Extinguishers - Expert Commentary

Maintaining Fire Safety Through A Pandemic
Maintaining Fire Safety Through A Pandemic

There have been challenges with completing fire safety maintenance and installation projects during the current Covid-19 crisis, most notably as a result of the difficulties for installers in safely accessing sites. Many construction projects halted for lockdown and this resulted in approximately 50% of the British installers we work with having to furlough staff. The challenges, however, are not just restricted to the UK. With Kentec panels sold in more than 90 countries across the world, we have seen varying challenges on a global scale. Throughout this crisis, fire safety continues to be paramount and as such key players, such as Kentec, are rightly considered essential businesses. We have continued manufacturing life safety systems throughout the current difficulties and it has been our mission to ensure that where new installations can take place, our panels are readily available to installers, as well as the expertise and technical support that goes with it for ongoing maintenance. Orders for spare parts have also, in fact, been consistently high during this period, as installers have been able to complete minor upgrades safely and end users have taken advantage of the period to do so. Adapting manufacturing processes to align with government guidelines so that customers have not experienced any supply issues with any life safety systems or parts has been a major success. Critical Infrastructure We’ve personally seen an increase in sales for our industry-leading Sigma XT extinguishant panels during this crisis as it is widely used within critical infrastructure, in sectors such as telecommunications, data centres and healthcare. Adapting manufacturing processes to align with government guidelines has been a major success During lockdown, with a vast proportion of the population working from home and relying on the internet to conduct their business and virtual meetings, it has been more important than ever that there is no loss in service in broadband and telephone services. This means that highly reliable and robust fire extinguishing systems are essential to protect essential workers and vital equipment – not only from the risk of fire, but also from the catastrophic damage that false alarms and the release of extinguishant could have, for example, on server room equipment. Understandably, this has resulted in considerable investment in fire systems in these sectors. Glasgow’s Louisa Jordan NHS Facility The recent fire safety installation at the Louisa Jordan NHS Facility Glasgow – located at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) which provides more than 500 COVID-19 beds – is just one example of essential fire safety work being completed during lockdown. Vipond Fire Protection Ltd installed a total of seven Sigma XT gas suppression panels, and 32 detectors located within the electrical room that serves the 10,000m2 facility. The project was completed in what was an extremely tight seven-day turnaround, delivering proven reliability within a crucial healthcare facility. Kentec's Experience Operating Through Covid-19 We have learned that operating through this crisis and supporting installations that are going ahead is best achieved through detailed planning, communication and collaboration. For example, we’re supporting our distributors by shipping directly to their customers, when it is not safe or feasible to open their warehouses. Operating through this crisis is best achieved through detailed planning, communication and collaboration Our own workforce is also adapting to changing work patterns and demands. In the factory, at a practical level, this has meant implementing new shifts schedules starting from six o’clock in the morning to ten o’clock at night to ensure there are never too many people on site at one time. We have staggered arrival, leaving and break times to mitigate any risks involved at entrances, and we were lucky that space allowed us to make the canteen area bigger and increase the number of toilets from three to ten. We have moved work benches to ensure a safe distance between each employee, and where workflows make two-metre distancing impossible we have installed six- and eight-foot screens. Face masks have been provided to all staff and we are also trialling face shields for further comfort and protection. Our office staff have worked from home, and where going to the office has been necessary, they have similarly adhered to staggered arrival times. Internal communication has been essential and I’m immensely proud and extremely thankful for the positivity, proactivity and support that employees have shown through this process.     We have also adapted our Kentec Installation Partner (KIP) scheme to be fully remote to ensure training and support is there when it is needed for our installers. We are hosting webinars as another forum to solve installer queries remotely, and our new range of Taktis panels have highly advanced networking capabilities and a vast suite of communication tools that support remote monitoring. It is therefore critical that our installers fully understand how to help end users realise the benefits such panels can deliver and to ensure their installations are completed successfully. Looking Ahead To The New Normal Remote monitoring will become increasingly important beyond this crisis We feel that remote monitoring will become increasingly important beyond this crisis and the advanced communication capabilities of panels will be essential for both installers and end users alike. For installers it reduces the amount of time required on site, because they can access the system remotely to find out what equipment or parts they need to take with them. Similarly, for end users they can access systems remotely to check any alerts or queries off site if necessary. It remains to be seen how the rest of 2020 will pan out, but where projects have been necessarily put on hold, because of the essential nature of our industry we are confident that installers will be able to quickly and easily return to these projects when it is safe and feasible to do so. Communication, collaboration and support will continue to be essential in mitigating the challenges in our future ‘new normal.’

