Fire Safety Planning
Created more than 20 years ago, the French firm COSSILYS21 offers intelligent video-protection solutions. It equips major national banks, numerous regional banks, as well as shops. The COSSILYS21 firm is nowadays a reference in the banking sector. COSSILYS21 and FOXSTREAM have established a strong partnership for several years. When Mister Alain Ghaye, CEO and main shareholder of COSSILYS21, decided to hand over its firm to retire, the idea of bringing closer the two firms naturally made its wa...
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...
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...
Christmas trees start more than 200 fires every year and one in every 31 results in death. Many people don't know the important safety tips, but since Sher Grogg tragically lost 6 members of her family, including her brother, Don, his wife and their 4 grandchildren in a fire caused by an overly dry Christmas tree, she has made it her mission to help other families celebrate their holidays safely. Watch Sher tell the story in her own words. #DoItForDon Holiday Fire Safety Campaign Fire safety ad...
Checkmate Fire Solutions, the UK’s passive fire protection specialist, is delighted to announce the appointments of Ash Babb and Andrew Heywood as Internal Technical Compliance Auditors, with responsibility for further improving its quality levels. The pair will undertake additional audits on Checkmate’s Passive Fire Protection, Fire Door, Intumescent Paint and Fire-Resistant Glazing installations and repairs, over and above the inspections carried out for third-party a...
The International Fire & Security Exhibition and Conference (IFSEC) India Expo, South Asia's largest security, civil protection and fire safety show by UBM India, is gearing up for its 12th edition which is slated for December 5th - 7th, 2018 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Supported by the Asian Professional Security Association (APSA), American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS), Electronic Security Association of India (ESAI), Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) and the Associate...
Draka’s Firetuf cable series for the cabling of tunnel systems has grown with the launch of the new Firetuf OFC-LT-SWA fire resistant loose tube cable with steel wire armour. As with all Firetuf cables, Firetuf OFC-LT-SWA has been designed for harsh environments and to ensure fail-safe management of operational systems in tunnels, underground railways and fire alarm systems. A steel wire armoured, refractory cable, Firetuf OFC-LT-SWA is ideal for heavy duty applications due to its high mechanical strength and pulling tension, plus its resistance to even the most determined rodents. The loose tube cable offers 90 minutes fire resistance thanks to its innovative design with double LSZH (Low Smoke Zero Halogen) sheathing in accordance with IEC standard 60331-25. The number of fibres per cable, from 12 to 144, is unique in the market. Central Tube Cables The new Firetuf OFC-LT-SWA is the latest addition to Draka’s portfolio of loose tube cables, which includes non-metallic Firetuf OFC-LT-NM and corrugated steel tape armoured Firetuf OFC-LT-CST. With a maximum number of 144 fibres, all three cable types are unique in the market. All three cable types have been thoroughly tested and approved. Draka also offers the Firetuf OFC-UT-NM (non-metallic) and Firetuf OFC-UT-CST (steel tape armoured) central tube cables, which are fire resistant Draka also offers the Firetuf OFC-UT-NM (non-metallic) and Firetuf OFC-UT-CST (steel tape armoured) central tube cables, which have a fire resistance even longer than their loose tube variants – up to 120 minutes. Depending on the design, they are equipped with 2 to 24 fibres. Tunnel Management “The number of tunnels and subways are increasing from year to year in a bid to better manage our traffic infrastructure, but present challenges when it comes to emergency situations such as accidents or fires. Safety is therefore the central issue in the planning and construction of tunnels," says Tayfun Eren, Product Manager at Draka, Prysmian Group. "The operational systems for tunnel management must be fail-safe around the clock. This requires safe and reliable cabling. Our high-quality Firetuf cable series are optimized for applications in tunnel operation such as fire detection, fire alarm systems, light and ventilation control and escape route systems and guarantee a highly available cable infrastructure.”
