we would have had the shutters shut and it wouldn’t have happened,” said the mum-of-two. “It’s only stuff, but it’s quite a lot to sort out. We’re just relieved everyone is okay. It was absolutely brilliant that [the cleaners] were there.

“They even tried to put it out with the hose that they were using. They knocked on all the doors. “We want to pass on a massive thank you.”

Mr Peacock and Mr Seggie are employed under the council’s contract with JCDecaux to maintain the city’s new bus shelters. Mark Cooper, the firms’ group operations director, said his staff had gone “above and beyond” after spotting the blaze at 7am on July 23. He said: “I wish to personally thank Raymond and Paul for their quick thinking and role in assisting the community.”

A fire service spokeswoman said: “The blaze was a fierce one so every minute counted in terms of alerting the fire and rescue service. Fortunately no-one was injured as a result. “Our advice to anyone who suspects there might be a fire is to stay well clear and call 999 immediately.”

Community safety leader Councillor Cammy Day said: “Raymond and Paul’s efforts to alert those living nearby to the fire demonstrate quick thinking and consideration for others, and the council would like to commend them.”

Tuesday 18 August 2015

SubStandard Glass A Killer

A resident of Tianjin, China, injured by glass shards following a massive chemical explosion in the city's port area on Aug. 12. 
Substandard Window Glass Increased the Injury Count in Tianjin’s Harbor Explosion: While over a hundred are confirmed dead and possibly thousands wounded in the conflagration and shockwave associated with the massive industrial explosions that struck the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin on Aug. 12, Chinese media are reporting that shoddily-built window glass in nearby residential buildings is the cause behind a large number of avoidable casualties.

An insider in the real estate business told Haixia Photography News that many developers cut corners in meeting state regulations. It is an open secret in the industry that windows claimed to be made of safety glass or double-layered glass are often, in fact made of plain materials.

Chinese construction ordinance promulgated starting 2004 stipulates that residences constructed that year and after must use safety glass for sizable windows and in public entrances and lobbies.

Upon impact, safety glass disintegrates into small, relatively harmless pieces, while conventional glass breaks up into dangerous shards. The safety risks went unnoticed until the disaster, which has killed at least 112 people, according to official estimates.

Fire and smoke rise from the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, China, early on Aug. 13, 2015.
Many lives could have been saved had safety glass been installed in the affected housing blocs, according to Haixia Photography News, which published a photo essay and explanation to its WeChat account. HPN is a subsidiary of the Shangbang Media Group based in Fujian Province. Its WeChat account is not a formal news agency, but acts similarly to one.

The insider told an HPN reporter that while it is possible that some of the buildings in the New Binhai Area, where the blast took place, may have been constructed before the regulation came into effect, this is unlikely since the area was the site of heavy land development beginning only in 2005.

Many of the identified dead are firefighters. Initially dispatched to put out a blaze in the Tianjin harbor area, their efforts are believed to have triggered one or more chemical explosions, the fires from which are still being mopped up by a chemical warfare unit sent from Beijing. Official Chinese figures put the force of the blasts at 24 tons’ equivalent of TNT, but according to Sina, a Chinese online news portal, expert opinion says that the explosion was in fact in excess of 1 kiloton, hundreds of times the official figure.

According to professor Cheng Kang of Wuhan University of Technology’s school of civil engineering and architecture, a 1 kiloton-airburst will shatter glass 1640 feet away. In the Tianjin explosions, even windows located outside a 2,625 feet radius were damaged by the shockwave.

A residential building located near the site of the massive chemical explosion that leveled part of an industrial zone in Tianjin, a northern Chinese port city.
Jia Jia, a widely-read Chinese blogger, wrote in an essay that “Many people who lived near the Tianjin explosions were injured by the flying glass from their shattered windows. But if builders had used secure glass that conformed to safety regulations, these injuries could have been entirely avoided.”

Jia’s essay, entitled “You’ve Got Candles, I’ve Got a Whip,” was later posted on China Change, a website that features translations of Chinese-language texts from independent sources.

