Building Fire Safety
Maintaining adequate staffing is a key challenge facing many volunteer fire departments. While not a new issue, increasing population and call volumes along with the expanded services many volunteer departments now provide have made recruiting and retaining volunteers a top priority in the fire service. The federal government supports volunteer recruitment and retention through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, administered by the Federal Emergency Man...
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 com...
Each spring, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) honors a firefighter who has provided a lifetime of service, an outstanding junior firefighter, and an exemplary junior firefighter program. With the addition of a new award, the NVFC will also honor a firefighter who has demonstrated leadership in the area of firefighter health and wellness. All recipients receive a personalized award and national recognition. The nomination period for the NVFC’s four annual awards is now open, with...
As the countdown to Christmas gets well and truly underway with offices and places of work getting into the festive spirit, Siemens Building Technologies is warning UK businesses about the potential consequences of false fire alarms during the busiest period of the year. False alarms from remotely-monitored fire detection and fire alarm systems cost the UK economy an estimated £1 billion in business disruption with 95% of automatically-generated alarms being proved to be false placing Fire...
Johnson Controls announces the release of Metasys 10.0, designed to deliver more unified building management. This latest Metasys release provides facility personnel with smarter building automation, faster responses to critical alarms and new integrations with fire detection, security and lighting systems – all with visibility from a single common interface. Metasys 10.0 introduces a new and improved set of integrations. These include new integrations with C·CURE 9000 access contr...
As wildfire disasters increase across the country, a new study found negligible cost differences between building a typical home and a home constructed using wildfire-resistant materials and design features. "We know from post-fire assessments, accompanied by laboratory experiments, that two factors drive home vulnerability in wildfires: how the home is built in terms of materials used and installation details and the landscaping on the property," said Dr. Steve Quarles, Chief Scientist for Wil...
With many families affected by wildfires unable to spend the Thanksgiving holiday at home, the American Red Cross urges families in Los Angeles and Ventura counties to focus on home fire safety this weekend. Thanksgiving is one of the leading days for home cooking fires. You can help protect yourself and loved ones from home fires—the nation's most frequent disaster—by testing your smoke alarms and practicing your escape plan with free resources from the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. Preventing home fire tragedy The Red Cross responds to over 64,000 disasters every year, the majority of which are home fires"Families can prevent tragedy by reviewing their escape plans, testing their smoke alarms, even talking about home fire preparedness at the Thanksgiving table," said Guillermo Sanchez, Preparedness and Resiliency Manager for the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. The Red Cross responds to over 64,000 disasters every year, the majority of which are home fires. As Red Cross workers continue to provide recovery services to those affected by the Woolsey and Hill wildfires, additional volunteers are standing by throughout the weekend to respond to new disasters. One can help people affected by disasters like wildfires and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief.
CoreLogic, a global property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider, released updated data analysis showing 23,044 homes with a total reconstruction cost value (RCV) of approximately $8.6 billion are at high or extreme risk of wildfire damage within the perimeters of the Camp Fire in Northern California and the Woolsey Fire in Southern California. Due to the increased containment of these two wildfires, CoreLogic has revised the area of analysis from ZIP code regions to the actual wildfire perimeters. This provides a more precise evaluation of the risk associated with these wildfires. The tables below break down the risk and corresponding RCV for structures affected by each wildfire and its associated perimeter. Quantifying the risks from wildfires RCVs represent the cost to completely rebuild a property in the worst-case scenario of total destruction of the structure, including labour and materials by geographic location. While other hazards may cause partial destruction but rarely eliminate an entire property, wildfire events are more likely to cause total loss to structures affected. The tables calculate the number of homes at high or extreme risk from wildfire damage within the perimeterThe tables calculate the number of homes at high or extreme risk from wildfire damage within the perimeter and quantify the risk of homes just outside of the perimeter for both the Camp and Woolsey Fires. However, due to the unpredictable nature of wildfires, it is important to note that even within the perimeter, not all homes will suffer damage; of those that do suffer damage, the damage will not all be equivalent. Following the containment of the wildfires, CoreLogic will assess the damage and provide a post-catastrophe loss estimate for these areas. CoreLogic Wildfire Risk Score The CoreLogic Wildfire Risk Score is a deterministic wildfire model which is as comprehensive as it is granular. It covers 15 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. It evaluates the risk of a property to wildfire by returning an easy-to-understand, normalized 5 to 100 score, giving insight into the potential risk of a wildfire. It considers slope, aspect, vegetation/fuel, and surface composition as well as proximity to higher risk areas that could affect the property via windblown embers. These factors are all weighted differently and combine to form the score.