Just in time for National Fire Prevention Week, the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) is reminding people across the U.S. to take one simple action in their homes that could potentially save lives: Close Before You Doze. This vital public safety campaign encourages everyone to close all the doors in their homes each night before bed, following a study conducted by UL FSRI, showing that in a home fire, a closed door can be an effective barrier against deadly levels of carbon monoxide, smoke and flames. However, a new consumer survey conducted by UL FSRI showed that many people keep their doors open at night and don't know that a closed door could potentially save their life in a home fire. Closing doors in home fire incidents A September 2018 report by the NFPA concluded that residents are more likely to die in a home fire today than in 1980 Today, closing your doors is more important than ever, as evolutions in home furnishings, layouts, and construction over the last 40 years have reduced the average time to escape a home fire from 17 minutes to three minutes or less. A September 2018 report by the National Fire Protection Agency concluded that residents are more likely to die in a home fire today than in 1980. In the recent UL FSRI consumer survey of 3,204 adults across the U.S., less than half of respondents believe that in the event of a fire, it's safer to have their bedroom door closed, and only 29 percent always sleep with their door closed. Only 17 percent of those who sleep with their door closed for safety do so because they think it's safer in a fire. Of those who sleep with the door open for safety, 52 percent do so because they mistakenly think it's safer in case of a fire. "As fire service researchers and professionals, we encourage people to take several precautions and have an evacuation plan but closing doors at night is one simple and quick routine that anyone can adopt right now," said Steve Kerber, director of the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute. "It is a very simple behavior change that can help save your life and your loved ones." Effective fire escape plan UL FSRI gathered a group of unsuspecting everyday people to ask them about their safety concernsRelated specifically to families, additional key findings in UL FSRI's survey showed a low awareness of this potentially life-saving tip among parents, as 57 percent cite having a fire escape plan for their home, yet nearly as many are sleeping with their own door open. Among those families with senior citizens in their home, a third do not have a fire escape plan, and just 56 percent felt they could realistically evacuate their entire household in five minutes or less in the event of a fire. A closed door can not only serve as a protective barrier in a home fire but can help buy the time needed to safely escape or for emergency help to arrive. Understanding how important it is for people to see for themselves how significant of an impact a closed door can have in a house fire, UL FSRI gathered a group of unsuspecting everyday people to ask them about their safety concerns and what they perceive to be true about house fires. The group was introduced to Steve Kerber and his team, then witnessed a house burned with one-bedroom door open and one closed. Following the demonstration, the group was able to tour the house and see the real-life impact of a closed door compared to an open door. The demonstration and reactions were captured and can be viewed at CloseYourDoor.org.
Checkmate Fire Solutions, the passive fire protection specialist in the UK, is relocating its south-east office to larger premises in Harlow as a result of ongoing growth. The Yorkshire-headquartered business has been running its operations across the whole of southern England from an office in Dunmore, Essex. However, with demand for Checkmate’s compliance and third-party accredited installation services increasing, it is now implementing an expansion plan for the region. The first part of the plan will see it move from Dunmore in September 2018 to a bigger site in Harlow, from where it will service its customers in London and the south-east. It will then open a new office base for its operations in the south-west of England the following month. Making workplace and living spaces safer Improved passive fire protection makes workplaces and living spaces safer for everyone who works, sleeps in or visits those buildings, and that has to be a good thing" Mark Williams, Checkmate’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Estate managers and business owners now take passive fire protection more seriously than ever before, so it is natural that so many of them have chosen to appoint Checkmate’s teams of third-party accredited specialists for inspections, installations and remediation work. “We’ve seen orders from facilities management contractors, NHS trusts, universities, housing associations and commercial property owners in the south grow sharply over the past couple of years, so we have had to expand our presence in the region. “This increased focus on fire safety among property managers and owners is not just good for Checkmate, it is also a real positive for the public. Improved passive fire protection makes workplaces and living spaces safer for everyone who works, sleeps in or visits those buildings, and that has to be a good thing.” Providing consultation and inspection services 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 and the south of England, it now operates two divisions - compliance and solutions. The compliance division helps businesses and public sector organisations 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 specialise 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.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service engage with various trade organisations to raise awareness of best practice around fire safety On the 25th May 2017 fire safety inspectors from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service visited a takeaway shop, Mr Happy Oriental Restaurant and takeaway, on Blossom Street, York. During the visit the fire safety inspectors found that there were people living and sleeping on the first and second floors of the building. There was no working fire alarm in the building, nor was there a fire protected escape route. The business owner had also failed to carry out a fire risk assessment. In the event of a fire, the people living there would not have received an early warning that a fire had started and they would not have had a fire protected route to make an escape, meaning they could very easily have become trapped inside a burning building. Endangering the life of people Due to the poor fire safety conditions found a Prohibition Notice was served, informing the responsible person that they must not allow anyone to sleep in the