On Aug. 16, the state-run Beijing News reported that hundreds of residents in Binhai had gathered to demand compensation from the authorities for their damaged and destroyed property. The area is densely populated and was home to more than 5,600 households located within 3,280 feet of the blast site.

Monday 17 August 2015

Ben Black Chose Hope

Ben Black was only diagnosed this year with Stage 4 lung cancer that had progressed to his bone marrow by the time it was caught. Remembering Ben Black.
Ben Black chose hope after terminal cancer diagnosis: Ben Black, a 38-year-old Placer High School grad and local window-cleaning business owner, died Aug. 5 after a courageous, hope-filled battle with terminal cancer. Black continued to receive visitors at his hospital bedside and then was allowed to return home, to die surrounded by his family and closest friends, his wife, Emily said.

Black was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in January and his attempt to battle back from the disease was the subject of a Journal story in May. The story also delved into his and Emily’s challenges of raising and providing for five children, ages 13 to less than a year. “Always, up until the very end, he chose hope,” Emily said. “He was a fighter to the very end.”

Black would have turned 39 on Aug. 9. His family went ahead with a birthday dinner of what would have been his chosen foods for the occasion – beef stroganoff, broccoli and chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

Now friends and family are readying for a service to remember him at 2 p.m. Aug. 21 at Auburn Grace Community Church. Donations for the family may be made here. Emily said the family is thankful for all the help it has received.

“He had faith in God and where he was going – he was never afraid of dying,” Emily said. The example of hope will continue. “The hope now is to remember him as he was and in the way that we raised the kids, and what he taught them when he was here,” Emily said.

One of the many posters that was made to aid his treatment.

Friday 14 August 2015

Window Cleaning - Safety First

Window cleaning - safety first.
Window cleaning - safety first: Window cleaning has long been associated with working from height along with all the risks that this involves. But since the advent of water-fed poles, how safe is window cleaning today? And what products are there on the market that can further improve window cleaners’ safety? Ann Laffeaty finds out.

Concern for personal safety is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s society.  Over the past 30 years we have seen a growing trend for items such as infant car seats, personal protective clothing, bicycle helmets and rubberised surfaces for children’s playgrounds. Safety in cleaning has also come under the spotlight and stricter regulations have come into effect to reduce the number of accidents and injuries in the industry.

Window cleaning is one of the riskiest cleaning tasks of all.  It is frequently cited in online polls and on insurance websites as being one of the most dangerous jobs in the world alongside occupations such as logging, mining, fire-fighting and road-working.

The advent of water-fed poles has helped to reduce the number of operatives working from ladders which comes with an obvious risk of falling. But recent events would suggest that the dangers of window cleaning are still very real.

In November 2014, two window cleaners in New York had to be rescued after the cables securing their work basket malfunctioned. This left them dangling precariously at a near 75-degree angle on a platform near the 69th floor of One World Trade Centre. In a dramatic rescue hundreds of feet above the ground, fire department workers had to saw through the windows and haul the two to safety.

In March 2014 a stranded window cleaner in Toronto had to be rescued by firefighters after her hair became caught in a descending rope line. Earlier the same year a window cleaner in the UK sustained serious injuries after falling from a ladder through a conservatory roof.

And in a horrific accident in December 2013, a window cleaner plummeted 47 storeys from the roof of a Manhattan skyscraper. Miraculously the operative sustained only minor injuries after having clung to the scaffolding platform as it fell.

Scores of window cleaning accidents and even deaths are reported every year, usually as a result of falling from height. The EU Work at Height Regulations 2005 alleviated the problem to some extent by stipulating that if a window cleaning task could reasonably be carried out from the ground, that is how it should be done. But this of course is impractical when cleaning skyscrapers and other high-rise buildings.

And in any case, water-fed poles come with their own safety issues. Operators can incur injuries to their arms, wrists or backs when handling unwieldy poles for instance. In some cases, pole sections may fall to the ground and injure passers-by. And cleaning with water-fed poles can lead to a great deal of water spillage which could cause slips and trips on the part of the window cleaner or members of the public, particularly in icy conditions.