The global market for Passive Fire Protection (PFP) Materials is estimated to reach US$ 30.2 billion by 2025. Growth in the market will be driven by the growing number of fire accidents, stringent fire safety regulations, and technological advances and product innovations. The growing number of fire accidents worldwide in recent years has led to the implementation of increasingly stringent regulations related to fire safety across the globe. In this background, demand for fire management products such as passive fire protection (PFP) materials has grown rapidly over the last few years. Passive Fire Protection (PFP) Material PFP materials prevent the structure of a building from collapsing by containing the spread of fire and are increasingly becoming an indispensable part of the building disaster management system. Use of PFP materials in buildings and complex structures enhances the structural stability and offers additional protection to load bearing beams and columns which prolongs their crumbling in the event of a fire breakout. Apart from construction, other key end-use markets for PFP materials are oil & gas, and electronics. Sprays, boards, and thin film intumescent coatings are the most commonly used PFP materials to protect steel structures from fire Sprays, boards, and thin film intumescent coatings are the most commonly used PFP materials to protect steel structures from fire. Intumescent thin-film coatings are one of the fastest growing market segments and are being widely used as substitute for boards and sprays. Water-based intumescent coatings are the most commonly used coatings for fireproofing steel. Global PFP Market The above findings are part of a comprehensive analysis of the global passive fire protection materials market published by Melvin Bright, which provides insights into key market segments such as coatings, bulkheads, cladding and panels, fire protection doors, sealants, fittings, sprays, boards, cables, ductworks, glazing systems, fire walls, and ceilings and partitions, among others. It also covers end-use markets such as construction, oil and gas, electronics, defense, automotive and transportation, chemical, energy and power, healthcare, waste management, and hospitality, among others. The study provides granular market information on the above market segments for all the major regional and country markets.
Comelit UK is offering a free five-year guarantee from the date of manufacture as standard, across its complete new range of fire detection solutions. The Italian security systems manufacturer, known for its high specification solutions, presents an innovative range of automatic fire detection systems, including conventional and addressable panels, that have proven successful across Europe. Already pledging its commitment to the sector by becoming a member of the FIA, and ensuring its complete fire detection range comply with latest standards, Comelit’s new five year guarantee provides further assurance and customer peace of mind. Reliable fire detection systems The new five-year guarantee endorses our commitment to our customers in providing reliable, quality fire detection systems"Says Colin Smith, Comelit UK Fire Manager: “The launch of our fire detection range was a huge responsibility to meet market demand, and one we continue to take it very seriously. Our products aim to save lives and protect property from the risk of fire. “The new five-year guarantee, standing alongside our membership of the FIA and accreditation to the highest standards across all our range, endorses our commitment to our customers in providing reliable, quality fire detection systems. And this is all without compromising on the element of style for which Comelit is globally renowned.” Smoke, heat and multi-sensor detectors Comelit’s fire detection range presents solutions to accommodate all building types and facility requirements, with the option to design bespoke systems where necessary. Both the ATENA and ERACLE solutions feature, smoke, heat and multi-sensor detectors as well as IP rated devices including sounders and callpoints. Also available is Comelit’s ATEX solutions that can be used in reference to zones where there is risk of explosion due to the nature of atmosphere and the elements it may contain. And each system comes with accessories to complete installations.
Leading lights in fire safety have been appointed by the International Fire Safety Standards Coalition [IFSS] to help improve building safety worldwide. A core group of twenty-two leading fire safety experts was appointed to the coalition’s standards setting committee that will work to develop landmark industry standards for fire safety in buildings. Overcoming Risk To Public Safety Past-president of the Association for Project Safety (APS) Bobby Chakravarthy – who is a founder member and represents the association on the IFSS – said that in an increasingly globalized construction market there needed to consistent principles, so fire safety could be tackled internationally. The standards aim to overcome the risk to public safety that can arise when there is confusion and uncertainty arising from different rules for materials testing and certification, building regulations or codes and standards on how buildings are managed. Chakravarthy said the standards being developed at an international level would provide guidance so professionals could improve safety locally. Improving Building Fire Safety Standards I believe that the experts who have joined the coalition will play a vital part in making buildings everywhere safer for everyone"Past-President Bobby Chakravarthy said: “The standard of fire safety needs to be improved at home and overseas. This is why the Association for Project Safety [APS] is part of the International Fire Safety Standards Coalition [IFSS] and why we are working with our partner organizations across the world to develop consistent standards which will take the guess work out of fire safety in construction. “The Grenfell Tower disaster was a wake-up call in the UK but far too many people are still killed in building fires worldwide. I believe that the experts who have joined the coalition will play a vital part in making buildings everywhere safer for everyone.” Best Practise For Fire Safety The International Fire Safety Standards Coalition consists of local and international professional bodies and standard-setting organizations committed to developing and supporting, in the public interest, a shared set of standards for fire safety in buildings. The standards aim to set and reinforce the best practice for professionals to ensure building safety in the event of a fire.