Fire Safety In Subsurface Environments
Fire Safety In Subsurface Environments

  Fire safety in road or rail tunnels is critical in avoiding potentially disastrous incidents Roger Wilton, Assistant Technical Manager of the Fire Industry Association (FIA), explains the challenges of preventing underground fires. Fires in tunnels tend to make headline news, largely because of the potential loss of life that such an incident presents. At the turn of the new millennium three catastrophic fires in as many years ensured that tunnel protection became a real focus on the fire safety agenda. In 1999 the Mont Blanc tunnel fire, probably the most well known of the three, resulted in 39 deaths when a Belgian transport truck caught fire, resulting in temperatures of 1,000°C and taking some five days to cool sufficiently for crews to enter the tunnel to begin three years of repairs and significant enhancements of the safety equipment and procedures. This was followed in November 2000 by the Austrian Kaprun funicular tunnel fire which killed some 155 people as they headed for the pistes in a popular ski area some 350 kilometres to the west of Vienna.  Then, in October 2001, the St Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland, the third longest road tunnel in the world, saw two lorries collide to create a fire that killed eleven people. Tunnel fires have, of course, occurred before and since but three such major incidents in such a short timeframe highlighted very clearly the dangers of tunnel fires and the need to recognise the specific challenges that tunnels present in terms of fire safety engineering. When construction work is undertaken in an underground location, the project plan for safety and in particular fire safety needs to address the extra risks associated with work in an area that, by definition, will have limited means of escape. The area will inevitably be one in which ventilation will be restricted. Lighting will also be a prime consideration. Risk Assessment A comprehensive and dynamic fire risk assessment document is essential for creating a successful fire safety strategy   Managing an emergency successfully is a matter of planning, having the correct equipment in place and employing an effective maintenance programme to ensure that the equipment works when required. The first essential is a risk assessment undertaken by a competent person. Particularly during the construction phase of a project, the risk assessment needs to be a dynamic working document that changes as the work progresses. The ownership and authorship of said document needs to be one of the project manager’s prime tasks. It should link to a project fire and safety strategy document that indicates how the risks identified are being managed and how the process for emergencies are to be handled. For example, if a risk from mechanical plant operating in the underground location is identified, the strategy may require that a mechanical plant containing volatile fuel or gas be fitted with an automatic fire suppression system and that during operation a specified number and type of portable fire extinguishers be available. The strategy document may also require that persons operating the equipment undertake specific training on the use of fire extinguishers. Fire risk and fire strategy are the tools of the trade for driving down financial loss and reducing project delay. A fire risk assessment follows a logical pattern Identify fire hazards Identify people particularly at risk Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risks Record, plan, instruct, inform and train Review the plan Specific fire risks in construction work underground are determined on each site. However, all such work will need to consider the following when producing a proposed fire strategy: Difficulties in providing means of escape. Enclosed environment ventilation issues. Access for emergency services.   Whilst tunnels are constructed, fire hazards must be identified and correct fire safety measures taken During a construction project the first requirement of the risk assessment is to identify the fire hazards. This may be one of the most challenging problems as identifying what will burn and is potential ignition risk is linked to use and the experience of the user. The hazards will change as the construction progresses. The risk will increase as initial construction gives way to first and second fix. The materials used in construction are often delivered in flammable packing to prevent transit damage. A management process for safe storage and for efficient removal of packaging materials is required. The need for fire extinguishers suitable for Class A fires (those involving solid materials, such as paper wood or textiles) is apparent. The construction programme can be part of the risk control programme. For example, the completion of enclosed stair routes before other work proceeds can help address safe escape routes. Early provision of a ventilation system will assist in control of the environment to allow escape. Control of the area by a ‘permit to work’ system and a temporary fire alarm system can assist in the risk reduction process. All of the above underlines my assertion that the risk assessment needs to be a dynamic working document that changes as the work progresses. The fire protection of an area can be enhanced by using heat or smoke detection. The services that a tunnel normally carries can form part of the detection. For example, fibre optic cables can form the sensor for a linear heat detection system that can provide precise location information. As with many fire situations, providing warning at the earliest possible point is the goal and identifying the source of a fire is a significant factor in this process. CCTV systems can also provide a smoke detection output as well as supplying video information. From construction to use Once the construction phase is complete the elements of the operation of a tunnel need to be built into the equation. The risk and the fire load - that is the amount of combustible material in the area or passing through - need to be recognised and the fire protection measures employed accordingly. The requirement for fire fighting systems and the location of portable fire extinguishers will depend on the use to which the structure will be put. If personnel are normally located within a given area of the tunnel, the system to alert them to potential danger needs careful consideration. The variety and versatility of voice and message sounders is an important factor here, with voice-based messaging increasingly being used to provide a precise instruction for an evacuation that is not available from a purely tone-based sounder. Rising to the challenge   Both Europe and the USA are conducting ongoing research into methods of more effectively reducing the threat of underground tunnel fires Tunnels provide their own unique fire safety challenges, whether during the construction phase or when the tunnel is actually in use. This article has only scratched the surface of what needs to be considered. Extensive research is ongoing, both in Europe and in the USA, to find methods of further reducing the threat of fire. This is not only in terms of fire prevention, testing the relative strengths and, importantly, the weaknesses of different fire detection technologies, but also in providing the means for safe evacuation to prevent the tragic loss of life which the three incidents highlighted at the outset demonstrate only too well. Roger Wilton - Assistant Technical Manager - Fire Industry Association (FIA)