building. North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service were of the opinion there was a risk to life or serious injury in the event of fire and prosecution was considered the appropriate action to take. At York Magistrates Court on Tuesday 31st July 2018, Mr Kheng Chooi Koay the owner of Mr Happy Oriental Restaurant and takeaway, pleaded guilty to three contraventions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which included breaching the Prohibition Notice served on the premises. Conducting or commissioning a fire risk assessment is the starting point for beginning to ensure that a building is or can be made safe for people in the event of a fire" Mr Kheng Chooi Koay was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,989 in costs with a surcharge of £170. A total cost of £7,159. The magistrates stated these were very serious offences. Fire risk assessment to ensure safety Watch Manager, Kevin Caulfield of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said; “North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service will always make a visit to a property when reports of poor fire safety standards are made to us. Depending on what is found appropriate advice will be given to the business, informal action may be taken or in some cases, such as this, the necessary enforcement action will be implemented. “In this case following the inspection, Notices were served. An investigation was conducted because the fire safety problems were so serious. The responsible person had not given any real thought to what might happen to the people sleeping in the building if a fire had occurred. Conducting or commissioning a fire risk assessment is the starting point for beginning to ensure that a building is or can be made safe for people in the event of a fire. Action taken due to the high level of risk to life “North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service will in most cases give responsible persons chance to comply with the legislation before taking legal proceedings. However, where cases are found where there is risk to life or serious injury in the event of fire, prosecution will be considered and where appropriate taken.” Improving the standards of fire safety and fire safety management will reduce the risk of fire and help to keep individuals and businesses safer" He continued: “North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service find that many businesses and sole traders are proactive in managing their fire safety well. Sadly, there are still too many occasions, like this case, where businesses are unaware or ignoring what they should be doing. Improving fire safety management “As a service we provide free fire safety advice to businesses and the public. We engage with various trade organisations and individual businesses to raise awareness of best practice around fire safety. I would welcome ideas from anyone and especially businesses and sole traders as to how we as a Service could best reach out and deliver our important fire safety messages. Improving the standards of fire safety and fire safety management will reduce the risk of fire and help to keep individuals and businesses safer.” North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service would like to remind business owners and landlords that it is important that they are aware of the legislative requirements they need to comply with including having an up to date fire risk assessment.
NFPA unveils new additions to its board of directors at the annual Conference & Expo 2018 The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) elected Brion Callori, Martha Connors, Reginald D. Freeman, William J. Fries, and Louis Paulson, to its board of directors at the association’s annual Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. The three-year term for each member takes effect upon the close of the conference. Three board members, John D. Bonney, R. David Paulison, and Michael Wallace were re-elected each for a second three-year term. Callori is senior vice president of Engineering and Research at FM Global, where he is responsible for corporate engineering and research activities and oversees a global staff of more than 450. Callori serves on the board of directors of the Spencer Educational Foundation, which supports the education of risk management students, and is a member of the Board of Visitors for the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Strategy implementation and product development expert Connors is a digital media and marketing consultant with expertise in growing businesses via new strategy implementation and new product development. She has a strong background in consumer marketing, having served in a direct marketing role for a nonprofit and later launching one of the first online media sites. In addition to currently serving on the Board of Trustees at YMCA Camp Mohawk, she has also served on several other boards. Freeman is fire chief/director of emergency management for the City of Hartford, Connecticut. His career has spanned city fire departments, aeronautics, and fire and emergency services in Iraq. Freeman was an instructor at the Mississippi State Fire Academy and is currently an adjunct professor at Anna Maria College in Massachusetts, having developed curriculum for a Master of Public Administration program. Among his several degrees and advanced training, Freeman recently completed his doctorate in Organisational Leadership. Fire and life safety specialists hired Fries is also a lifetime member of NFPA and has served on multiple technical committees Fries is the Pentagon fire marshal, supervising fire protection engineer, and deputy director of the Standards and Compliance Division at the Department of Defense. He established and manages the Office of the Pentagon Fire Marshal. With an extensive background in fire and life safety, Fries has written and co-written policy and procedures relating to fire and life safety, emergency management, and facility protection issues for the Department of Defense. Fries is also a lifetime member of NFPA and has served on multiple technical committees. Paulson until recently served as president of the California Professional Firefighters, an organisation which represents 30,000 career firefighters from 177 local affiliates in all state, political, and legislative activities. He is co-sponsor of the California Joint Apprenticeship Committee, the largest apprenticeship program in California. Since 2004, Paulson has served as chair of the California Fire Foundation, which provides emotional and financial assistance to families of fallen firefighters, firefighters, and the communities they protect. Paulson also serves on various boards related to the fire service and other areas including the Boy Scouts of America from whom he received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.