Checkmate Fire Solutions, one of the UK’s biggest passive fire protection specialist, is continuing its expansion with the opening of a new office in Swindon. The Yorkshire-headquartered business already has regional offices in Birmingham and Essex, but rising demand for its compliance and third-party accredited installation services means it now needs an additional location. The new office at Swindon’s Windmill Hill Business Park will be managed by Mark Cawthra, who will oversee the delivery of services to customers across South-West England and South Wales. Passive fire protection and door installations Checkmate can play a key role by delivering Passive Fire Protection, Fire Door, Intumescent Paint and Fire-Resistant Glazing installations"Mark said: “I’m excited to be joining a forward-thinking organization like Checkmate, which has a long-running commitment to improving safety for the public and businesses. Fires are still a worryingly common event - official statistics show that there are more than 15,800 fires a year in non-residential buildings in England - so there is a lot of work to do to improve the integrity and resilience of properties. “Checkmate can play a key role in doing that by continuing to deliver high-quality Passive Fire Protection, Fire Door, Intumescent Paint and Fire-Resistant Glazing installations and associated compliance services. “I’m now looking forward to working with facilities management contractors, NHS trusts, universities, housing associations and commercial property owners across the South-West to help them protect workers, residents, businesses and public services from the potentially devastating effect of fires.” Improving building safety Checkmate's services include passive fire specification consultancy, fire door inspections and fire compliance surveysCheckmate was established in Yorkshire as a supplier and installer of fire stopping in 1989 and has since grown into the UK’s largest passive fire protection specialist. From its headquarters in Elland and offices in Birmingham, Harlow and Swindon, Checkmate Fire operates two divisions - compliance and solutions. The compliance division helps businesses and public sector organizations to improve the safety of their buildings and meet their legal requirements related to RRO and all other relevant regulations. Its services include passive fire specification consultancy, fire door inspections and fire compliance surveys, complete with associated certification and recertification services. Checkmate’s solutions division specialises in third-party accredited installation of fire stopping, fire doors and fire-resistant glazing in new builds, extensions, refurbishments and sites requiring remedial work. Its fully-trained teams have experience of undertaking complex projects in tall buildings (both residential and commercial), hospitals, universities and schools, industrial and office buildings.
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.
The era of “smart buildings” is here, bringing new opportunities for significant gains in efficiency, safety and environmental protection. In an interview, Rodger Reiswig, director of industry relations at Johnson Controls Global Fire Protection Products, offers his insights into the impact of smart buildings on fire detection and what it means for organisations planning new facilities. Q: How do you define smart buildings? The term “smart buildings” means different things to different people. For some, it’s all about the Green Initiative. Is the building able to sustain itself or reduce its carbon footprint? Can they reuse some of their water or generate electricity from onsite solar cells or wind turbines? Another definition of “smart buildings” is based on sensors. Is the building smart enough to know that, if I’m the first person there in the morning and I swipe my card, it should switch the HVAC system into occupied mode? Can it start to turn the lights on? Can it adjust the window shades to allow the sun to come in? Can it call the elevator down for me because it knows that I’m in the lobby and I’m going to the tenth floor? It’s all about how the systems integrate with one another, not just providing information to each other, but also interacting with one another, causing things to happen from one system to another. Q: How close are we to the vision of an integrated intelligent building where all the systems work together? We’ve already been doing some integration for a few years now with things like HVAC and lighting. Now we’re seeing tighter integration where, for example, we can use the position of the sun to get the best impact of sunlight to start to heat the building in the winter. One of the biggest challenges that we see in the smart building environment is protocols or topologies for how one system talks to another. The fire alarm system uses a certain protocol or language. The HVAC system uses another protocol or language, and so on. Creating an environment where systems can talk to one another and not just send, but also receive information – that’s the difficult part. Everybody can send information out. It’s easy for me to tell you what is happening in a system. But for you to tell me what’s happening in your system and then expect me to do something with that information, that’s when it gets a little bit harder. Q: What makes system-to-system communication challenging? Because of the critical role they play in protecting lives and property, life safety systems require a level of reliability and resilience far beyond that of other building systems or networks. Therefore, we have to be extremely careful about how we allow information from other systems to come into the life safety system, in case that information should affect the performance of the system. In addition, the design and specification of life safety systems is guided via three different means: building codes, standards and listings. Each of those means is controlled by different organisations. Any proposed changes to life safety networks have to pass muster with those entities, and that takes time, effort and consensus-building. When we’re talking specifically about system-to-system communication, the listing entities, organisations like UL and FM Global, regulate how much information can come into any life safety system. The listing documents require that there be some type of a barrier or gateway to prevent unauthorised or corrupted information from coming into a fire alarm system, causing harm or causing it to lock up. Life safety systems