Holy High Rise: Local Window Cleaners Explain the Risk

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FORT WORTH -- Wednesday had everyone hanging on the edge of their seat.  As two window cleaners dangled 68 stories high at the One World Trade Center.

Kenneth Collins couldn't help but watch it online.

"Kinda comes with the territory," Collins said.

Yeah, he can relate.  He owns Collins Window Cleaning in Fort Worth, which his dad started in 1978.  There was no getting out of hanging from a high rise with his pop.

"I didn`t have much choice. I was his only worker," Collins said.

The company has cleaned high rises hundreds of times in the DFW area.  Including cleaning ice off the roof of AT&T Stadium.  Even with working in dangerous weather, the company hasn't come close to experiencing what happened in NYC.

"We`ve been fortunate over the many years we`ve been cleaning high rise glass that we haven`t had an accident of that magnitude," Collins explains.  "That`s just the dangers of working with scaffolding."

Collins says the vast majority of accidents in his industry happen on the swing scaffolding and stages.  Which is why his employees use a bosun chair and rope descent when they can.

"Because each man is responsible for himself. He`s able to inspect his own gear.  Secure himself.  It's just a safer way to get the windows clean," Collins said.

You might be surprised to hear there's no licensing or certification required in window cleaning.

"But it is something the IWCA and window cleaning family is working to bring to pass," Collins said.

Right now, it's up to each company to train you and then decide when you're ready to hang high in the air.  You start on the ground.  Then a ladder.  Then a roof.  Then they make the decision if you're ready.  It usually takes a year or more with Collins Window Cleaning to get there.

So, you got the guts to go up 40 stories like Batman?  Gotta tell you.  It'd take a lot longer for me and most others to go up 40 stories.

"It`s quite unique to be able to take a break half way down a 40 story building and swing around and just take in the view," Collins explains.

What does Collins say when people call him nuts?

"I just agree with them and invite them to come and join us," Collins says, smiling.