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Products for electrical systems that are installed into modern, complex buildings have to be fit-for-purpose for today’s challenging demands. With the background of numerous incidents still being felt by the fire performance industry, how is it to set the benchmarks for the future to make sure there is never another Lakanal House or another Grenfell? The long-term answer is for clearer guidance and legislation, if necessary, to enable the whole supply chain to make decisions which are compliant when choosing products. In the meantime, with the Grenfell inquiry projected to go on during 2019, what is the benchmark?The development of LSZH materials was accelerated following the King’s Cross Underground disaster in which 31 people died Cables With LSZH Materials We have standards through British Standards (BS) and testing regimes which cables should meet to validate that they meet these standards with approvals from various industry bodies including BASEC and LPCB. At AEI Cables, we have developed our Total Fire Solutions range of cables and accessories for all fire safety applications, incorporating Low Smoke Zero Halogen (LSZH) features. Traditional PVC cables which produce vast amounts of dense black smoke, toxic fumes and acid gas when exposed to fire, bring an added danger to people who may be caught in the fire. Cables which incorporate LSZH materials emit very little of these substances. In a real fire situation, the cables will enable the fire and rescue services to find and evacuate people and help to protect property Smoke And Noxious Gases Cause More Casualties The development of LSZH materials was accelerated following the King’s Cross Underground disaster in which 31 people died, many of them from toxic fumes. London Underground has banned the use of PVC cables as a result. The adoption of LSZH for cables and other materials is also endorsed by the Building Regulations themselves. According to Part B, referencing fire safety, it says clearly: “The primary danger associated with fire in its early stages is not flame but the smoke and noxious gases produced by the fire. They cause most of the casualties and may also obscure the way to escape routes and exits. Measures designed to provide safe means of escape must therefore provide appropriate arrangements to limit the rapid spread of smoke and fumes.” Helping Fire And Rescue Services The very latest in technology and science, including LSZH materials, offers enhanced fire performance cablingThe very latest in technology and science, including LSZH materials, offers enhanced fire performance cabling, accessories and technical support ensuring critical fire-safety circuits can continue to operate in the event of a real fire from 30 minutes up to 120 minutes. In a real fire situation, these cables will enable the fire and rescue services to find and evacuate people and help to protect property. At the same time, there is still evidence of non-approved cabling still coming onto the market, and we simply cannot compromise quality of these products being used in these applications. Applications include residential and commercial buildings, shopping malls, airports and protected buildings with a track-record ensuring that fire alarms, sprinkler systems, building monitoring and security systems can continue to operate in a fire.
The continuity of power in the event of a real fire has never been more important as modern buildings become more complex and the need for the highest quality of products comes under the spotlight. With power for lighting and fire alarms, the fire and rescue services can use the intelligence gathered to evacuate people quickly, confident that they have found all the people in the building. Without power, they are literally scrambling in the dark without good information upon which to make their rescue. The continuity of power will also ensure that sprinkler or water mist systems can continue to operate where they exist. In commercial buildings, there may also be smoke evacuation fans which help to enable safe evacuation. Fire alarms may be digital, with loop systems which will provide information for fire and rescue services Appropriate Cabling At the start of a project, the most appropriate cabling should be specified as part of the electrical system rather than at the end of a project. Fire alarms may be digital, with loop systems which will provide information for fire and rescue services across individual areas and floors. At the same time, there are new designs, materials and products continually coming on to the market for major projects, and with it an increasing need for the various parties involved to work closely together to make sure they get it right. There has been an increasing incidence of non-approved cables on the market and unfortunately it is not until cables have been installed, tested or used that issues become clear. 