require a level of reliability and resilience far beyond that of other building systems or networks We will see all building technologies become more integrated over time as we work through the different entities and people begin to realise the benefits of improved safety, lower environmental impact, and reduced costs. Q: How will fire detection systems benefit from other sensor information available in a building? One of the things being explored is occupancy sensors that tell where people are located in a building. Some type of telemetry could be used to understand where people are concentrated in a facility and, based on that, make the fire alarm system more or less sensitive to smoke. If a lot of people are congregating in one area, there might be more activity and more dust being stirred up. You could use that information to set different alarm parameters compared to, for example, an empty building with no significant air movement. We see that type of operation happening. Knowing how many people are in a building and where they are located is also a critically valuable piece of information for first responders. Here’s another example: let’s say we have a big parking garage next to a mall. Cars come in, and perhaps some people leave their cars running, or the cars aren’t operating as efficiently as they should be. You could have carbon monoxide detectors and occupancy sensors in the garage, and when the garage becomes crowded and carbon monoxide levels start to rise a bit, you could tell the fire alarm system not to go into alarm, but instead to turn fans on to get some fresh air moving throughout the building. It’s performing a life safety function, but at a non-emergency level. Q: Are you involved in any cross-industry standard-setting organisations to enable better communication among building systems? On an industry level, Johnson Controls is very active in the development of codes and standards. We have people who sit on committees for things like healthcare occupancy standards. We have engineers that contribute to product listing documents. We have people who participate in committees that determine how products should be installed and maintained.Fire alarm systems could be used to detect and solve non-emergencies before they become threats We’re even involved with groups, like the National Disabilities Rights Network, that advocate for laws that promote equal access and notification of life safety events. The list goes on. It’s a common protocol that allows all types of systems to get on the same communication platform and be able to send and possibly receive information, depending on the product and the type of system it is.Just to give you an example, there’s a standard called BACnet, Building Automation Control Network, which was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. BACnet is based on entities, so within their system, they need to define what each entity is. What is a thermostat? What is a variable air box? What is a lighting controller? What is a fire alarm smoke detector? We work closely with this organisation to create entities that can reside on their infrastructure so that, for example, the lightning system recognises what a smoke detector is when they send that entity out to the network. It’s one of the most important methods we are using to communicate among dissimilar systems. Integrated systems mean elevators could be used to evacuate people in an emergency We’re working on two fronts: internally and industry-wide. We’re developing third-party interfaces that enable an outside entity to sign a non-disclosure form and get the keys to the kingdom, if you will, on our protocols for how our systems operate – the data stream that we can send out and receive back – allowing that third-party developer to create some of these interfaces themselves. That has been one of our challenges, because we have always said that this is a fire alarm system, and if you want that type of an interface, we need to write it and get it listed. We had to step back and say, what if we developed a barrier gateway and allowed somebody else to develop the protocol and, done properly, became able to receive and send information to the fire alarm system? It’s like what Apple does with apps. We are going down that road with this third-party interface gateway. Q: Have these developments changed how you’re planning for the future development of fire detection systems? Yes, they have. We are looking at how we can use these systems strategically to make life safety systems better. And life safety is becoming more nuanced, proactive and comprehensive. Can I communicate and use this information to unlock the door so people have a clear egress? Can I start to use the elevators to evacuate people during an emergency? We’ve been told traditionally to use the stairwell and not the elevator in the event of a fire. But it takes a person about a minute a floor to get out. That’s a problem if you’re in an 80-story building. You have elevators sitting there. Is there something we could do to allow these elevators to be used to evacuate people? The American Society of Mechanical Engineers has been working hard on developing the language and requirements to do that. It’s just one example of how having systems integrated and talking to each other allows us to create smarter solutions that can help make facilities safer. Q: What advice would you give to building owners, architects, designers or contractors to help them start planning today for the future of smart buildings? The most important thing is to build awareness. The average building owner doesn’t know that a lot of this technology even exists. We need to inform them that there are options they can ask about. One of my recommendations would be to ask your design engineer. As you discuss the kind of windows you want, the kind of flooring and lighting and so on, ask how these systems could integrate together and what the benefits of integration would be. The bigger your facility, the greater the benefits of integrating these systems. Another resource that people don’t use often enough is the AHJs, the authorities having jurisdiction. That’s the local fire marshal, the fire chief, the local first responders. Don’t be afraid to sit down with a fire marshal, tell them what kind of building you’re putting in, and ask them what would help them respond in the event of an emergency in that building. They’ll be glad you asked, because these people see a lot of different buildings and respond to emergencies every day.