NFPA felicitates four awards at annual conference & expo The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) presented four awards to recognise outstanding achievements in fire and life safety at NFPA’s Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. Harry C. Bigglestone Award The Harry C. Bigglestone award is given annually to the paper appearing in Fire Technology that best represents excellence in the communication of fire protection concepts. This award honors the memory of Bigglestone, who served as a trustee of the Fire Protection Research Foundation, and who is a fellow and past president of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. The award is accompanied by a $5,000 cash prize. The 2018 Harry C. Bigglestone Award goes to Ruben Van Coile (Ghent University, Belgium and University of Edinburgh, UK), Georgios P. Balamenos (Rice University, Texas US, Manesh D. Pandey (Waterloo University, Canada), and Robby Caspeele (Ghent University, Belgium, for their paper entitled ‘An Unbiased Method for Probabilistic Fire Safety Engineers, Requiring a Limited Number of Model Evaluations’. This paper provides a computationally efficient methodology for application to structural fire safety. Results of this work can be applied with existing models and calculation tools and allows for a parallelisation of model evaluations. Lead author Ruben Van Coile, an assistant professor of structural fire safety at Ghent University (Belgium), will accept the award on behalf of his co-authors. Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal The 2018 Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal is awarded to ‘e-Sanctuary: Open Multi-Physics Framework for Modelling Wildfire Urban Evaluation.’ The Research Foundation Medal recognises the Fire Protection Research Foundation (Foundation) project completed in the previous year that best exemplifies the Foundation’s fire safety mission, technical challenges overcome and collaborative approach to execution that is the hallmark of all Foundation projects. There were 24 eligible projects for the award. An awards committee consisting of representatives from the Research Foundation Board, Research Advisory Committee, and NFPA technical staff reviewed summaries of the projects along with staff assessments of how they meet each of the criteria. The 2018 Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal is awarded to ‘e-Sanctuary: Open Multi-Physics Framework for Modelling Wildfire Urban Evaluation.’ The project describes a novel framework for modeling wildfire urban evacuations. Wildfire Urban Interface evacuation The work argues that an integrated approach requires consideration and integration of all three important components of Wildfire Urban Interface (WUI) evacuation: fire spread, pedestrian movement, and traffic movement. The report includes a systematic review of each model component, and the key features needed for the integration into a comprehensive toolkit. This project was made possible by funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and was led by Enrico Ronchi (Lund University, Sweden), Guillermo Rein (Imperial College of London), and Steven Gwynne (National Research Council of Canada). The Foundation Medal will be presented to Steven Gwynne, a senior research officer at the National Research Council of Canada; he will receive the medal on behalf of all those involved in the project. Industrial Fire Protection Section Fire Prevention Week Award The winner of the 2017 Industrial Fire Protection Section Fire Prevention is Mark Fessenden The winner of the 2017 Industrial Fire Protection Section Fire Prevention is Mark Fessenden, director of Industry Relations at Johnson Controls, Inc. Fessenden is active on several NFPA Technical Committees, which include Exposure Fire Protection, Residential Sprinkler Systems and Gaseous Fire Extinguishing Systems. He is certified by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies in water-based systems layout and special hazard suppression systems. Mark has an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from New England Institute of Technology and an MBA from Corban University. The 2017 Fire Prevention Week Award winner’s campaign was co-sponsored by a local Boy Scout Troop in Marinette, Wisconsin, and also supported by the local fire department. Youth had to complete activities such as fire extinguisher training using a simulator, testing and changing out batteries in smoke alarms, creating an evacuation plan, and more. Standards Medal The 2018 recipient of the Standards Medal is Bill Koffel, founder and president of Koffel Associates, a fire protection and safety engineering design and consulting firm. Koffel has been a member of NFPA since 1979 and taken part in 27 different technical committees. He chairs three NFPA Technical Committees, and recently chaired the Correlating Committee for NFPA 101, Life Safety Code for nine years. On top of his work in the NFPA Technical Committees, Koffel has also taken on the role as an educator, producing over 60 technical presentations and publications, and taught classes on various NFPA codes including NFPA 101, NFPA 13 and NFPA 25. This award recognises and honors outstanding contributions to fire safety, and the development of NFPA codes and standards. This award is the most distinguished award given by the NFPA Standards Council.
