Fire Safety and the Spanish Window Security Grill
The window security grill is common in Spanish-style houses and among Hispanic communities the world over. Originating in 15th century Spain, the window security grill, or reja as it is known in Spanish, has long been used to cover windows not only for decorative purposes, but to allow security while the window is wide open to allow the free flow of air in hot countries.
Originally used instead of expensive glass, the tradition of installing rejas in houses continues to this day. A major difference is the style of houses they are fitted to, as old Spanish type structures consisted of an outer courtyard, the windows of which had grills fitted, leaving plenty space in the courtyard for the inhabitants to escape to in event of fire.
The reja, or window security grill, consists of several solid metal bars (usually wrought iron) installed in a vertical position over outside and ledge of windows, with an ornate pattern designed into the bars. For security, the bars are securely fixed to the mortar around the window, to deter intruders.
This effectively turns a house into a prison, and in event of fire can lead to tragic consequences.
It is common to see window security grills fitted on all downstairs windows, leaving the windows on the upper floors the only escape route in event of fire, and these houses seldom if ever have a stairway fire escape fitted, so there is no safe way to escape a fire.
Some houses, especially those that have experienced a burglary, have fitted security grills to every window and outside door, upstairs and down, turning their house into a potential firetrap.
For some time there have been window security grills available which lock and can be opened, but in event of fire could still cause delay in escape, unless the key is immediately to hand.
Other types can be opened by handle without a lock, but this effectively turns your window security grill into an expensive ornament.
The problem with handles being installed on the actual grill itself means that the security level is lowered, because any potential burglar can reach it just as easily as you. Even situating handles high up on a window will not deter thieves, who have been known to remove whole rejas from their wall fittings to gain access to other people's homes.
To deter this behaviour, many rejas are fitted deep into the walls, so they cannot be forced off. Unless they can open, this makes them even more dangerous in event of fire.
It is now Law in many countries, including parts of the US, to install window security grills that can be opened in event of fire. Unfortunately these by-laws are largely being ignored, due to the steep price difference between normal rejas and opening rejas, and many families have become victims of devastating house fires from which there was no escape.
A new company on the Costa Blanca area of Spain have developed and patented a system that allows a window security grill to be opened by handle from the inside, without the need for a key.
This handle developed by SegurEscape is either wall-mounted or embedded in the wall, and is easily accessible in the dark should the need arise, but impossible for the burglar to retrieve.
The designer explained to me that they are much more expensive because for the welder/designer, the most difficult parts to make in any window security grill are the corners, of which there are 4 normally, but in an opening grill are 18.
The Spanish Fire Service have given their full backing to this company, and it is hoped that changes in the law in Spain will make an opening type of window security grill compulsory, in order to save the many lives lost needlessly each year through the use of fixed grills that turn homes into cages.
Fire safety is paramount is any home.
To contact SegurEscape, telephone +34 962 89 90 67 internationally or 902 88 90 60 from within Spain, or click on the link above.
- SegurEscape -the key-less escape system | Opening window bars | Window emergency escape system | Win
Should you have an emergency, ie, fire or intruders in the property and need to exit quickly, with traditional window bars/rejas, you would be trapped. With SegurEscape patented opening rejas you and your family will never be trapped again.. SegurEsc