Modular systems

Unger is one of those companies to have embraced the challenge of increasing the safety of water-fed pole systems according to product marketing coordinator Axel Droste. “For many years window cleaners have had the choice of two types of pole system: telescopic or modular,” he said.

“However, telescopic poles can tend to flex as they are extended and this brings a subsequent loss of control. They also have some weight issues; for example, a six-section telescopic pole will always have six sections since none of these cannot be removed – so even if you only need to use four sections to clean to the height required, you will still be carrying the weight of six.

“Modular systems, although better at extending without losing rigidity, simply become too heavy when they are extended. And these extensions also add width to the poles which makes them more difficult to handle.”

His says this situation has presented manufacturers with a challenge. “How do you create a water-fed pole system that will clean at heights of up to 65 feet, but that will also be both lightweight and easy to control?” said Droste. “Along with engineering and design techniques it is crucial to use the right materials and combine the best features of telescopic and modular poles. And an increasing number of options are emerging to provide specific solutions.”

Stronger and rigid

According to Droste, water-fed pole materials such as carbon fibre, fibre glass and aluminium have all offered choice and flexibility to the window cleaning sector. “These have helped to create equipment to suit each situation and building type,” he said. “Carbon fibre in particular offers an amazing balance between strength, weight and rigidity. In comparison to steel it is both stronger and more rigid yet weighs considerably less.”

He adds that today’s new lighter poles make the cleaning operative’s job easier, safer and more comfortable while putting less of a strain on their bodies and enabling them to clean more swiftly and efficiently.“The fact that these systems are lighter in weight also means that the operative is less likely to become tired so quickly, which means they can clean a larger surface area than when using a conventional system,” he said.

“However just because the poles are more lightweight it doesn’t mean that they deliver less in terms of rigidity. Even when extensions are added to increase the length and reach of the system, the poles do not bend or become unwieldy. On the contrary rigidity, and therefore control, is maintained which allows every corner and crevice to be cleaned thoroughly”.

Unger offers the nLite modular system which is basically a telescopic pole that can be extended by another telescopic pole, says Droste. The base unit has four sections and an extended length of 6.63 metres while the extension has two sections at a length of 3.41 metres.

“Depending on the material used you can add up to four extensions to reach a height of 20 metres,” he said. “The individual components can be selected and put together to create a system to suit personal requirements. There are six grades of materials in the nLite range to suit various cleaning challenges and budgets.”

He adds that taller buildings need regular, thorough and effective cleaning to ensure that they present a professional face to customers. “But how do you deliver the high standards that are expected while also making the lives of operatives safer and easier?” he said. “Professional 
window cleaners have adapted to these challenges by embracing new methods and equipment.”

According to Moerman director Marc Roels the main health and safety risks for window cleaners include falls from ladders, wrist injuries and falling poles. “Working at Height legislation is moving the window cleaning industry into new directions and spearheading innovative developments,” he said. “It is important that we continually work towards safer practices since there is always 
room to improve.”

Moerman’s latest innovation in terms of safe window cleaning is the Liquidator. This system is said to allow operatives to clean right up to the edges of the window frame, leaving little or no water residue. This is claimed to significantly reduce the amount of time spent on prepping with a cloth.

No stretching

“With our Liquidator there is no real need for detailing,” said Roels. “This means operatives do not need to stretch out with a detailing cloth which can heighten the risks of falling.  The Liquidator also ‘floats’ over the glass which means that less effort is required during cleaning - and this in turn reduces the tension on operatives’ muscles and wrists.”

He says the future of window cleaning will greatly depend on the type of buildings being built. “Skyscrapers, for example, will always need to be cleaned from height but there will continue to be evolutions that allow the task to be carried out more safely,” said Roels.

