Sue Robb of 4Children talks to Julie Laughton and Alison Britton from the Department for Education about the role of childminders in delivering the 30 hours free entitlement.
StormMeister™ Flood Protection is an independent company founded in 2010 by Malcolm Snape, a British engineer and entrepreneur. With over 30 years experience of manufacturing doors Malcolm was aware of the problems with conventional flood doors which rely on pressure exerted by the handle and are consequently difficult to operate and expensive to maintain.
Using water pressure instead of handle pressure was an idea that came to Malcolm whilst he was working as advisor to a uPVC door manufacturer in Akwa Ibom in the Tropical Rain Forest of West Africa. The inspiration was the torrential tropical rain which mainly falls at night and it was during a tropical rain storm Malcolm formed the idea of a flood door that worked by water pressure instead of handle pressure.
On returning to the UK Malcolm set about developing the idea and chose Rehau uPVC profile as the basis for the doors the seal would be designed to work with. The very British Active Flood Seal was therefore to be designed and developed with a German door profile, hence the English/German name StormMeister™ was coined. The StormMeister™ name is now renowned and respected worldwide and is translated into English as Master of the Storm.
Having established the name StormMeister™ in those early days there followed three years of development and testing until Malcolm’s idea, formed in the Tropical Rain Forest of West Africa, was perfected and patented as the StormMeister™ flood resistant door with the StormMeister Active Flood Seal™. To this day the association with Rehau is maintained and StormMeister™ flood doors are fitted throughout the UK and exported worldwide.
However having developed the Active Flood Seal there was still one more problem to solve, the door needed to be universally user friendly and without doubt that included being wheelchair user friendly! It has been estimated that in the UK only one in four commercial premises comply with the law as applied to wheelchair access and one of the problems has been the availability of a wheelchair friendly flood door, a problem that by 2014 StormMeister™ was able to tackle.
From small beginnings in 2010 StormMeister™ had become a major player in the industry and in 2014 opened its own testing facilities in Preston, Lancashire. Those testing facilities became crucial in developing the low threshold wheelchair friendly flood door. Many manufacturers had tried and failed to make a wheelchair friendly flood door for a number of reasons not least because traditional compression seals wouldn’t work with a threshold low enough to be wheelchair user friendly.
At Stormmeister™ the answer to the problem seemed fairly obvious, the StormMeister™ Active Flood Seal was already operating successfully in standard threshold doors so the seal could be made to work in low threshold doors. Or at least that was the theory! The seal would need to be modified in order to fit a low threshold so Malcolm and the StormMeister™ team set about designing the StormMeister™ Low Threshold Wheelchair Friendly flood door.
That turned out to be no easy task, it soon became apparent why so many manufacturers had tried and failed. It wasn’t just the seal, the threshold had to be low enough yet it also had to be strong enough to carry not only wheelchairs but also the much heavier mobility scooters. The StormMeister™ team persevered confident the Active Flood Seal could be adapted to work with a threshold that was low enough and strong enough to do the job.
A low threshold that was low enough and strong enough was eventually obtained and the Active Flood Seal re-designed to fit the low threshold. Not so simple as it turned out because even when the design of the seal was perfected there was the problem of getting the resilience of the seal just right. The seal not only had to resist rising water the seal had to be resilient enough to recover its shape as the water level fell and the water pressure reduced. Failure would result in water flooding in as the floodwater was receding.
It’s not something others in the industry had given much thought to but there’s hardly much point keeping the water out of your house for days only for the water to come flooding in as the water level is falling! In order to solve the problem StormMeister™ worked with the Birmingham based extrusion specialists Extrudaseal who produced a number of seals of various degrees of resilience to the StormMeister™ design.
Finally a few prototype seals later and a number of failed attempts at zero leakage that target was attained in 2015, firstly with a single low threshold door and then with double low threshold doors! Needless to say there was much jubilation at StormMeister™ because the StormMeister Low Threshold Wheelchair Friendly flood door was and still is unique in the world in offering flood protection and easy access for all.