A number of shocking incidents involving fire have highlighted the need to better manage risks in buildings. David Adkins, managing director at Risk Warden, explains why some organisations need to give compliance with statutory regulations more focus and how the use of state-of-the-art online risk assessment tools can help to ensure that a building is as safe as possible. The Grenfell Tower disaster in London, in which 72 people lost their lives, brought the subject of fire safety into sharp focus. A government review into building regulations in the wake of this tragedy, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, made it clear that competence – defined as a combination of knowledge, skills and experience – underpins safety for all. It also found that that the current regulatory system is not fit for purpose and, with little or no quality monitoring, has created a situation where poor language confuses guidance with regulation and means that there is an overlapping regulatory enforcement framework. Why you need a fire safety action plan Sadly, Grenfell was not an isolated incident and similar events have occurred throughout the world. In 2017 a fire at a 17-storey commercial building in Iran led to multiple deaths, including those of 18 firefighters, while in 2015 16 people died in a fire in a residential building in Azerbaijan. Perhaps what is most concerning is that these types of events have been regularly occurring for many years – in 2010 a fire in a 28-storey tower block in China killed 53 people and injured at least 90, while in 2004 a fire at a care home in Scotland led directly to the deaths of 14 residents. The inquiry concluded that this tragedy could have been prevented by a suitable fire safety action plan. These examples highlight why it is vital to take the issue of safety seriously by undertaking a formal risk assessment. Put simply, if risks aren’t identified, a building’s occupants are in danger. There are a number of important pieces of legislation relating to this area in the UK including The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which contain a consistent set of requirements. Employers also have a general duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work. The Grenfell Tower disaster in London, in which 72 people lost their lives, brought the subject of fire safety into focus Responsibility for fire risk assessment When it comes to the dangers associated specifically with fire, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO) places the onus on a designated responsible person within an organisation to carry out regular assessments to identify, manage and reduce the potential danger posed by fire. Article 9 of the RRFSO states that "The responsible person must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions he/she needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on him/her by or under this order". Any failure that leads to loss of life, personal injury or damage to property will expose a responsible person and could lead to prosecution. Outside fire risk assessors If the responsible person does not have the knowledge to carry out a fire risk assessment on his or her own, it will be necessary to call on a competent outside fire risk assessor. However, as Article 18 of the RRFSO points out, "Preference is to be given to a suitable competent person in the responsible person’s employment over a person not in their employment". Just as importantly, it states that, "A person is to be regarded as competent where they have sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable them properly to assist in undertaking the preventive and protective measures". If an outside fire risk assessor is employed then the responsible person must undertake due diligence to ensure that the individual concerned is competent and has successful track record in this line of work. Failure to do so can have enormous repercussions like, for example, in 2017 when a former firefighter and professional fire risk assessor was given a sentence of four months in prison suspended for 12 months for providing a ‘woefully inadequate’ fire risk assessment in his capacity as a private consultant. Failure to undertake due diligence when employing a fire risk assessor can have legal consequences Monitoring and reviewing fire risk It is up to the responsible person to put processes and procedures in place to enable compliance to be fully evidenced. This includes keeping up to date records of testing and maintenance regimes that can be scrutinised by relevant enforcement authorities, as well as enabling the responsible person to monitor, control and periodically review the fire risk assessment, especially during and after significant changes to the use or layout of a building. At the moment there are no hard and fast rules as to how fire risk assessments should be carried out. However, the most important requirement is to identify the fire hazards and how people could be at risk. In addition, emergency routes and exits, fire detection and warning systems, fire fighting equipment, the removal or safe storage of dangerous substances, and the needs of vulnerable people such as the elderly or those with disabilities must be factored in. The aim should always be to remove or reduce the risks as much as is 'reasonably practicable'. A failure to provide satisfactory evidence that a comprehensive risk assessment has taken place could result in invalid insurance, large fines and even the prosecution of any individuals responsible. To that end Article 11 of the RRFSO states that "The responsible person must make and give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate, having regard to the size of his/her undertaking and the nature of its activities, for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures". Today’s state-of-the-art solutions are structured around an intuitive internet-based interface Risk assessment and compliance tools Sometimes, particularly with large buildings or campus environments, the complexity of the risk assessment process requires a more methodical approach that takes subjectivity out of the process. When it comes to satisfying the requirements of Article 11 of the RRFSO where "the responsible person must record the arrangements", the latest generation of intuitive risk assessment and compliance tools can help. Today’s state-of-the-art solutions are structured around an intuitive internet-based interface, which allows a responsible person to be guided through the entire risk assessment process in a clear and thorough manner. This is a significant improvement on the old fashioned ‘pen and paper’ approach, as digital images can be captured and placed directly into a report at the relevant section, while templates for specific building types ensure consistency throughout. This simplifies the identification, management and prevention of any risks related to not only fire, but security, and health and safety too, thereby reducing the potential for danger within a wide variety of environments. It should always be remembered that the risk assessment is only the first stage of the process and where traditional methods often fall down is in taking – or not taking, as the case may be – any necessary remedial action. Online tools provide a more cohesive approach, as once the risk assessment has been completed all work undertaken is clearly outlined, logged and accounted for to comply with audits. This provides evidence of compliance and ensures organisations meet their legal obligations, validate their insurance, take a consistent approach to risk management and provide peace of mind for a responsible person. Making buildings safer There is a clear need for a digital record of risk assessment compliance for the whole life of a building – from design and construction through to occupation. As assessing risk can be a lengthy and complicated process, anything that makes this easier and enhances an organisation’s ability to negate the likelihood of injury or even death should be embraced. It stands to reason that risk management must be more strictly applied in order to prevent incidents that could be avoided – therefore, the use of online risk assessment and compliance tools should be at the forefront when it comes to making buildings safer.