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. Should there be a problem, have it checked and seek good advice. Keep records of purchase, including reel flanges with batch markings and a sample of the cable markings. Send lengths for testing and then decide on the most appropriate course of action. Choice of cabling is crucial at the start of major projects as issues may occur later Meeting Rigorous Third-Party Tests 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. 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. It is crucial to select the highest quality products to meet the most rigorous third-party tests This Code of Practice specifies that the type of system selected during the design phase ‘should be derived from a detailed process of consultation with the relevant authorities’ and that ‘the design should be agreed at an early stage.’ The decision-making process for cable selection relevant for life safety and firefighting systems is clearly defined here. This covers three categories ranging from 30 minutes to 120 minutes fire survival time. Categories 1 and 2 cover means of escape for 30 minutes and then 60 minutes respectively, and these cables are tested in accordance with the relevant codes. Category 3 for firefighting to 120 minutes refers to power and control cables meeting the 120-minute test according to the relevant standards. It should be emphasised that only Mineral Insulated Cable (MIC) or a cable meeting the requirements of BS7846 F120 will meet this criteria. For clarity, BS 8519 does not take precedence over BS 5839 for alarm systems and BS 5266 for emergency lighting. In essence, choosing the most relevant cabling and electrical accessories which will continue to operate under fire conditions has become critical. Application Of Medium Voltage Cables As the incidence of non-approved cables continues then so the application of Medium Voltage (MV) cables into high-risk environments including hospitals, schools, care homes, industrial sites and sub-stations serving infrastructure sites also becomes critical. In the context off fire engineering, it is important to select the relevant MV Cables in these areas. Adhering to the latest regulations is no longer enough - there needs to be a risk assessment. In order to do this effectively, it is important to ask – are the fire safety procedures up to date? All AEI MV cables are third party tested and approved by BASEC. Educational establishments including schools, colleges and laboratories are some of the most prone structures to fire hazards The whole supply chain needs to take consideration of these areas where vulnerable people often move about such as children or elderly people in hospitals or care homes. The fire and rescue services may need a little more time than a conventional building including reading complex fire alarm information to ensure a safe rescue in the event of a real fire. Educational establishments including schools, colleges and laboratories are some of the most prone structures to fire hazards. This is due to ageing structures, high volume of combustible materials, and changing use in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths programmes where more combustible and flammable liquids are being used. Concerns have been raised by architects and and designers about fire protection regimes Sufficient Fire Risk Assessment Recent research by the Fire Brigades Union, for example, showed that a key focus for all educational institutions must be ensuring that there is an effective fire risk management process in place, delivered by suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment carried out by an expert in the field. The best practice under Business Information Modelling (BIM) and all best practice of fire safety engineering methods should be observed in conjunction with project partners. There have been concerns over a number of years around the fire protection regime for new buildings expressed by the architects and designers themselves. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) points to the delays to Approved Document B with regard to the relationship of Building Regulations to changing design and construction. AEI Cables provides a full range of cabling products through its Total Fire Solutions service RIBA says the virtual disappearance of the role of the clerk of works or site architect and the loss of independent oversight of construction and workmanship on behalf of the client is a further issue for concern. In essence, RIBA believes that future proposals for the fire safety regulatory regime should be informed by the specialist fire safety expertise of relevant professional organisations and groups, and also take full account of this wider set of construction industry AEI Cables provides a full range of cabling products through its Total Fire Solutions service with the support of its parent company Ducab based in Dubai, with the design, manufacture and supply of MIC, Firetec Enhanced or Firetec Power depending on specific needs. The choice of cabling and accessories should not be underestimated at the earliest opportunity to ensure the fire and rescue services are given every chance of success in rescuing people and saving property.
