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New government legislation due to come into force in the United Kingdom on July 1st will require electrical installations in privately rented properties to be tested and inspected at least once every 5 years. The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations (2020) will require landlords to enlist qualified electricians to complete inspections and provide certification to tenants – or face fines of up to £30,000. While the risk of fire can never be entirely eliminated, the new legislation will introduce higher levels of safety and ensure that one of the primary causes of fire – electrical malfunctions – is regularly tested for. There are a number of procedures and regulations in place for when a fire has already started, but this new law will help to reduce the chances of it getting to that point. After all, prevention is the best form of protection. No safety procedure or response plan will ever fully prepare someone for the reality of a fire. However, a comprehensive prevention strategy and use of the latest technologies to quickly detect and respond to a fire can at least reduce the potential risk to both life and property. Defensive detection A fire can spring from many sources. Current standards do a good job of ensuring properties are well equipped to defend against fires created by overcurrent caused by overloads and short circuits. A comprehensive prevention strategy and use of the latest technologies to quickly detect and respond to a fire can at least reduce potential risk However, electrical fires can also result from mistakes made during the installation process, namely loose cabling or aging circuits that will not be detected by overcurrent protection. Indeed, a defective or worn insulation is the cause of 14% of all electrical fires in buildings. The danger of landlords only performing the bare minimum to protect their buildings is that, should a fire start from a source they haven’t accounted for, the loss and disruption to property could be devastating. For maximum protection, individuals need reliable, innovative products that excel beyond the minimum standards to prevent a fire from starting in the first place. The pending legislation will add to this safety from the start. It will require landlords to use qualified electricians when installing, repairing and maintaining systems, benefitting both landlords and tenants by mitigating electrical issues and instilling greater confidence. Protection against insulation faults The risk of cable insulation faults grows over time and the consequences can be severe. Low-intensity arc faults are more likely to occur in humid, dusty environments, causing injury and deadly fires if precautions aren’t taken. Protection against insulation faults within cables can be assured by residual current devices (RCD), which are triggered by earth leakage currents exceeding 300mA. For maximum protection, individuals need reliable, innovative products that excel beyond the minimum standards to prevent a fire from starting Additionally, final circuits in critical locations (as recommended in IEC 60364), should be protected by an arc fault detection device (AFDD). This is a circuit breaker that automatically cuts off the electricity supply when it detects an arc fault in the circuit. By immediately stopping the supply, AFDDs stop arc faults from reaching temperatures where fires can break out. As well as ensuring that private tenants feel more safe and secure, the new legislation represents an opportunity for electricians to secure more work and develop their skills. Going forward, as the demand for electricians in the private rented sector rises, we expect to see greater opportunity for electrical engineers to win long running contracts with landlords and property managers. Fire may be a risk, but it is not unavoidable. This new legislation promises greater peace of mind for private tenants by ensuring that electrical standards are met and hazards reduced. With expert knowledge and the correct approach to electrical fire prevention, a fire can be extinguished before any damage is done.
Over the last decade, fire protection has been transformed by the rise of addressable, IP-based devices embedded in networked fire alarm system infrastructure. The scalability and modular architecture of digital fire alarm systems has unlocked a new level of fire safety, for instance by pinpointing the exact location of a triggered smoke detector in an alarm, or by interfacing with public address systems for phased building evacuations. For system integrators, installation and maintenance of alarm systems have reached new levels of efficiency – including automated service alerts and far fewer false alarms – with unprecedented cost savings. Accordingly, the world market for fire alarm systems has seen significant growth, driven by the digitization of existing systems to meet higher safety standards and legislation. Experts at Grand View Research expect the market to increase from $52.2 billion in 2016 to $93.5 billion by 2022. Addressable systems – including IP-networked smoke detectors and fire panels – already account for more than two-thirds of the alarm technologies segment. And, as analog systems are being phased out, their share will soon be 100 percent. Networked fire alarm systems With that said, all elements are in place for the second, even more fundamental transformation in fire protection: In the near