Ramtech Electronics, supplier of the UK’s wireless fire alarm systems, is flying high at the £1bn Manchester Airport Transformation Project following deployment of its WES3 and WES REACT platforms. As one of the largest construction programmes in the North of England, the transformation will more than double the capacity of the airport when it is completed in 2020. The complex project comprises the expansion of the Terminal 2 building, to become the airport’s primary terminal along with The Link, a new bridging space as well as new stands and piers, offering better departure gate facilities. Minimizing False Alarms WES3 is a completely wireless, EN54-compliant fire alarm system designed specifically for complex construction projects Laing O’Rourke, the main contractor of the project has specified a combination of WES3 and WES REACT to protect the 1,500 construction personnel that will be on site at its peak. These two innovative systems combine to provide construction teams with a simple and secure means of communicating fire, medical and similar site emergencies. WES3 is a completely wireless, EN54-compliant fire alarm system designed specifically for complex construction projects such as this. Features include a medical alert, allowing an alarm to be raised in the event of a medical emergency from any call point without having to cause a complete site evacuation. Also, an Inspection Delay feature, which enables site personnel to verify that the alarm is genuine before deciding whether to evacuate site, therefore minimizing false alarms. Wireless Mesh Networks When used in conjunction with the WES REACT cloud-based mobile app, WES3 becomes a total fire alarm solution. All WES3 manual call points in their respective zones are interlinked, creating four individual wireless mesh networks, that can be activated simply by activating any call point on site. Once internal fitout begins, WES3 heat and smoke detectors will be added to the system, to provide automatic protection on site 24 hours a day. WES3 utilizes the best quality Category 1, Euro-harmonised radio in compliance with European standards covering the use of radio technology in emergency equipment (ETSI 300-220-1), meaning it won’t interfere with other radio-based systems used on or near the airport. All Point Network The challenges at Manchester Airport Transformation Project were centered on the need for a wireless fire alarm system that was scalable to a project of this size, whilst being fast and easy to reposition the call points. To put this into context, it is the fastest growing construction project in the UK with £1m of new infrastructure added each day. The system also overcame the challenge of scale by incorporating link units into the call point network to boost the wireless signal over larger distances Being a wireless system means that WES3 call points can easily be added and removed as the build progresses, and there’s no wiring, so no need for specialist installation. The system also overcame the challenge of scale by incorporating link units into the call point network to boost the wireless signal over larger distances. The WES3 system was split into four zones covering four concurrent developments within the overall project. Cloud-Based Monitoring All units in their respective zones are interlinked, creating a completely secure wireless mesh network. Andrew Swindells, Laing O’Rourke Programme Health & Safety Lead, explained: “Manchester Airport Transformation Project is a large and complex development and at its peak there will be over a thousand workers on site. We specified WES3 because it is a wireless system, making it very easy to set up and reposition as well as being fully compliant with EN54. WES REACT also provides us with a highly effective cloud-based monitoring platform.” WES3 has a three-year battery life under normal usage, reducing maintenance costs and waste on site. Once the development at Manchester Airport is completed Laing O’Rourke can simply transfer the units to another project as and when required.
One of London’s most prestigious hotels, The Berkeley in Knightsbridge, London, is now protected by a Lux Intelligent emergency lighting test system and MxPro fire panels from Advanced. With a history dating back to the 1800s, the current 214-bedroom Berkeley Hotel was built in 1972, incorporating elements of the original building, and it has recently been subject to a major refurbishment covering all bedrooms, suites, terraces, the lobby, the restaurant, the iconic Blue Bar and the main entrance. Lewis Bowden, spokesperson for Surrey-based Alarm Communication Ltd, the company that specified and installed the system, explained: “Hotels require state of the art emergency lighting systems to safeguard their staff and residents in an emergency situation, helping to facilitate an orderly evacuation and also to guide firefighters coming into the building. As a long-time Advanced partner, we believed that Lux Intelligent, alongside Advanced MxPro fire panels, was the right choice for The Berkeley, offering the stand-out capabilities, features and reliability required of a system of this type.” Luminaires monitored by Lux Intelligent panel Advanced luminaires are monitored and controlled by a Lux Intelligent panel, connected to the building’s fire system More than 200 Advanced luminaires have been installed in the historic hotel, on Wilton Place, which is part of the same stable as Claridge’s. They are monitored and controlled by a Lux Intelligent panel, connected to the building’s fire system. Most of the luminaires are from the Advanced LED-Lite range, which can be recessed into ceilings, offering an aesthetically pleasing solution in the public areas of the prestigious building. Etienne Ricoux, Head of Sales for Advanced, said: “Our Lux Intelligent system offers many benefits including real peace of mind, the ability to work with almost any light, and cost and admin savings. Alongside the MxPro multiprotocol fire panels, we’re proud to be providing market protection to the staff and residents at the Berkley.” Compatible with third-party lights Lux Intelligent ensures all emergency lighting is functioning and compliant to BS5266-1. The system can be retrofitted onto existing wiring and luminaires, keeping installation costs to a minimum. It is one of the most flexible systems available with panels supporting 1-4 loops, 249 devices per loop and up to 200 panels in a network. Lux Intelligent is also compatible with most third-party lights and luminaires, including LEDs, giving installers and end users unprecedented purchasing freedom. Lux Intelligent systems can be remotely managed and monitored using web and iOS apps via the Lux Intelligent Cloud Lux Intelligent systems can be remotely managed and monitored using web and iOS apps via the Lux Intelligent Cloud. Users can add any site in their portfolio to the cloud service and get live system data from site, right down to device level. Fault, test and maintenance reports can be generated from a whole site right down to individual devices. These can be shared with colleagues or maintenance partners in a click. Optimum multiprotocol fire panel The MxPro is the industry’s unbeatable multiprotocol fire panel. Built on almost two-decades of market leadership, it offers greater freedom to specifiers, end users and installers, and includes two panel ranges, the flagship EN54-2, 4 & 13 approved MxPro 5, and the benchmark MxPro 4. Both come in 1-8 loop formats, are compatible with Apollo, Argus, Hochiki and Nittan protocols and can be networked into 200-panel strong systems.