The continuity of power in the event of a real fire has never been more important as modern buildings become more complex and the need for the highest quality of products comes under the spotlight. With power for lighting and fire alarms, the fire and rescue services can use the intelligence gathered to evacuate people quickly, confident that they have found all the people in the building. Without power, they are literally scrambling in the dark without good information upon which to make their rescue. The continuity of power will also ensure that sprinkler or water mist systems can continue to operate where they exist. In commercial buildings, there may also be smoke evacuation fans which help to enable safe evacuation. Fire alarms may be digital, with loop systems which will provide information for fire and rescue services Appropriate Cabling At the start of a project, the most appropriate cabling should be specified as part of the electrical system rather than at the end of a project. Fire alarms may be digital, with loop systems which will provide information for fire and rescue services across individual areas and floors. At the same time, there are new designs, materials and products continually coming on to the market for major projects, and with it an increasing need for the various parties involved to work closely together to make sure they get it right. There has been an increasing incidence of non-approved cables on the market and unfortunately it is not until cables have been installed, tested or used that issues become clear. For installers, or those procuring cables, there is a need to check the cable when it arrives to make sure it is exactly what was specified. Should there be a problem, have it checked and seek good advice. Keep records of purchase, including reel flanges with batch markings and a sample of the cable markings. Send lengths for testing and then decide on the most appropriate course of action. Choice of cabling is crucial at the start of major projects as issues may occur later Meeting Rigorous Third-Party Tests For some buildings, it is crucial to select the highest quality products to meet the most rigorous third-party tests and real-life fire scenarios. These include environments such as hospitals, schools and care homes where older people and children move about. Specifiers looking at new large public sector projects such as hospitals should refer to BS 8519 for the electrical supply, and the most relevant cabling system. It is crucial to select the highest quality products to meet the most rigorous third-party tests This Code of Practice specifies that the type of system selected during the design phase ‘should be derived from a detailed process of consultation with the relevant authorities’ and that ‘the design should be agreed at an early stage.’ The decision-making process for cable selection relevant for life safety and firefighting systems is clearly defined here. This covers three categories ranging from 30 minutes to 120 minutes fire survival time. Categories 1 and 2 cover means of escape for 30 minutes and then 60 minutes respectively, and these cables are tested in accordance with the relevant codes. Category 3 for firefighting to 120 minutes refers to power and control cables meeting the 120-minute test according to the relevant standards. It should be emphasised that only Mineral Insulated Cable (MIC) or a cable meeting the requirements of BS7846 F120 will meet this criteria. For clarity, BS 8519 does not take precedence over BS 5839 for alarm systems and BS 5266 for emergency lighting. In essence, choosing the most relevant cabling and electrical accessories which will continue to operate under fire conditions has become critical. Application Of Medium Voltage Cables As the incidence of non-approved cables continues then so the application of Medium Voltage (MV) cables into high-risk environments including hospitals, schools, care homes, industrial sites and sub-stations serving infrastructure sites also becomes critical. In the context off fire engineering, it is important to select the relevant MV Cables in these areas. Adhering to the latest regulations is no longer enough - there needs to be a risk assessment. In order to do this effectively, it is important to ask – are the fire safety procedures up to date? All AEI MV cables are third party tested and approved by BASEC. Educational establishments including schools, colleges and laboratories are some of the most prone structures to fire hazards The whole supply chain needs to take consideration of these areas where vulnerable people often move about such as children or elderly people in hospitals or care homes. The fire and rescue services may need a little more time than a conventional building including reading complex fire alarm information to ensure a safe rescue in the event of a real fire. Educational establishments including schools, colleges and laboratories are some of the most prone structures to fire hazards. This is due to ageing structures, high volume of combustible materials, and changing use in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths programmes where more combustible and flammable liquids are being used. Concerns have been raised by architects and and designers about fire protection regimes Sufficient Fire Risk Assessment Recent research by the Fire Brigades Union, for example, showed that a key focus for all educational institutions must be ensuring that there is an effective fire risk management process in place, delivered by suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment carried out by an expert in the field. The best practice under Business Information Modelling (BIM) and all best practice of fire safety engineering methods should be observed in conjunction with project partners. There have been concerns over a number of years around the fire protection regime for new buildings expressed by the architects and designers themselves. