The glazing industry and associations are applauding the steps taken by Florida legislators that protect consumers in that state from fraudulent hurricane protection. Florida HB 849, signed on July 1, makes it a violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, to advertise, sell, offer, provide, distribute or market any product as hurricane, windstorm or impact-resistant unless it is in compliance with the provisions for product approval in the Florida Building Code.
Following approval of the bill, window manufacturer PGT Industries in Venice , Fla., posted information on its website encouraging consumers to “receive the protection that you were promised.” The company is encouraging consumers to ask for the approval numbers or codes.
“Once a product meets or exceeds the stringent compliance testing specified by the Florida Building Code, it is then assigned an approval number,” PGT tells consumers.
WinDoor Inc., another Florida manufacturer of impact-resistant products, also says the legislation will go a long way in helping consumers make informed decisions.
“Ensuring that products are properly represented in their advertising allows the consumer to make an informed decision on the level of security and performance they desire,” says George Hanus, marketing manager of WinDoor.
“This legislation can only have a positive impact on the manufacturers who work hard to ensure that all minimum standards are met for their products,” adds Jerry Decker, general manager for WinDoor. “In the competitive landscape that exists today, it is difficult for a manufacturer who has invested in the required R&D, testing and certification requirements to compete with a manufacturer who may represent his products to be something they are not–hurricane tested.”
The Fenestration Manufacturers Association was one group that lobbied the Florida legislature for passage of this bill, and its executive director, Dick Wilhelm, applauds Florida’s decision.
“This provision in the Florida statutes will take unscrupulous hurricane protection products off of the market, thus providing a level playing field for the manufacturers that have to spend untold dollars complying with impact testing and certification of their products to ASTM E 1886/1996 and/or Miami-Dade 201 – 203,” he says.
The International Hurricane Protection Association (IHPA) also expressed concern to consumers and government authorities about the growing trend of untested and unapproved products being marketed as hurricane and windstorm protection over the past several years.
“If you see pictures of windblown palm trees, satellite images of hurricanes and wording such as ‘protection against severe weather,’ what is the consumer to think?” says Thomas Johnston, IHPA president. “Advertisers would imply hurricane protection and hide behind the claim that they did not actually state it.”
While Johnson is pleased with the bill’s passage he says the association will now take this message to other states.
“We consider this legislation in Florida to be a win for the consumer and legitimate manufacturers and contractors who provide these protection products on a daily basis,” he says. “Our job will now be to carry this message to other states and regions. We look forward to the day when all hurricane prone regions are promoting products that comply with the testing and approval standards required under the International Building Codes.”