future, a growing amount of networked fire alarm systems will be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). In the near future, a growing amount of networked fire alarm systems will be connected to the IoTThis is part of a larger trend across industries, including smart homes and smart buildings automated by a mixture of sensor data and artificial intelligence (AI). The number of IoT-connected devices worldwide is expected to exceed 14 billion by 2022, more than half of the world’s 28.5 billion connected devices. For technology providers like Bosch, the IoT’s level of networked intelligence calls for a strategic response. “Our strategic target for all of our electronic product categories is to be IoT-enabled by 2020,” said Volkmar Denner, CEO of Bosch. This vision is supported by “3S’s” in Bosch’s connectivity business: sensors, software, and services. In developing and implementing services and solutions for the connected world, Bosch benefits from its expertise in software and sensor technology as well as, in particular, its broad business portfolio. Remote Services lead the way When it comes to bringing the IoT into the fire safety segment, Bosch envisions a future in which connected devices – and their data – open up new kinds of services that offer significant benefits to end customers and system integrators. This digital transformation journey is already well underway, as IoT-based applications are already enhancing the fire safety service offering on several levels. As a prerequisite, networked system architecture such as fire panels and sensors need to connect to the internet via nodes, hubs, and gateways in a secure manner. With this connection in place, the system can communicate with a cloud application server via IP protocol to send real-time data such as device health, battery status, and event history. Networked system architecture such as fire panels and sensors need to connect to the internet via nodes, hubs, and gateways in a secure manner Because system integrators can access these data points from any location without physically visiting the installation on-site, the impact of the IoT so far has been most pronounced in the Remote Services segment with the following three focus areas: Remote Connect. Allows for the remote set-up of a system and programming to customer specifications. Offers cost savings, as set-up can be handled practically without leaving the office for each new installation. Requests for changes can also be implemented at faster turnaround. Remote Alert. In case of fire, the system sends an alert via the remote portal, which can be integrated with messaging systems. Integrators also receive alerts for device outages and malfunctions. Remote Maintenance. The system performs regular health checks and condition monitoring, sent at user-specified intervals. Smart fire detectors also ping administrators for electromagnetic pollution or contamination with dust. Major efficiency gains for system integrators While IoT-based Remote Services already provide major efficiency gains for system integrators, we’re only just scratching the surface of what is possible. At the same time, the foundation for next-generation IoT-connected services is already created today, as the integration between sensors, software, and services increases.It will not only be crucial for devices to work together within the same network In the process of building end-to-end fire safety systems that are ready to connect with the IoT, seamless interfaces with third-party apps and platforms via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) will be a competitive advantage for system technology providers. It will not only be crucial for devices to work together within the same network. It will be even more important that systems can communicate with apps or building management software. On the same note, the ability to provide integrated, IoT-connected services on a secure backbone – safe from hackers and malicious attacks – will be indispensable, because system data is the most valuable resource moving forward. Analyzed correctly, this data holds the key to what comes next. Smart data instead of Big Data Needless to say, the rise of IoT-connected fire alarm systems will create massive amounts of data. This new ‘Big Data’ reality will call for improved data processing capabilities. Not just in terms of quantity: The most relevant services will be derived from smart data provided by IoT solutions in fire safety. The focus lies with data points that matter and making this data actionable by practice-oriented analysis. For a quick glimpse into the process, our IoT data scientists are currently running comparative analyses of several fire alarm systems to gain visibility on problematic incidents, for instance when devices trigger false alarms. New services will have the potential to transform the way in which fire alarm systems are maintainedIn the next step, categorizing all systems that report such incidents into clusters would allow to give system integrators a big picture overview pinpointing exactly those among their managed systems that are at risk and need inspection, repairs, or upgrades. On the technical level, Bosch is using Mongo DB, a universal, document-based database for apps, to perform these quantitative analyses, always with a focus on new services and benefits for customers. As our understanding of this data increases, new services will become possible that have the potential