While whole room protection – sprinklers or gas systems – is a common choice, there is an argument for thinking smaller; taking fire detection and suppression down to the equipment, enclosures and even the components where a fire is most likely to start. Traditional Fire Suppression Methods A traditional water-based sprinkler system is the most common form of fire protection found in commercial and industrial buildings. They offer reasonable cost, large area protection for entire facilities, safeguarding the structure and personnel by limiting the spread and impact of a fire. Every square foot of the protected area is covered equally regardless of the contents of the space, whether it’s an empty floor or an object with an increased risk of fire. Sprinklers aren’t always the most appropriate choice. Not all fires are extinguished by water of course, and in some cases, water damage can be just as harmful or even more so than the fire. They are an impractical choice for instance for facilities housing anything electrical, such as data centres and server rooms. There is also the risk of accidental activation, with an estimated cost of up to $1,000 for every minute they are left running. Water damage can be just as harmful or even more so than any fire, so sprinklers may not be appropriate Targeted Supplementary Fire Suppression An alternative method to protect whole server rooms and data centres is gas fire suppression, which either suppresses the fire by displacing oxygen (inert) or by using a form of cooling mechanism (chemical/synthetic). These aren’t without risk; in the case of inert gas, oxygen is reduced to less than 15% to suffocate the fire, but must be kept above 12% to avoid endangering the lives of personnel. Similarly, clean agent gas can be toxic in high doses. There are smaller, focused systems that give the option of highly targeted supplementary fire suppression within fire risk areas. Installing a system directly into the areas most at risk, means that fires can be put out before they take hold and cause serious damage. Both sprinkler and gas systems can contain a fire, but micro-environment or closed space systems are completely automatic, detecting and suppressing the fire so rapidly that activating a sprinkler or gas total flooding system often isn’t necessary. The most popular enclosure fire suppression systems achieve this though the use of a flexible and durable polymer tubing that is routed easily through the tightest spaces. The tubing is extremely sensitive to heat and, because it can be placed so close to potential failure points, detects it and releases the fire suppression agent up to ten times faster than traditional systems. An airline was forced to cancel over 2,000 flights after a “small fire” in one of its data centers Cost-Effective Fire Protection Highly customizable, small enclosure fire suppression is specifically designed to protect business critical spaces and equipment. It is typically used inside machinery like CNC machines, mobile equipment like forklifts and inside server rooms and electrical cabinetry but is suitable for any hazard that’s considered to have an elevated fire risk. Some may question the need or cost-effectiveness of protecting micro-environments. However, examples abound of where fires that have started at component level have gone on to cause damage of the highest magnitude, and the cost of downtime can be crippling to many time-sensitive facilities and processes. An airline was forced to cancel over 2,000 flights in August 2016 when what was described as a “small fire” in one of its data centers ultimately led to a computer outage. The cost of that small fire, and the domino effect that quickly escalated from it, has since been announced as $150m. Admittedly that number is unusually high - the average cost of a data centre outage today is estimated at a more conservative $730,000 – but this is still an expense businesses can ill afford. Preventing Major Losses Staying with the transport industry, newer metros systems have redundant systems in place to prevent interruptions. However, older metro lines, such as the one in New York City, have experienced electrical fires that started small, but grew to such a magnitude that service was affected for months.Older metro lines, such as New York City's, have experience electrical fires that start small but grew exponentially A wind energy customer experienced a fire in a turbine converter cabinet. The loss of the cabinet was valued at over $200,000 and disabled the turbine for six weeks. Following investment in fire suppression systems inside the electrical cabinet, a subsequent fire was detected and suppressed before major damage could be caused. The cost on this occasion was therefore limited to a $25,000 component and downtime was less than two days.Equally - happily - there are also many instances where the installation of small enclosure fire suppression has prevented disaster. In the manufacturing world, CNC machines are valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars and need to be constantly operational to justify the investment. Oil coolant used in the machines can create a flash fire in an instant due to failed components or programming errors. The fact that many of these facilities are run ‘lights out’ with no personnel present further exacerbates the risk. If a fire is not dealt with immediately, the machine will be destroyed; sprinklers don’t react quickly enough for this scenario and would be ineffective. Ensuring Business Continuity One such flash fire occurred inside a protected CNC machine at a machine shop in Iowa. The polymer tubing ruptured within a fraction of a second, releasing the suppression agent and extinguishing the flames. The machine was undamaged and was operational again with a few hours. Contrast this to a previous fire at the same facility in an unprotected machine; it was out of operation for 4 days, costing the business thousands of dollars in downtime In short, fire protection is an essential element of our industrial and commercial environments to ensure both safety and business continuity. However, the nature of that protection is changing, as capacity increases to cost-effectively protect specific areas where fires are most likely to start. Risk mitigation analysis needs to look beyond what has been accepted in the past and find ways to further limit the impact of a small fire using this next level of protection. The benefits can really have a positive effect on the bottom line in the event of fire.
