D-Tec - part of NetVu - announced that its partner in the Middle East region, BSS-ME, has supplied, tested, and commissioned seven advanced IP-based, NetVu Connected, FireVu units to provide a state-of-the-art CCTV-based VSD (Video Smoke Detection) solution for the main tunnel at the famous Palm Jumeirah man-made island in Dubai. The creation of the Palm Jumeirah, which has been dubbed the 'eighth wonder of the world', has dramatically changed the Dubai area, doubling the Emirate’s beach front real estate and playing host to an impressive array of world-class residences, hotels, retail, entertainment and leisure facilities.

Around-the-clock Monitoring

Now monitored around the clock by BSS-ME’s supplied FireVu based solution, which has the ability to deliver a fast track response to potential fire, detecting smoke in a matter of seconds, unlike conventional solutions which struggle in the confines of a tunnel.

The operators of the 1.4km long, 40 metres wide, undersea link can be assured of the fire safety of this vital connection between Palm Jumeirah’s spine and the main crescent part of the island. The box-like Palm Jumeirah tunnel is undoubtedly a major engineering feat – having required 185,000 m3 of concrete and 30,000 tons of reinforcing steel - and has been designed and constructed to hold three individual tubes with the outer two tubes carrying three lanes of traffic and pedestrian walkways in each direction.

The inner tube is used as a service tunnel and also in the event of an incident for emergency evacuation. The FireVu units adopted for the iconic Palm Jumeirah are the latest and most capable incarnation of NetVu's FM-approved VSD technology.

For the Dubai tunnel solution, the FireVu units installed by BSS-ME are connected to 28 fixed CCTV cameras positioned strategically throughout the tunnel’s two outer tubes -14 in each. Crucially, the cameras used for Video Smoke Detection are the same as those for security and other surveillance tasks – such as traffic management – in the tunnel, thus maximising the return on investment.

Detecting Smoke Patterns

Looking in more detail at the VSD utilised by FireVu at Palm Jumeirah, this approach works by using CCTV images, in real time, from a number of cameras simultaneously that are then analysed by specialised image processing software.

VSD seeks out the particular pattern that smoke produces through the application of extensive detection and known false alarm algorithms. By programming the software to look for anticipated motion patterns of smoke over a specified area within the camera image, an analysing pixel changes, VSD has the potential to react to an incident in a matter of seconds.

Alarm and associated video images can be relayed back to a central control room and can be reviewed using NetVu's Enterprise ObserVer video management software to offer a fast response to an event.

Because multiple cameras are being used, there is also the potential to provide all important situational awareness. This means that drivers and their passengers in a tunnel such as at Palm Jumeirah can be directed safely away from danger – this is especially beneficial in tunnels with a gradient whereas smoke rises it will tend to gather more on one side of the fire.

As all alarm events are recorded on the system’s NetVu Connected Digital Video Recorder (DVR) these can be readily accessed for pre-event and post-event analysis, allowing the operator to view what, or who, caused the incident.

Tunnel Fire Safety Requirements

Commented Malcolm Gatenby, Sales Director, BSS-ME: “It has been a real privilege to be involved in this internationally recognised project and to be given the opportunity to demonstrate the capacity of FireVu to meet the Palm Jumeirah’s subsea tunnel's exacting fire safety requirements.

“Working closely with D-Tec throughout the whole tendering, testing and commissioning process, we were able to have the solution up and running well within the agreed timescales, ensuring that the seven FireVu units were successfully integrated with the tunnel's CCTV cameras and control centre.

“The all important commissioning process allowed the fine tuning of the advanced VSD to ensure the set-up took account of lighting and other local conditions. Looking ahead I believe that Video Smoke Detection is ideally suited to the challenges of today's road tunnels, with their small cross-sectional area and higher heat release rate should a fire develop, and hope that success at the Palm Jumeirah will lead to additional project wins in the fast growing Middle East market.”

IP Video Smoke Detection

A key advantage of adopting FireVu for Palm Jumeirah tunnel is that it takes FM-approved VSD to the next level by combining VSD with video over IP (Internet Protocol). This means that in additional to being supplied to a central control room, there is the flexibility for distribution of alarms and associated images to an unlimited number of locations for review.

Also, as FireVu shares a common NetVu Connected technology base with other NetVu systems - such as Dedicated Micros, TransVu and NetVu Enterprise ObserVer video management software, there is the potential to integrate the system with a broad range of facilities management and security systems.