The Yamaha motorcycle factory in Chennai, India, is protecting its employees with a low maintenance, high performance fire alarm system, provided by Hochiki Europe. With a population of 6,000 workers in eight large buildings spread across a vast 147,450m2 site, Yamaha’s building designers faced a challenge when developing a centralised fire safety and emergency lighting network. The distance between the buildings and the number of devices needed made it impossible to use a single control panel for the entire plant. At the same time, installing a separate control panel in each structure would be expensive and make it more difficult to look after long term. The company had no doubt that a system from Hochiki Europe was the ideal solution. Remote Monitoring And Centralized Control “With such a large site and so many workers, we needed a life safety solution that could be easily monitored from a remote location to help us pinpoint and correct potential performance issues as quickly and efficiently as possible,” explained a spokesperson, at Yamaha Chennai. “The final system had to help us centralise control, while also minimising disruption due to false alarms.” Technical experts from Hochiki Europe worked closely with life safety installers, Bell Automation, and Yamaha’s designers to develop an effective solution that could be easily integrated into their computer aided design (CAD) models. Hochiki Europe recommended dividing the site’s buildings into four separate groups, each connected to a centralised control panel – provided by the manufacturer. This would overcome the challenge presented by the site’s complexity, while simplifying maintenance and monitoring procedures. Minimizing False Alarm Risk Photoelectric Smoke Sensors from Hochiki Europe were selected for use in all buildings across the site. Offering high-precision chamber technology, rather than standard ionisation sensors, the solution has a greater particle sensor threshold than traditional products, minimising the risk of false alarms. Hochiki Europe’s Intrinsically Safe Photoelectric Smoke Detectors were selected for the site’s paint store area. These detectors have been specially designed to operate on a reduced current and have been third-party approved for use in hazardous areas. They are installed in conjunction with a barrier, which reduces the energy entering the hazardous zone and their components are encapsulated in a non-conductive material, negating the chance of sparking and igniting a flammable atmosphere. Water-Proof Heat Detectors In the canteen kitchen, Hochiki Europe recommended the installation of its Water-Proof Heat Detectors. Featuring a variable Fixed Temperature heat element, these sensors are able to overcome the issue of excessive smoke from cooking food. Their water-proof casing means that they are able to withstand the humidity of the kitchen, increasing durability and cutting maintenance needs. Weather-Proof Sounders and Weather-Proof Manual Call Points were chosen for external assembly areas. The safety products installed in each building were linked to the relevant network each controlled by one of four centralised control panels provided by Hochiki Europe, meeting the requirement for streamlined monitoring. Alok Chaturvedi, Director of Bell Automation, added: “Thanks to Hochiki Europe’s innovative open Enhanced Systems Protocol (ESP), all of the equipment was compatible with thenetwork loop modelled by Yamaha’s designers. This really simplified the installation process and enabled us to complete the work in just four months, well within the company’s strict deadline.” Compatibility With Wider Safety Network Rohit Harjani, country manager for India at Hochiki Europe, concluded: “The Yamaha Chennai site is complex. It has many buildings, each housing hundreds of workers every day. With this in mind, it is vital that the final life safety system was both reliable and effective with minimal maintenance needs to reduce disruption to the business of the plant. “The technologies recommended offered the high performance required combined with compatibility to a wider safety network. These streamlined maintenance and monitoring needs for the company, saving it time and money, while enabling workers to do their jobs in a safe environment.”