Globe, DuPont Protection Solutions (DuPont), and the National Volunteer Fire Council teamed up once again in 2018 to distribute 52 sets of turnout gear to 13 volunteer or mostly-volunteer fire departments. This annual program began in 2012 to provide departments in need with new turnouts to better protect their personnel. Shinbone Valley Fire and Rescue (Delta, AL) and the Barnsdall (OK) Rural Fire Department are the final 2018 gear recipients. Shinbone Valley Fire and Rescue has 16 volunteer firefighters. All are operating with turnout gear that is over 10 years old, which is not recommended according to national safety standards. The department responds to multiple calls a year, including mutual and automatic aid. Training exercises Calls coupled with monthly training exercises and a yearly visit to the Alabama Fire College has left their expired gear very worn, which puts their members at risk. Volunteers do their best to use their oldest and most worn gear for training exercises to preserve the newer sets for structure fires and vehicle incidents. The department actively fundraises to keep up with operation costs but has found it difficult to purchase new gear to ensure the safety of their responders. This new gear will help our dedicated team to have the protection they need when they are in the trenches" “Receiving this gear gives peace of mind to our firefighters and the people we serve,” said Assistant Chief Travis Strickland. “Thank you to Globe and the NVFC for this donation. Your help goes a long way with our community and our department.” Purchase new gear Barnsdall Rural Fire Department serves over 1,100 residences across 122 square miles. Barnsdall is a rural location with an abundance of ranchland and homes, which make wildfires very prevalent. The department responds to an average of 80 calls each year and provides additional assistance to the city and surrounding fire departments. Only 10 of Barnsdall’s 24 volunteers have turnout gear, and all sets are over 10 years old and not compliant with recommended safety standards. Most of the department’s financial resources are utilized for equipment, leaving them unable to purchase new gear for their responders. “We want to ensure that our team has the best chance to do a good job and stay safe at the same time,” said administrative assistant Brittanie White. “This new gear will help our dedicated team to have the protection they need when they are in the trenches and extend our limited resources beyond what we are currently able to provide.”
Globe, DuPont Protection Solutions (DuPont), and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have been working together since 2012 to provide new, state-of-the-art turnout gear to volunteer fire departments in need through the Globe Gear Giveaway program. In 2018, 52 sets of gear will be awarded to 13 departments to help better protect their responders. Providence (NC) Fire & Rescue and the Strong Volunteer Fire Company (Mount Carmel Township, PA) are the latest gear recipients. Providence Fire & Rescue is located in the northern Piedmont region of NC, approximately 50 miles northwest of Chapel Hill on the NC/VA state line. Provide Mutual Aid The department’s 29 volunteers run an average of 330 calls each year and provide mutual aid to surrounding departments and across state lines The department’s 29 volunteers run an average of 330 calls each year and provide mutual aid to surrounding departments and across state lines. However, almost half of the department’s responders use personal protective equipment (PPE) that is more than 10 years old, which is considered non-compliant according to the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) standards. Budget restrictions have left the department unable to purchase new gear and have also eliminated the department’s allowance for travel, decreasing their members’ opportunity to receive training unless classes are hosted locally. With a per capita income of only $16,470 and 14.4 percent of their small 3,400 population living under the poverty line, local fundraisers have not yielded enough funds to offset budget cuts. Fire-Related Hazard “In addition to training, this gear will enable our members and the members of our auto-aid departments the reassurance that they are using NFPA compliant PPE on any fire or fire-related hazard,” said Chief Kenneth R. Everett. “This will enable us to continue providing the members of our department safe, compliant PPE for years to come.” The Strong Volunteer Fire Company (VFC) is located near three heavily traveled highways and five state routes. The company has 25 volunteers who protect 3,300 residents over 22 square miles. They are first on-scene for all motor-vehicle accidents, structure fires, vehicle fires, wildland fires, and rescues and respond to two large industrial parks, an explosive plant, three mining operations, multiple schools and nursing homes, and dozens of smaller businesses. Firefighting Capabilities These four sets of gear will greatly improve our firefighting capabilities and provide a higher level of firefighter safety" The company is also very active in the community and hosts multiple fire prevention activities and fundraisers throughout the year to strengthen community support. Over half of the department’s responders do not have gear that meet recommended safety standards. Severe budget constraints have forced the department to buy used gear for its volunteers, and many members have purchased their own hoods and gloves. Additionally, the Strong VFC is expecting additional members soon because one neighbouring company is closing and a second may have to close as well due to financial and membership issues. “These four sets of gear will greatly improve our firefighting capabilities and provide a higher level of firefighter safety for our dedicated volunteers,” said Captain Kevin Mains. “We are trying to plan for additional new members and proper gear is a priority.”