System management is also enhanced with FireVu as faults can be reported via IP, and alarm information sent by SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (Multi Media Service) to mobile telephones, hand-held devices and by email. In addition, reconfiguring a FireVu system – when alterations have been made to the tunnel being protected – can be carried out remotely, removing the cost and delay associated with travelling to site. Testing and diagnosis can also be supported in this way

Said Ian Moore, Managing Director of D-Tec: “It is gratifying to see FireVu, and our Video Smoke Detection technology, being applied to best effect at the visionary Palm Jumeirah in Dubai thanks to the efforts of Malcolm Gatenby and his team at BSS-ME who have been effective advocates for our technology in the region for more than five years.

The Palm Jumeirah adds to D-Tec’s already proven track record in the tunnel environment across the globe with successful projects such as the Sydney Harbour tunnel and road tunnels in Italy, and in a wide range of testing fire scenarios in the Middle East, through our partner BSS-ME, including the massive 600 metre wide Royal Airwing Hangar complex at the Dubai International Airport - the world’s largest privately-owned aircraft hangar.”

Download PDF version

In case you missed it

A New Normal: California Wildfires Deadliest In History
A New Normal: California Wildfires Deadliest In History

The immense scope and scale of this month’s California wildfires are a timely reminder of a “new normal” that includes a catastrophic toll in human tragedy and presents new challenges for fire service professionals. Some have pointed to the increased frequency of wildfires as a consequence of global warming, and the resulting higher temperatures, less humidity and changing wind and rainfall patterns. President Trump has blamed “poor forest management” (an assertion the president of California Professional Firefighters has called “dangerously wrong.”) Other theories include population shifts and the proximity of residences near wildlands. There has been talk of a need for better long-term fire prevention. But whatever the cause, the results are eye-opening. Historically, all but one of California’s biggest-ever wildfires have occurred in the last 10 years Rapid Increase In Wildfires In California California’s Camp Fire has been called the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history. Fast-moving and unpredictable, the fire totally destroyed the town of Paradise. At the same time, the Woolsey Fire continued for 10 days and consumed an estimated 96,949 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Historically, all but one of California’s biggest-ever wildfires have occurred in the last 10 years, whether measured in terms of area impacted, loss of life or damage to property, all suggesting a troubling acceleration. In fact, an increase in wildfires is causing destruction around the world. Firefighters Combating Wildfires Effectively For firefighters, the experience and environment have been compared to working in a war zone, reflected by terms such as “aerial assaults” and “boots on the ground.” Burned-out cars on the side of the road, residents fleeing from their homes and whole areas totally annihilated reflect a level of destruction that is unusual in a peaceful society. Tent cities of displaced residents are reminiscent of war refugees. For the recent California fires, firefighter teams traveled from 17 states to battle the wildfires The California wildfires also bring out the best in humanity. There are tales of neighbor helping neighbor and examples of heroism among residents and firefighters, who also share a feeling of brotherhood and kinship forged in extremely adverse conditions. It’s a job that demands bravery and resilience. For the recent California fires, firefighter teams traveled from 17 states to battle the wildfires, from as far away as Alaska and Georgia. There were around 200 firefighters from Texas, 300 from Oregon, and 144 from Arizona among the extra manpower deployed to fight the fires. Protecting Firefighters From Wildfire Danger Fighting wildfires requires a specific approach and offers new challenges. Water can be difficult to find in an already drought-ridden state. Fires that spring up in wooded areas present difficult terrain for fire-fighting vehicles. Higher heat and smoke levels challenge the best methods of protecting firefighters from injury. As the accelerated pace and larger scale of wildfires continue, the fire service will need to expand its strategies, and fire equipment industry will need to enhance its toolbox to meet tomorrow’s continuing horrific realities. If there is a lesson in this month’s wildfires in California, perhaps it is this: More to come.

In Search Of Best Practices As Grenfell Tower’s Impact Reverberates
In Search Of Best Practices As Grenfell Tower’s Impact Reverberates

From a dozen or more perspectives, the tragic fire at London’s Grenfell Tower was a wakeup call. The shear scope of the tragedy – 72 deaths, 70 injuries in the worst United Kingdom residential fire since World War II – is a stark reminder of the importance of fire prevention, and the catastrophic consequences of its failure. There are additional lessons to be learned from the fire service response to the blaze, which burned for 60 hours and involved 250 London Fire Brigade firefighters and 70 fire engines from stations across London. A stark reminder of the importance of fire prevention, and the catastrophic consequences of its failure In short, the Grenfell fire is the kind of colossal event that shakes aside any complacency that stems from a decades-long trend of decreasing deaths from fire. It takes a tragedy of such monumental proportions to get the full attention of government, regulators, fire professionals, and the general public. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the challenge is to focus that attention in ways that can have a real impact on preventing future tragedies.   Building Regulations And Designs  A torrent of questions and second-guessing have emerged from the Grenfell experience. How should building regulations change, including the use of aluminum composite material panels that contributed to the rapid spread of the fire? What about building designs? Grenfell Tower had one central stairwell and one exit. Are more sprinkler systems needed in residential buildings, and what obstacles must be overcome to make it happen? Related to the response to the fire, how did officials who advised residents to “stay put” for two hours as the fire was spreading contribute to the death toll? How should practices change, given that “stay put” is often the advice to residents in a high-rise building fire likely to be easily contained? Every action taken in response to the fire is being scrutinised. Will useful new best practices emerge? Are more sprinkler systems needed in residential buildings, and what obstacles must be overcome to make it happen? Sufficiency of firefighting equipment is another concern. In the Grenfell fire, how was the firefighting effort impacted when a tall ladder did not arrive for more than 30 minutes? What was the role of low water pressure? Were there problems with radio communication?   The Grenfell Tower Inquiry, ordered by Prime Minister Theresa May on the day after the fire, is examining every detail. The inquiry’s chairman has promised that “no stone will be left unturned.” Meanwhile, it behooves all of us to ponder what lessons we can learn from the tragedy, and to ask how we can apply those lessons to prevent future tragedies.