to transform the way in which fire alarm systems are maintained and managed. Whereas today, system integrators can view data points such as device status in their Remote Portal and offer basic maintenance support via cloud-connected apps, tomorrow their service approach will be much more proactive, again thanks to smart data. The next level of IoT-powered services In the future, data from IoT-connected systems can be leveraged to predict automatically at what exact point in time a system component is going to fail. Instead of replacing said component ahead of time, as is the case in today’s preventive maintenance approach, this new predictive service protocol allows to save cost by making maximum usage of the device’s lifespan.This new predictive service protocol allows to save cost by making maximum usage of the device’s lifespan In the bigger picture, the data log of a particular fire alarm installation’s data can provide the basis for targeted system optimization efforts. For instance, if long-term data indicates that sensors in a particular area tend to trigger false alarms because of signal interference, the integrators can perform a deep dive into whether nearby high-voltage cabling is the cause and make adjustments to system architecture accordingly. In the same vein, integrators gain transparency on whether detectors in a certain location tend to need replacement due to dust and contamination, or if electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) with other systems like voice broadcast is causing issues – and take preventative measures. Self-monitoring Fire alarm systems Overall, these data points, together with constant real-time information on system health, will provide system administrators with the tools for planning and maintaining fire alarm systems in a more efficient manner. They can design and install new systems based on the data-powered learnings from previous installations. And they can provide a more customer-centric response to information requests or inquiries for system updates. Most of all, the connection to IoT-based services will provide a new peace of mind: These upgraded fire alarm systems will quietly monitor and secure themselves, and only trigger alarms or notifications when service is needed, while system integrators can focus on more important tasks. Right now, we are building the foundation for making these new IoT-driven services a reality. But compared to what the IoT has is store for the future design of fire alarm systems in buildings, we have only seen the beginning. The biggest benefits are still to come.
Those responsible for the specification of products which go into new modern buildings have been asking for safe, approved cabling, which play a critical part in electrical supply systems. The number of fires in high-rise buildings in Europe and the Middle East have brought the issue of quality of products for fire performance circuits into sharp focus, not least the Grenfell disaster. Meanwhile, new buildings become increasingly complex, with the use of new materials and the designs of many requiring complex electrical systems to support security and fire safety. New and refurbished buildings such as hospitals, schools, shopping malls or airports, may have complex addressable loop fire alarm systems which provide information on individual detectors. Conventional systems only provide information about specific circuits or zones. Indicating exact location of fire, fault For critical alarm circuits in buildings where large numbers of people move about there can be no greater priority than safetyThe addressable systems feature a fire control panel which receives information and status reports from each device, indicating its exact location and if there may be a fire, a fault, heat or contamination. For critical alarm circuits in buildings where large numbers of people move about – many of whom can be vulnerable – there can be no greater priority than safety. The cabling chosen for these systems is therefore critical. If the power to these alarm systems fails because the cabling does not meet the required performance, then the information available for fire and rescue services is directly affected and with it, the chance of finding people who may be in the building. To meet these design challenges, and with the inquiry into the Grenfell disaster still ongoing, it is the use of the very latest technology and science that is taking enhanced fire performance cabling onto a new level. Safe and compliant cable products Decision-makers in the supply chain want reassurance that the products they are specifying are safe and compliant, meeting all recognized specifications. Calls have been made by the Approved Cables Initiative (ACI) for all cable being used in the UK to conform to relevant British, European or international standards amid increasing concerns about the volume of non-approved cables coming onto the market. Installers have welcomed the development of a new generation of fire performance cabling Installers have welcomed the development of a new generation of fire performance cabling which ensures critical fire-safety circuits can continue to operate in the event of a fire from 30 minutes up to 120 minutes. The standard and enhanced cables in the Total Fire Solutions range are tubed, making them a welcome product for contractors with ease of installation. They are all UV stable and they all come with a hard insulant to resist any fault generation