For many students, the prospect of moving away from home and living alone for the first time can be daunting. Thanks to leading manufacturer of life safety solutions, Hochiki Europe, and NSC Sicherheitstechnik, students living at two sophisticated accommodation developments in Germany have one less thing to worry about when it comes to fire safety. The new developments are eight storeys high and capable of accommodating 239 residents at each location. Both named The Flag, they provide a flexible, smart city living space for students in Frankfurt and Munich, and feature premium fire detection and alarm equipment supplied by Hochiki Europe. Complying With European Standards One challenge that arose when specifying the life safety solutions for The Flag was the complexity of the sites. The nature of the buildings called for compliance with European EN standards including EN 54 Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems. It was also imperative that products selected offered optimum reliability to safeguard the wellbeing of occupants and limit the risk of false alarms. As well as being reliable, the products had to help keep running costs down across the sites, without compromising quality. Using products that offer enhanced energy efficiency credentials was therefore essential. Hochiki Fire Detection Solution To address these challenges, Hochiki Europe’s German-based systems partner, NSC Sicherheitstechnik, worked with building owners to identify and provide a range of life safety solutions for the two sites. This included a Solution F1 18 loop fire alarm system with 800 multi sensor detectors, which incorporate both smoke and thermal elements, and 925 base sounders. Multi sensors offer a number of benefits when it comes to reducing the risk of false alarms in residential environments, thanks to in-built intelligence. The sensors can be programmed in a way that ensures alarm conditions are reached only when smoke and heat are present at specific levels to minimise false alarms, and prevent unnecessary evacuations of residents. Additional Life Safety Solution Features The base sounders selected for use likewise feature in-built intelligence, and have an auto shutdown feature to reduce the risk of noise pollution, a common issue in large housing developments such as The Flag. In addition, the base sounders offer a low current consumption to help increase energy efficiency. Both the multi sensors and base sounders are also compatible with Hochiki Europe’s Enhanced Systems Protocol (ESP), a range which offers high performance with enhanced reliability. This ensured compliance with strict fire safety standards as required by the developers. Frank Schade, Sales Manager at NSC Sicherheitstechnik, added: “By using these intelligent life safety solutions from Hochiki Europe, we have been given peace of mind that our premises are fully protected and compliant with international legislation.” Both of The Flag developments were completed in 2017.
Hochiki Europe, leading manufacturer of life safety solutions, has recently worked with Scottish Security and Fire Systems to ensure the safety and security of a renovated Baptist church in Fife. The building which now houses Glenrothes Baptist Church was first constructed in the early 1960s and used as local authority offices. Following its recent conversion into a place of religious worship and, as such, a place of medium assembly under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the Order), the clergy house updated its fire safety and emergency lighting equipment. Appointed to carry out the works was specifier Scottish Security and Fire Systems, a provider of professional installation and maintenance services across Scotland. Meeting Aesthetic Requirements And Safety Standards The Fife project required an ultra-reliable and easy-to-maintain system that would not detract from the aesthetics of the building itself, nor distract its occupants with large, imposing features. Furthermore, the three-storey structure needed a networked system that performed in-line with recent changes in fire safety legislation. For example, the newly revised BS5266 Part 1: 2016 stipulates that emergency safety lighting should be bright enough to allow building occupants to see their surroundings in the event of a mains supply failure and the loss of normal lighting. On the back of a successful working relationship which began in 1995, Hochiki Europe’s intelligent emergency lighting and fire detection solutions were specified by their customer Scottish Security and Fire Systems. Hochiki Europe’s ESP range of intelligent devices utilise the world-proven Enhanced Systems Protocol (ESP). The range offers high compliance to globally recognised safety standards, and the open protocol gives installers the flexibility to incorporate devices from multiple manufacturers. Intelligent LED Emergency Lighting Scottish Security and Fire Systems also chose to specify Hochiki Europe’s innovative FIREscape system – the UK’s first low-voltage, addressable, intelligent, LED emergency lighting system. When compared to conventional mains-driven, fluorescent emergency lighting luminaires, FIREscape products can save more than 95 per cent of energy costs*1. Richard Wharram, Regional Sales Manager at Hochiki Europe, explained: “In places of assembly, such as churches, many people can be affected by an emergency situation in a very short space of time, which means fire safety must be regarded with upmost importance. FIREscape technology is a fantastic investment for this project. The system is not only reliable, intelligent and compliant, but its energy saving capabilities make it a long-term, cost-effective investment, saving the church both time and money.” Safety For Church Buildings “By using our easy-to-install technology, the specifiers were also able to significantly reduce the expected turnaround time of the project. Using both our ESP intelligent and FIREscape products, Scottish Security and Fire Systems ensured that Glenrothes Baptist Church is completely compliant with the latest building regulations, and churchgoers will be alerted quickly and efficiently in the case of an emergency." Matthew Marshall, Assistant Pastor of Missions, said: “The new life safety system at Glenrothes Baptist Church is easy to operate, and its self-test ability is a great additional feature. The new system will undoubtedly save us time and money through energy savings over the coming years. The safety of our congregation is, of course, of paramount importance, and Hochiki Europe’s products have given us that peace of mind.” *1 Based on 100 luminaires (VTT Technical Research, Finland)