Virtual Reality Emerging As A Training Tool In The Fire Service
Virtual Reality Emerging As A Training Tool In The Fire Service

The dangers of firefighting make it unfriendly to the concept of the learning curve. Before they put their lives on the line, firefighters should have knowledge and experience. But gaining knowledge and experience in the firefighting environment presents its own dangers. Virtual reality (VR) is an emerging tool for training in the fire service. Recreating the firefighting experience realistically in a virtual world is a useful – and safer – alternative to on-the-job training. It is also less expensive than some other training options, such as recreation of realistic fire rescue scenarios.  “For a situation when someone’s life would be in danger, a virtual reality experience can enable them to practice in the safety of their own environments,” says Michael Schreiner, Senior Director of Content for Target Solutions, which is developing VR training for firefighters. “In real life, the building would be on fire and they would have to make life-or-death decisions. With virtual reality, firefighters can make a mistake about how to attack a fire without putting themselves in danger.”With virtual reality, firefighters can make a mistake about how to attack a fire without putting themselves in danger.” Virtual Reality Firefighter Training Target Solutions, a brand of Vector Solutions, Tampa, Florida, has partnered with Pasco County (Fla.) Fire Rescue to develop a lifelike 360-degree VR “smoke reading” training course. Creating the course involved a 360-degree Virtual Reality video shoot using drone technology to film actual firefighters training in real-life simulations. The video was created with expert help from consultants and field insights from subject matter experts, fire service instructors, and paramedics. Learners using the course wear VR goggles and are immersed in a virtual environment where they will receive instruction on how to read smoke and to decide how to attack a fire based on what the smoke tells them. Reading smoke involves judging the color, volume, density and rate of rise. For example, the seat of a fire tends to produce smoke that is thick and dark and has a high rate of rise; in contrast, smoke elsewhere is a burning building might be light and wispy. Firefighters have to make split-second decisions based on the appearance of smoke, and deciding wrong can have dire consequences. Another benefit of virtual reality in firefighter training is lower costs Making Better Decisions The 12-minute-or-so smoke reading “micro-course” uses a story-based approach to emphasize the emotional elements of decision-making. Schreiner says people learn best when emotions are tied into the learning. Elements of the training scenario include exposition, rising action, a crisis and a resolution. Unrelenting “heartbeat” sounds promote a sense of urgency. The course then evaluates whether a learner made the right decision. The course can be practiced over and over. The idea is for firefighters to develop “muscle memory” to make better decisions under pressure in a real fire rescue situation. Vector Solutions chose shooting a video for a real-world effect over computer-generated graphics, which are more expensive but less realistic. For the video training, smoke graphic effects were added in post-production. Lower Training Costs The idea is for firefighters to develop “muscle memory” to make better decisions under pressure in a real situation Another benefit of virtual reality in firefighter training is lower costs. The training session used to shoot the 360-degree video cost around $20,000, which is typical of similar training exercises. Mobilizing a ladder truck, two fire trucks, a fire rescue truck and commander’s vehicles are all part of the costs, as are the costs (including overtime) of 13 firefighters taking part in the exercise. VR is a relatively new learning tool, and Schreiner says feedback from the market will make it clear how effective it is. “We can immerse a person in a situation and it’s a safe environment, but we have to let our learners tell us how effective it is,” he says. “We will get feedback from learners and training administration. It’s another tool in the toolbox, but it will not totally replace real-life training.” VR Training For Dangerous Professions Schreiner says VR is a huge training opportunity for any type of dangerous profession, whether construction workers operating on scaffolding, or educators in an active shooter situation. “Where safety is a risk, VR will really start taking off,” he says. Almost 6,000 clients across the United States use Target Solutions training products, including courses that are specific to the fire service, such as "Cancer Related Risks of Firefighting."

vfd