Volume 8, Issue 1 - January 2007

WDMA Opens Up

Product Safety Advocate
Commitment to Education at the Core of the Industry
by Joel Hoiland

WDMA is a leading life safety and security advocate in the manufacture of windows, doors and skylights. Its important to our customers and to our industry. Our members have a long-standing commitment to product excellence, and safety is a key element of that pledge.

Task Force for Safety
We live out this commitment to product excellence by initiating and engaging in safety and security programs. The Window Safety Task Force, of which WDMA is a founding member, is one such initiative. Working with the National Safety Council (NSC), the task force emphasizes the life-saving role doors and windows play as the primary exits and secondary means of escape in the event of a fire. Doors serve as exits, while windows provide an alternate means of escape.

In collaboration with the NSC and others, we have utilized this collective synergy to address important issues. Were approaching our 10-year anniversary as a member of the Window Safety Task Force which was started by the NSC in 1997. Our work is far from done.

Safety and Security
Windows with safety glazing and impact-resistant glass add to the formula to provide a safe and secure environment. These products, especially those that provide storm resistance, make the premises safer by their sheer nature. A good deal of development and testing continues to go into improving and upgrading these technologies.

Windows also fulfill a critical function during fires. For that reason, residential building codes include strict requirements for minimum sizes of these designated openings, requiring each sleeping room provide such an alternate means of escape or rescue. 
Windows designated as required emergency escape and rescue openings must meet the following criteria:
Minimum opening area of 5.7 square feet (5.0 square feet at grade level);
Minimum opening height of 24 inches;
Minimum opening width of 20 inches;
Maximum sill height of 44 inches; and
Must be operational from inside without keys or tools or special knowledge.
For greater safety, windows within reach of young children should remain closed and locked, or when double-hung windows are available, the bottom sash should remain closed while the top sash is opened for ventilation. In addition, the task force reminds consumers to avoid placing furniture under windows to prevent potential climbing and falling hazards for young children or hinder a quick escape in the event of a fire.
More Awareness
During the spring of 2006, the International Code Council (ICC) addressed the subject of child window falls, bringing more attention to the subject. Prompted in part by a child window fall in suburban Detroit, the ICC approved a motion directing the ICC Code Technology Committee (CTC) to study child window falls. In September 2006, the CTC approved a scope of study for the child window safety project and appointed a five-person study group to perform research and gather necessary data to provide the CTC with information required to move forward with any possible recommendations in the form of code proposals. Mike Fischer, WDMA director of codes and regulatory compliance was appointed to this board; he also serves on the Window Safety Task Force as the WDMA representative.

The CTC scope includes a plan to study the incidence and mechanism of falls from open windows by children and to investigate the necessity and suitability of potential safeguards and/or revisions to the current codes.

Help spread the word about window safety by taking advantage of the free resources mentioned, especially during National Window Safety Week 2007, April 22-28.

the author
Joel Hoiland is the president of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association based in Des Plaines, Ill. He may be reached at jhoiland@wdma.com


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