Unger’s Droste agrees that the building industry will be key in determining the future of window cleaner safety. “Whether we are talking about the Shard in London, the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt or the Torre de Cristal in Madrid, the fashion for high-rise, hi-tech designs featuring plenty of glass and metal does not look like slowing down any time soon,” he said.

“The majority of our most iconic buildings seem to prove the theory that size matters – at least in terms of height. If high-rise buildings continue to be built, window cleaner safety will continue to be a challenge. “

Thursday 13 August 2015

Window Cleaner Heads To Jail After Gross Breach Of Trust

Sean Pinkney was sentenced to 20 weeks behind bars for posting a sexually explicit photo on Facebook of a former partner 'to humiliate her'.
Jealous ex jailed for posting revenge porn on Facebook to 'humiliate' former girlfriend: Caged for five months, Sean Pinkney, 44, is the first in Greater Manchester to be jailed for the lewd act which was seen online by a mother at the victim's child's school

A jealous man has been jailed after posting a ‘sexually explicit’ picture of an ex-girlfriend online in an act of revenge. Sean Pinkney, 44, is the first in Greater Manchester to be sentenced for such an offence. He posted the picture on Facebook and left it there for four hours in a bid to humiliate a former partner, a court heard.

It was only when the victim went to pick up her children from school the following day that another mother told her the picture had been posted online. The mortified victim was ‘quite humiliated and very upset’ and immediately contacted police, who arrested Pinkney. Window cleaner Pinkney has now been locked up for 20 weeks by a district magistrate who described his actions as ‘a gross breach of trust’.

Window cleaner, Sean Pinkney.
The magistrate said the defendant posted the picture ‘solely to humiliate’ the victim and also imposed a restraining order on Pinkney. He said: “I can’t think of a more severe way this could be done. “Four hours in internet terms is a lifetime. A few seconds is a short period of time, four hours certainly is not. “It’s clear other people have viewed this image. Another mother at the school pointed it out.”

Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard that Pinkney and the victim had split up. On July 14, Pinkney sent the victim several phone messages which included sexually explicit pictures of her which she had allowed him to take during their relationship. When she went to collect her children from school the following day, one of the mothers told her the images were on Facebook, the court heard.

Pinkney admitted the offence during police interview and told officers he had posted the image to ‘humiliate’ his former partner as he believed she had sent a topless picture of herself to another man. Pinkney, of Dorning Road in Swinton, pleaded guilty to disclosing a private sexual photograph with intent to cause distress.

Sean Pinkney
Nnamdi Inegbu, defending, said Pinkney was not aware this was a criminal offence until it was pointed out to him at the police station. He said the dad had acted out of jealousy when he saw a picture of the victim showing her body to another man.

Mr Inegbu said Pinkney posted just one picture of the victim to Facebook and had intended to remove it after four hours. He said: “Once he posted it other people on the site asked to share and it snowballed.”

Mr Inegbu said the victim had ‘cheated’ on Pinkney and by sending the picture he had hoped to put some closure on the relationship. He added: “He recognises the emotional distress he has caused.”

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Window Cleaning Contractor On Trial In France

Saint-Malo Brittany.
Window cleaning contractor on trial in France: A window cleaner died after falling off his ladder, resulting in a court case. An accident has been tried by the local criminal court of Saint-Malo following the death of a window cleaner who fell off his ladder.

Nobody saw or heard anything that day inside a superstore near Saint-Malo, in Brittany. While he was cleaning indoor windows Christian Aubert, 46, fell from his ladder and was found unconscious with severe head injuries. This model employee, who had 24 years’ experience, died four days later in hospital without having regained consciousness.

Eight months later his employer, the boss of a cleaning firm with 11 employees found himself before the court, charged with involuntary homicide and infringement of health and safety regulations.

Did Christian Aubert, on the day of his accident, have with him the equipment necessary for carrying out his tasks in accordance with the relevant safety regulation? This was the question the judges had to find an answer to while referring to the company’s internal rules and to the complex French legislation embodied in the Code du Travail.