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) points to the delays to Approved Document B with regard to the relationship of Building Regulations to changing design and construction. AEI Cables provides a full range of cabling products through its Total Fire Solutions service RIBA says the virtual disappearance of the role of the clerk of works or site architect and the loss of independent oversight of construction and workmanship on behalf of the client is a further issue for concern. In essence, RIBA believes that future proposals for the fire safety regulatory regime should be informed by the specialist fire safety expertise of relevant professional organisations and groups, and also take full account of this wider set of construction industry AEI Cables provides a full range of cabling products through its Total Fire Solutions service with the support of its parent company Ducab based in Dubai, with the design, manufacture and supply of MIC, Firetec Enhanced or Firetec Power depending on specific needs. The choice of cabling and accessories should not be underestimated at the earliest opportunity to ensure the fire and rescue services are given every chance of success in rescuing people and saving property.
While whole room protection – sprinklers or gas systems – is a common choice, there is an argument for thinking smaller; taking fire detection and suppression down to the equipment, enclosures and even the components where a fire is most likely to start. Traditional Fire Suppression Methods A traditional water-based sprinkler system is the most common form of fire protection found in commercial and industrial buildings. They offer reasonable cost, large area protection for entire facilities, safeguarding the structure and personnel by limiting the spread and impact of a fire. Every square foot of the protected area is covered equally regardless of the contents of the space, whether it’s an empty floor or an object with an increased risk of fire. Sprinklers aren’t always the most appropriate choice. Not all fires are extinguished by water of course, and in some cases, water damage can be just as harmful or even more so than the fire. They are an impractical choice for instance for facilities housing anything electrical, such as data centres and server rooms. There is also the risk of accidental activation, with an estimated cost of up to $1,000 for every minute they are left running. Water damage can be just as harmful or even more so than any fire, so sprinklers may not be appropriate Targeted Supplementary Fire Suppression An alternative method to protect whole server rooms and data centres is gas fire suppression, which either suppresses the fire by displacing oxygen (inert) or by using a form of cooling mechanism (chemical/synthetic). These aren’t without risk; in the case of inert gas, oxygen is reduced to less than 15% to suffocate the fire, but must be kept above 12% to avoid endangering the lives of personnel. Similarly, clean agent gas can be toxic in high doses. There are smaller, focused systems that give the option of highly targeted supplementary fire suppression within fire risk areas. Installing a system directly into the areas most at risk, means that fires can be put out before they take hold and cause serious damage. Both sprinkler and gas systems can contain a fire, but micro-environment or closed space systems are completely automatic, detecting and suppressing the fire so rapidly that activating a sprinkler or gas total flooding system often isn’t necessary. The most popular enclosure fire suppression systems achieve this though the use of a flexible and durable polymer tubing that is routed easily through the tightest spaces. The tubing is extremely sensitive to heat and, because it can be placed so close to potential failure points, detects it and releases the fire suppression agent up to ten times faster than traditional systems. An airline was forced to cancel over 2,000 flights after a “small fire” in one of its data centers Cost-Effective Fire Protection Highly customizable, small enclosure fire suppression is specifically designed to protect business critical spaces and equipment. It is typically used inside machinery like CNC machines, mobile equipment like forklifts and inside server rooms and electrical cabinetry but is suitable for any hazard that’s considered to have an elevated fire risk. Some may question the need or cost-effectiveness of protecting micro-environments. However, examples abound of where fires that have started at component level have gone on to cause damage of the highest magnitude, and the cost of downtime can be crippling to many time-sensitive