EUSAS recently organized a successful online European Conference on the topic ‘Artificial intelligence in fire detection and security – without the hype’. It showed once again the importance of technological development for an industry that endeavored to protect lives with particular relevance to the fire and security industry.

The conference opened with a discussion on what Artificial Intelligence (AI) is. The general concepts as well as the history and starting blocks of AI were discussed. Also, the current application fields for AI in Smart Living, as well as important requirements for the realization of intelligent Smart Living services, were presented. Focal point for the fire industry were the presentations during the session on the benefits and opportunities of AI for fire detection and security.

Artificial Intelligence and Fire Safety

In his presentation, Guillermo Rein of the Imperial College London presented an innovative fire protection system that combines building sensors, computer modeling, and artificial intelligence (AI). It is called The Fire Navigator and aims to forecast the movement of a fire inside a large building, providing the fire brigades with essential information about flames and smoke ahead of time. It bridges the gap between fire safety and Building Information Modeling by making use of the data already produced by high-rise building sensors such as smoke and heat sensors.

A fast and simple cellular automata model assimilates sensor data, and via inverse modeling and genetic algorithm techniques, it uncovers the ignition location, time, flame spread rate, and smoke velocity. A test case with synthetic data was shown for a real iconic building in London. The Fire Navigator concept would be specially suited for the protection of higher-risk buildings like high-rise and hospital, or key infrastructures like tunnels and power plants.

Sensor technology

Paul van der Zanden, General Director of Euralarm, elaborated on the connection between AI and the fire industry. He took a holistic approach by defining AI as ‘’Technology used to add value and/or improve the outcome of an existing or new process/system’’. The fire industry has a wide scope and covers many aspects. Within Euralarm fire safety is seen as an ecosystem and therefore fire safety should be part of the development process.

The question is if one can use other future spin-off developments from the AI world for the fire safety world

Assuming that everything is done in the design to prevent a fire from starting there still is a chance that a fire incident will happen. A key factor that defines the impact of this incident is time. Timely detection and sensitivity for unnecessary alarms have a relation with each other. Both factors can be improved by using new technologies including AI technologies.

The question is if one can use other future spin-off developments from the AI world for the fire safety world. The introduction of new sensor technologies available could be one of these spin-offs. With an example from AI sensor technology development, Paul van der Zanden showed how future fire detection can be brought to the next level.

AI-related vulnerabilities

In his presentation, Ibrahim Daoudi of CNPP presented the vulnerabilities related to the use of artificial intelligence on security/safety products. There are mainly 3 categories of vulnerabilities. The first category consists of adversarial attacks where the aim is to generate data sufficiently modified to mislead the model. The second category concerns physical attacks.

It is in fact based on adversarial attacks but applied to real objects. The third category is the traditional attacks on information systems leading to the poisoning of the model itself or its training data. All three the vulnerability categories were discussed and explained.

Temporal Deep Learning

A new way to detect and localize smoke within such sequences was presented, called cell-wise classification

Utilizing temporal information is crucial to detect smoke in video sequences. In his presentation, Andreas Wellhausen of Bosch Sicherheitssysteme GmbH presented the work on temporal approaches based on Deep Learning that are applied to Video Smoke Detection. Two methods were elaborated. Firstly, a combination of convolutional neural networks (CNN) and long-short-term-memory networks (LSTM), secondly the inflated 3D architecture (i3D), which consists of 3D convolutions.

These are two state-of-the-art approaches to extract spatial and temporal information out of video sequences. A new way to detect and localize smoke within such sequences was presented, called cell-wise classification. Furthermore, the advantage of temporal approaches over CNN methods, which are commonly used for detection problems in Computer Vision, was shown.

Training AI on synthetic data

Philip Dietrich of Bosch Sicherheitssysteme analyzed the idea of using synthetic data to train Deep Learning Systems for Video-Based Smoke Detection algorithms. Compared to real data, gathering a large-scale database is significantly easier for synthetic data. It was shown how Deep Learning networks can be trained on synthetic videos. The results were compared with real data.

Experimental results support the hypothesis, that domain adaptation improves the generalization on real data

As a means of bridging the domain gap between real and synthetic data, the concept of domain adaptation will be introduced. By forcing networks to extract similar features from real and synthetic data respectively, potential artifacts in synthetic data may not be learned by the network. Experimental results support the hypothesis, that domain adaptation improves the generalization of real data.