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Secutech Vietnam 10th Anniversary Witnessed Record-breaking Increase In Visitor Numbers
Secutech Vietnam 10th Anniversary Witnessed Record-breaking Increase In Visitor Numbers

At Secutech Vietnam 2017 there were 270 exhibitors from 20 countries and regions The 10th edition of Secutech Vietnam will be remembered for its record-breaking increase in visitor numbers. The show welcomed 12,097 global visitors (2016: 7,473) – up 62% on last year, as exhibitors seized the opportunities presented by one of the most promising security markets in Southeast Asia. 270 exhibitors from 20 countries Across 9,000 sqm of gross exhibition space, there were 270 exhibitors from 20 countries and regions: Australia, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Norway, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, the UAE, the UK and the US. The likes of Bosch, Dahua, EN3, Everdigm, Force 21, GIGA, Hikvision, Himax, Honeywell, NAFFCO, Nittan, Questek, Rapidrop, Seagate, SFFECO, Synology, Techpro and Vantech were amongst the leading security and fire brands at the fair. In addition, three pavilions were in place during the course of the show. The Silversea Pavilion housed integrated and smart security solutions, while the UL Pavilion showcased fire safety systems and technologies. At the KFI Pavilion, a number of Korean companies exhibited their state-of-the-art product designs and innovations. Speaking of the results of this edition, Deputy General Manager of Messe Frankfurt New Era Business Media Ltd, Ms Regina Tsai, said: “The security market here in Vietnam is maturing, and shows a high demand for cross-sector technologies. Basic components cannot satisfy the market anymore. Therefore, as you can see, exhibitors have incorporated features for intelligent security solutions, smart buildings, smart city, home automation and fire safety and rescue opportunities in their products.” Across 9,000 sqm of gross exhibition space, there were 270 exhibitors from 20 countries and regions Advanced devices for end users Both newcomers and long-term exhibitors are aware of this market shift in Vietnam. Thus, they have introduced a plethora of advanced devices to end-users to the region. First-time exhibitor Boon Edam is a manufacturer of security entrances and revolving doors. The company’s Export Area Sales Manager, Mr Paul Liu, said: “With its surging economy, Vietnam is a rising market for the security industry with all kinds of opportunities. This is our first time exhibiting at Secutech Vietnam. It is amazing that the leading brands are all here at the show, which I believe is one of the reasons why there is a large flow of visitors.” Meanwhile, GES Co, an advanced security system provider, was delighted to meet target customers during the three-day show. Project leader of Overseas Business Division, Mr Hyun-il Ko, commented: “This is our first year exhibiting at Secutech Vietnam. We think the trade fair is well-organised in terms of visitor traffic and show arrangement. We’re excited to meet up with many distributors coming from commercial and government sectors. We’ll absolutely consider coming back next year.” Advanced technologies on display For some long-term exhibitors, Secutech Vietnam is a place to present their most advanced technologies. Drones and VR for security and rescue purposes as well as facial recognition management systems are some of the hot items. For instance, Vantech’s International Sales Manager, Mr Florian Le Guen, said: “This year, we’ve seen the highest traffic at the trade show than previous ones. Secutech Vietnam is an important business platform in Vietnam for security companies to show new products, and for visitors to see the future of technology.” Managing Director of Aventura, Mr Jack Cabasso, also commented: “Vietnam is the most significant emerging security market in the region and Secutech Vietnam fulfils the industry needs. We’ve seen a great amount of high quality attendees with current and upcoming security product requirements at the show this year.” The Global Digital Security Solutions Forum received positive feedback from both speakers and attendees Events and seminars What’s more, Secutech Vietnam offered more than just business opportunities to industry players. A series of concurrent events featuring leading security firms and associations aimed to disseminate insights and market trends. The Fire & Safety Seminar examined the most recent developments and applications of fire equipment. In addition, the Global Digital Security Solutions Forum, with the theme ‘Play Smart in Security – Applying Smart Solutions with Utmost Added Values’, received positive feedback from both speakers and attendees. The Asia Fire Protection Inspection Council General Meeting also concluded on a high note, with its exclusive 10 member countries discussing issues in their respective markets. There was also the Outdoor Demo Zone which displayed the latest fire equipment.  Secutech Vietnam 2018 Secutech Vietnam is supported by the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Science & Technology, the Ministry of Planning & Investment, the Ministry of Industry & Trade, the Ministry of Construction, and the Ministry of Transport. The next edition will be held 16-18 August 2018 at the Saigon Exhibition & Convention Center, Ho Chi Minh City.