Since 2012, Globe by MSA, DuPont Protection Solutions (DuPont), and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have partnered to provide 403 sets of new, state-of-the-art turnout gear to fire departments in need – a value of over $920,000. An additional 13 departments will each receive four sets of gear in 2018. “MSA and Globe's mission is to see to it that men and women live and work in safety and health, and that speaks to the heart of exactly why we're proud to support the NVFC,” said Globe chief operating officer Tom Vetras. “Firefighters deserve nothing less than the very best personal protective equipment. Our Globe Gear Giveaway program – in partnership with DuPont – is just one of the ways we're happy to support the many NVFC initiatives that help improve volunteer firefighters' overall health, wellness, and safety.” Safety gear for the firefighters “Having standards-compliant, well-fitting gear is a critical component to keeping firefighters safe, healthy, and ready to respond,” said NVFC Chair Kevin D. Quinn. “We appreciate the efforts and generosity of Globe, MSA, and DuPont to help departments keep our boots on the ground safe and protected through this invaluable program.” The first two recipients of the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway are the Hindman (KY) Volunteer Fire Department and Cedar Fort (UT) Volunteer Fire Department. In addition to emergency response, the HVFD members provide fire prevention education to roughly 500 children in the community each year Hindman (KY) Volunteer Fire Department The Hindman Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD) protects 2,000 residents in Hindman, KY, located in the eastern part of the state. The department is currently celebrating 50 years of dedicated service to its community. While funding for the department has decreased over the years due to a waning coal industry from which they formerly received support, their call volume has not. Despite budget constraints, the department strives to provide the best possible service. In 2017, the HVFD increased its Insurance Service Office rating from seven to four, which is the best rating it has had since the department’s inception. In addition to emergency response, members provide fire prevention education to roughly 500 children in the community each year. Protecting firefighters with better-quality gear To ensure the safety of its responders, each firefighter is required to complete the KY Fire Commission 150-hour certification. However, only 15 of the HVFD’s 24 volunteers have gear, and only five of those are less than 10 years old, meaning the rest don’t meet recommended safety standards and can’t be used during live fire training in the state. Often gear must be borrowed from one member to another to be able to perform the training, leaving responders on duty without compliant gear. “We are a great fire department with a young and dedicated membership,” said HVFD Chief James Preston Hays. “We have always tried to do the best we could with limited resources. Receiving this gear will be a great benefit to protect our firefighters and further improve as a department.” Receiving new sets of turnouts from the Globe Gear Giveaway program will improve the safety of Cedar Fort responders and allow the department to be more effective Cedar Fort (UT) Volunteer Fire Department The Cedar Fort Volunteer Fire Department is dedicated to serving and protecting the second largest response area in Utah County, which encompasses 214 square miles. 200 of those miles are open area where there are no paved roads and access is difficult; small blazes can quickly become a serious issue. The department is also responsible for Five Mile Pass, which is a popular recreation area designated for off-road and open-use. It is not uncommon to see thousands of people visiting the area on any given day. Cedar Fort firefighters are required to certify at Firefighter I and II and hazmat operations, so they are ready to respond. All 32 of the department’s firefighters have turnout gear; however, the gear was donated by a neighbouring department and all sets are over 10 years old and no longer compliant with national safety standards. With a limited budget, the department has been unable to afford the new gear its responders so desperately need. Receiving new sets of turnouts from the Globe Gear Giveaway program will improve the safety of Cedar Fort responders and allow the department to be more effective when protecting its community and visitors. Additional Globe Gear Giveaway awards will be made monthly throughout 2018.