As far as the company boss was concerned, the victim had been working within the law - he was working on a ladder that carried him to a height of two metres above the ground to clean a glazed surface to a maximum height of 3.6 metres.

“If one takes account of the man’s height and the fact he was working with arms stretched, he must have been at a height of about 1.25 metres above the ground,” argued the employer, who had distributed an internal note prohibiting his workers from climbing without protection to a height of over 1.60 metres.

But there were no witnesses and even the victim’s workmate, who was working next to him, was unable to confirm this assertion. On the other side of the witness stand, lawyers defending the dead employee referred to the work inspector’s report, who had investigated the accident and had concluded that acts of “negligence” had been involved and the employer had been responsible for not abiding by safety regulations.

“In this matter, lack of prudence has been involved, even though it may have been in good faith”, the public prosecutor decided, demanding a 3,500 euros fine.

Meanwhile the defendant has made new arrangements within his company, putting a wheeled scaffolding tower at the disposal of his workers, a device that may not be compulsory but which would have prevented the dramatic accident which struck Christian Aubert.

This case is a reminder that, as regards safety at work, there is no guarantee staff won’t be hit by an accident. This is particularly true of window cleaners, who often have to work at great heights. In this case, a man lost his life while working at less than two metres from the ground.

So far the ruling hasn’t been announced because the case is still being deliberated, but it is generally expected the employer will receive a sentence on the 3rd October when the case in court reopens. 

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Extreme Window Cleaning

A pair of Russian cosmonauts embark on a six-hour space walk, floating more than 200 miles above the earth’s surface, to install new equipment and carry out maintenance tasks including window cleaning. Spacewalk specialist Devan Bolch explained before the walk that the cosmonauts have developed a cleaning tool kit with two swabs with handles on them (pictured). The swabs are kind of a type of terry cloth.
Extreme cleaning! Russian cosmonauts shine ISS windows in a six-hour spacewalk 250 miles above the Earth: It’s an unwelcome task that sees many of us balancing precariously on chairs and ladders.
But window cleaning is far more extreme in space. During a six-hour spacewalk, a pair of Russian cosmonauts cleaned the windows of the International Space Station (ISS) while floating 250 miles (400 km) above the Earth's surface.

Station commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineer Mikhail Kornienko closed the hatch on the station's Pirs module at 20.51 BST yesterday. The window cleaning task was completed during a spacewalk that lasted almost six hours, in which they also carried out maintenance tasks and installed new equipment.

It took six hours and a newly-invented cleaning tool for two Russian cosmonauts to clean the windows of the International Space Station–including a porthole window encrusted with years of dirt left by exhaust fumes from visiting ships.
The cosmonauts finished the expedition 30 minutes ahead of schedule after breezing through their first task - installing equipment to help crew members manoeuvre outside the ISS. They later completed maintenance on various experiments, photographed the Russian section of the space station and cleaned a porthole window to remove years of dirt left by exhaust fumes from visiting ships.

A pair of Russian cosmonauts has cleaned the windows of the International Space Station (ISS), floating 250 miles (400 km) above the Earth's surface. This photo taken from a screen in the mission control cenetre in Korolev outside Moscow shows Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Korniyenko working during their spacewalk.
‘They developed a (cleaning) tool kit with two swabs with handles on them. The swabs are kind of a type of terry cloth,' spacewalk specialist Devan Bolch explained before the walk. ‘It's kind of similar to what you would use on your car headlights, when they get hazy, to clean them.’

The success of the mission will boost spirits in Russia, whose once-pioneering space industry has suffered a string of accidents which have tarnished its reputation. A Proton-M carrier rocket burnt up over Siberia minutes after launch in May, just weeks after technical faults forced Russia to abandon a $51 million (£33 million) ISS supply mission.

The expedition is the fourth ISS spacewalk this year and the 10th for Padalka, who has spent more time in space than any other person. It is Kornienko's second venture outside the station - a $100 billion (£64 billion) research laboratory owned and operated by a partnership of 15 nations.

We could have provided a ladder...

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