Saudi Arabia Predicted To Become Second Largest Homeland Security Market By 2018
Saudi Arabia Predicted To Become Second Largest Homeland Security Market By 2018

Protex Arabia was launched in response to increased demands for fire services and alarm systems Saudi Arabia’s homeland security market is forecast to become the second largest in the world after the United States, with an expected worth of a massive US$97 billion in the next 7 years. This equates to a massive US$12 billion spend per year, highlighting very real business opportunities in this rapidly evolving market.As tensions increase in the security environment around the Middle East, authorities are now ramping up efforts to source the latest in counter measures and security systems to meet their increased needs. Security fences, thermal scanners, monitoring and surveillance systems, biometric readers and specialised arms and hazard control equipment are in high demand as measures are sought to protect pipelines, oil and industrial installations, as well as air and sea ports. Saudi Arabia supplies the majority of the world’s crude oil and 50% of its GDP being contributed by the oil and gas sector, the security of this sector alone is a very real risk to the Kingdom.The construction industry in Saudi Arabia, has also seen an increased awareness of the problems and enforcement of safety regulations, due to the number of major projects underway in Saudi Arabia, including the US$6 billion development of the Makkah-Madinah Railway, the expansion of King Abdulaziz International Airport and the development of Jeddah Islamic Seaport. These projects have lead to a boom in demand for safety training and equipment, fire services, detection and alarm systems. Protex Arabia gives firms with a serious interest in the fire markets the opportunity to meet with the key decision makers in the Kingdom In response to these market developments, the first international trade exhibition to focus on fire, safety and protection in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Protex Arabia 2011 was launched. The event took place at the Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events and has been inspired by the outstanding demand from both local and international market leaders such as Firex, NAFFCO, Harco, Bosch, SFFECO and Dupont, who have recognised the long-standing need for a platform of this sort in Saudi Arabia. The event, run jointly by two market leading organisers - The CWC Group and Al-Harithy Company for Exhibitions - focused on the three areas that are the fastest growing sectors and crucial to the Kingdom; commercial, IT and aviation security, homeland security & policing, fire and rescue and health and safety. Trade professionals could enter the exhibition for free by registering online, or alternatively on-site at the exhibition venue.Saudi Arabia has vast opportunities for international companies looking to expand their business in the region and internationally. “To win business in Saudi Arabia, companies must be present and showcase products and services in the Kingdom, meet the people, the agents, representatives and the customers who will affect decisions,” says The CWC Group’s Exhibitions Director, Rob Percival. “Protex Arabia gives all firms with a serious interest in the fire, safety and protection markets, the opportunity to meet with the key decision makers in the Kingdom and discuss and gather first-hand information about state-of-the-art technologies and services, whilst also networking with the biggest international companies of the industry,” he adds.The site of Protex Arabia 2011, the state-of-the-art Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events, is the Kingdom’s modern international exhibition centre tailor-made for big international trade shows.  The exhibition complex included an interactive demonstration area, allowing special outdoor demonstrations and live displays. Protex Arabia was the first opportunity in the Kingdom to view special demonstrations of the latest unmanned drone technology, thanks to leading Saudi systems integrator SecuTronic, as well as presentations from armoured Hummer manufactures, CCTV, the Police K9 unit and fire service. In addition to this, SFFECO hosted an awards ceremony for exhibitors awarded special contributions to the industry.  

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