over time. These cables meet all relevant industry standards including ISO 9001 and is approved by the leading industry organizations nationally and worldwide including BASEC and LPCB. Carrying out fire risk assessment For the fire and rescue services, the continuity of power means they can continue to read fire alarm system information which can direct them to the seat of the fire and help to locate people who may be in the building. Responsibility for choosing the right system lies with the ‘responsible person’ under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in business or any other non-domestic premises. This will be the owner, employer, landlord, or may be the facilities manager or building manager. As the responsible person, he or she must carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly and put in place and maintain appropriate fire safety measures. Ultimately, the responsible person faces a fines or jail if they fail to follow these measures and there is a fire. For some buildings, it is crucial to select the highest quality products to meet the most rigorous third-party tests and real-life fire scenarios Any items or products which go into these fire safety systems must be covered by standards set by national, European and international bodies such as British Standards. These will certify that when needed these products will perform their function and operate as expected in real life fire conditions. Ensuring cables meet fire safety standards In support of these standards, cable industry bodies provide testing regimes to ensure that different types of cable are fit for purpose and meet these standards when tested in fire conditions. For installers, or those procuring cables, there is a need to check the cable when it arrives to make sure it is exactly what was specified. Instances of unsafe non-approved cable continue to come to lightFor some buildings, it is crucial to select the highest quality products to meet the most rigorous third-party tests and real-life fire scenarios. These include environments such as hospitals, schools and care homes where older people and children move about. Specifiers looking at new large public sector projects such as hospitals should refer to BS 8519 for the electrical supply, and the most relevant cabling system. Counterfeit Flexible Cords campaign Instances of unsafe non-approved cable continue to come to light. Unsafe flexible cord, intended for use in domestic and industrial applications, has been found on sale in the UK recently, prompting the ACI to issue a fresh alert to the electrical supply chain. The latest find of sub-standard flexible cords is marked ‘Made in Turkey’ and ‘Ermaks’. Samples came to light following the initiative’s recent ‘Counterfeit Flexible Cords’ campaign which alerted the electrical supply chain to dangerous industrial flexible cords. We in the supply chain should all be vigilant to watch out and report these instances of non-compliant cabling wherever we see or suspect they have been installed, while developing only the safest products and systems of our own. We shouldn’t forget that we all have a duty and a responsibility where lives and property are at stake. Importance of MV cables to infrastructure Medium Voltage (MV) cables coming onto the market should be independently approved and certified as compliantThe demand for power has never been greater, with the explosion of development in towns and cities across the UK and the growth of industrial development and technology reliant on consistent supplies. Medium Voltage (MV) cables coming onto the market should be independently approved and certified as compliant as the pressure mounts on the installation of quality products in modern building developments. MV cables are crucial to our infrastructure. Electricity leaves the generating site and is routed via a step-up transformer to take it up to the National Grid distribution voltages of 400Kv, 275Kv and 132Kv. Once in the local area, the supply goes through step-down transformers that reduce the voltage to 415V with domestic supplies tapped off at 230V. To provide power to the sub-stations – very often located on the premises of the establishment that they supply – Medium Voltage (MV) cables are used. MV cables were only developed as the level of voltages increased and the need arose for a greater classification range. design and specification of the cables The technical design and specification of the cables is of paramount importance within the power distribution networkThe size of the market has developed to the point where the global MV cables market was valued at 39.31billion US dollars in 2016 and projected to grow at a rate of more than six percent until 2022. The technical design and specification of the cables themselves is of paramount importance within the power distribution network. There are a number of technical considerations to be taken into account including the size of the installation, the position of the installation in relation to the network and the presence of primary and secondary sub-stations. Prior to installation, a detailed route survey should also be carried out to plan where cables will be jointed and to identify any possible obstructions which may require special civil engineering works such as directional drilling. Underlying the critical nature of supplies to these types of services, the incidence of non-approved cables for these applications also plagues the industry.