Legislation and outlook

While the rapid adoption of AI creates exciting new opportunities for industry and individuals alike, it also poses an important question: do current laws apply to AI? Tadas Tumėnas of Orgalim discussed if and how this new technology should be regulated. He outlined the state of play of AI in Europe. He focused on the definition of AI which should be the essence of the EU legislative framework and presented the Commission’s work related to AI.

In the last presentation Lance Rütimann, chair of the Fire Section of Euralarm, said that if the fire safety industry does not take on the task of working with legislators, regulators, and standardization bodies in defining the aforementioned regulatory landscape, then someone else will.

This is because the use of Artificial Intelligence to protect lives and assets makes good sense. Understandably, the path ahead is not clear, and there are many, many questions. The fact that the results of the work of the fire safety industry make the world a safer place for millions of people is the best motivation to set the focus on a new horizon.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

How Technology Helps London Fire Brigade With Incident Command
How Technology Helps London Fire Brigade With Incident Command

Drones give Incident Commanders an aerial view, increasing their situational awareness of fires and helping them to develop tactics to tackle them. Station Officer Lee Newman details how the technology was implemented by London Fire Brigade and the continued benefits. Identify external risks The Grenfell Tower fire has resulted in revisions to several operational procedures and the introduction of new equipment within the Brigade. A few months after the fire, the Brigade was tasked with setting up a trial to test the feasibility of having a drone capability to identify external risks and assess building stability at incidents, providing essential safety information that could facilitate ongoing internal firefighting operations. Implement the use of drones The Brigade implemented the use of drones and acquired a Matrice 210 V1 and a Phantom 4 Working with partners who had an existing drone capability, as well as drone experts, the Brigade began work to implement the use of drones and acquired a Matrice 210 V1 and a Phantom 4 as a trainer and reserve drone. In the summer of 2018, an Emergency Services bespoke course was run by Essex Police to train the Brigade’s team of drone pilots, who were all PfCO qualified within one week. From start to finish, it took just nine months to get London Fire Brigade’s drone team operational. Working of the drones On its first day of being available for incidents, the team received an order to attend a 15-pump fire at a leisure center, which was under renovation. They were asked to confirm if there were cylinders on the roof of the building and immediately put the drone to use. The team flew and relayed the camera footage onto a large screen that was fitted into a van provided for the trial. The drone footage was able to identify, to the Incident Commander’s satisfaction, that the cylinders were actually rolls of asphalt due to be laid on the roof as part of the renovation. If the drone concept could have proven its use in one job, this was it. The information from the drone allowed the Incident Commander to decide not to make it ‘cylinders confirmed’ and saved a lot of unnecessary extra appliance movements. Applications of drone Since that first callout, the team has been to around 300 incidents of six pumps or more, including persons in the water, fires, and various missing people’s incidents both in London and into other counties, assisting police forces. From start to finish, it took just nine months to get London Fire Brigade’s drone team operational Drone inventory The Brigade’s drone capability inventory includes a Matrice 300 with an H20T dual thermal and optical camera; a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual with multi attachments; a Mavic Air 2 and a Yuneec 520. The Brigade also has a Teradek live streaming device and multiple tablets for receiving the streamed footage. The Brigade operates with two Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs – plug-in hybrid SUVs – and has split the drone equipment into two, with one vehicle carrying the drone and batteries, and the other carrying all the support kit and ancillaries. Working in dark conditions The drones are permitted to fly up to 400 ft above ground level or higher in an emergency and can fly as fast as 50 mph. They also can act as a loudspeaker to give instructions or reassurance and shine a bright spotlight in dark or low light conditions. 24/7 service The Brigade has eight pilots trained and operates a 24/7 service The Brigade has eight pilots trained and operates a 24/7 service. The team is working closely with its blue light partners, including the: Metropolitan Police Service, several search and rescue teams, and a host of fire services surrounding the capital, as well as giving advice to other upcoming drone teams around the UK. Use of drone in future The Brigade’s drone capability has been molded to how it sees the future and what it holds in the way of drone use. For example, the Brigade has developed a capability to drop water rescue aides to people at water incidents, which helps to keep them afloat long enough to be rescued. The drone can also be used alongside the swift water rescue teams to provide situational awareness of hazards and the resulting risks during the rescue phase. Delivering fire escape tools The Brigade also invested in fire escape hoods in late 2018 and has already demonstrated how one might be delivered via a drone to a balcony above the height of an aerial appliance while using the Mavic Enterprise 2 to relay instructions via the loudspeakers. These possible new uses are pushing the boundaries of the Brigade’s original concept and demonstrate how London Fire Brigade works to stay ahead of the curve. 

Chicago Bans Dogs From Firehouses, Despite Long-Held Tradition
Chicago Bans Dogs From Firehouses, Despite Long-Held Tradition

There is a long tradition of canines in the fire service, from Dalmatians riding shotgun in the fire truck to mixed breeds rescued from fires that later become the fire company mascot. The tradition has taken a hit recently in Chicago, where dogs are no longer allowed at firehouses after one station dog killed a smaller breed canine near a firehouse in the Englewood neighborhood. The incident The firehouse dog in Chicago, named Bones, was a mixed breed stray rescued off the street that was living at Engine 116 at 60th Street and Ashland Avenue. A neighbor was walking her smaller breed dog past the firehouse and watched in horror as Bones attacked and killed her small dog. After the incident, Chicago’s Acting Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt issued a department memo: “Any and all prior permissions for dogs in the fire stations or on fire apparatuses are hereby revoked … effective immediately.” Chicago Firehouse dogs Most of Chicago’s firehouse dogs are strays that were picked up and brought to firefighters by the public. Fire crews and paramedics care for the dogs, train them, feed them and get them inoculated and spayed or neutered, then ask formal permission to keep the dogs on site. Historically, permission has been granted, in effect saving the dogs from being euthanized. Breed of choice The tradition of dogs and the fire service goes back centuries, to the 1700s, when carriage dogs first trotted alongside horse-drawn fire carriages. Dalmatians were the breed of choice, given their good temperament, calming effect on the horses Dalmatians were the breed of choice, given their good temperament, calming effect on the horses, and grace under pressure. The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) began utilizing Dalmatians as early as the 1870s. Dalmatians as firehouse ambassadors When motorized vehicles came on the scene, Dalmatians were already associated with firefighters, who continued to keep them on-site as firehouse residents and mascots. Increasingly, Dalmatians and other dogs became public ambassadors for firehouses and were involved in public education about fire safety and emergency preparedness for school and community groups. For example, Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog, a Dalmatian from Clarksville, Ark., was a character in her own set of children’s books about fire safety and traveled around the country teaching children about fire tips. reduce stress, provide comfort Currently, firehouse dogs are other breeds, too, many rescued from house fires or other tragedies. Firehouses often adopt dogs, who become symbols of resiliency, bravery, fortitude – and provide comfort and companionship for firefighters who face high levels of stress on the job. After the 9/11 attacks, two firefighters from Rochester, N.Y., gifted the FDNY Ladder 20 company a Dalmatian puppy, appropriately named Twenty. The dog served as a source of comfort to the firefighters, who lost seven members of the company in 9/11. Dogs recognize signals Taken in as a stray in 1929, a dog named Nip served 10 years with New York’s Engine Company No. 203. During his service, the dog was injured by broken glass, falling debris, scalding burns, and bruises from falling off the fire engine. Nip could recognize all bells and signals. On fire scenes, Nip could alert firefighters if he knew something was wrong and sometimes run into burning buildings to look for victims. Unfortunately, Nip was killed by a hit-and-run driver in front of the firehouse in 1939 (and was stuffed by a taxidermist and displayed at the firehouse until 1974). Dogs promote fire safety Dogs promote fire safety outside the firehouse Dogs also promote fire safety outside the firehouse. For example, accelerant-sniffing dogs are trained to detect minute traces of accelerants that may be used to start a fire, according to the State Farm Arson Dog Program. The special bond between firefighters and dogs is the stuff of legend, despite the recent unfortunate events in Chicago – an ignoble scar on a long, colorful history of dogs in the fire service. Hopes remain that the decision can somehow be reversed, based on social media postings. “This is the first tragedy I have heard of in … 25 years,” said the administrator of the Firehouse Pups group.

What Impact Has COVID-19 Had On The Fire Industry?
What Impact Has COVID-19 Had On The Fire Industry?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had ramifications for almost every industry, some more than others. With the pandemic stretching well into a second year, the non-medical consequences continue, and many are wondering about which of the required changes might become permanent. As regards the fire sector, we asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What impact has COVID-19 had on the fire industry?

vfd