facilities and processes. An airline was forced to cancel over 2,000 flights in August 2016 when what was described as a “small fire” in one of its data centers ultimately led to a computer outage. The cost of that small fire, and the domino effect that quickly escalated from it, has since been announced as $150m. Admittedly that number is unusually high - the average cost of a data centre outage today is estimated at a more conservative $730,000 – but this is still an expense businesses can ill afford. Preventing Major Losses Staying with the transport industry, newer metros systems have redundant systems in place to prevent interruptions. However, older metro lines, such as the one in New York City, have experienced electrical fires that started small, but grew to such a magnitude that service was affected for months.Older metro lines, such as New York City's, have experience electrical fires that start small but grew exponentially A wind energy customer experienced a fire in a turbine converter cabinet. The loss of the cabinet was valued at over $200,000 and disabled the turbine for six weeks. Following investment in fire suppression systems inside the electrical cabinet, a subsequent fire was detected and suppressed before major damage could be caused. The cost on this occasion was therefore limited to a $25,000 component and downtime was less than two days.Equally - happily - there are also many instances where the installation of small enclosure fire suppression has prevented disaster. In the manufacturing world, CNC machines are valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars and need to be constantly operational to justify the investment. Oil coolant used in the machines can create a flash fire in an instant due to failed components or programming errors. The fact that many of these facilities are run ‘lights out’ with no personnel present further exacerbates the risk. If a fire is not dealt with immediately, the machine will be destroyed; sprinklers don’t react quickly enough for this scenario and would be ineffective. Ensuring Business Continuity One such flash fire occurred inside a protected CNC machine at a machine shop in Iowa. The polymer tubing ruptured within a fraction of a second, releasing the suppression agent and extinguishing the flames. The machine was undamaged and was operational again with a few hours. Contrast this to a previous fire at the same facility in an unprotected machine; it was out of operation for 4 days, costing the business thousands of dollars in downtime In short, fire protection is an essential element of our industrial and commercial environments to ensure both safety and business continuity. However, the nature of that protection is changing, as capacity increases to cost-effectively protect specific areas where fires are most likely to start. Risk mitigation analysis needs to look beyond what has been accepted in the past and find ways to further limit the impact of a small fire using this next level of protection. The benefits can really have a positive effect on the bottom line in the event of fire.
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.
The Fire Risk Assessment infographic details the responsibilities of employers and building owners towards fire safety The Fire Risk Assessment Network have released a new infographic detailing the responsibilities of employers, building owners or occupiers with regards to fire safety at the workplace. The visually compelling, easy-to-understand infographic also includes information about general safety hazards, fire risk assessments and the law. It is of the utmost importance that those responsible for workplaces and other buildings, which are open to public access, can avoid fires by taking responsibility for and adopting the right behaviours and procedures, including carrying out a fire risk assessment and keep it up to date. Mitigating risks The purpose of a fire risk assessment is to identify the fire hazards, identify people at risk, evaluate, remove or reduce the risks, record your findings, prepare an emergency plan, provide training and review and update regularly. The infographic provided by the Fire Risk Assessment Network details the three things that fires need to start, and what procedures that employers must follow to combat these three things. The complete infographic explores what the ways are to carry out a fire risk safety assessment, and different studies, guidance and information for business owners to be safe. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 helps promote fire safety in England and Wales, and this infographic hopes to help others know more about fire safety.
NetVu’s advanced Video Smoke Detection (VSD) system is being used to provide a rapid response to potential fires in the AU$554 million Sydney Harbour Tunnel. Retrofitted to 80 of the tunnel’s CCTV cameras - 40 in each tube - VSD offers a vital early warning of incidents in the tunnel which carries nearly 90,000 vehicles a day. Benefits Of The Video Smoke Detection The key benefit of the Video Smoke Detection (VSD), now being applied in Sydney, is its ability to use image-processing technology and extensive detection and known false alarm algorithms to alert the system operator to the presence of smoke in the shortest possible time This is especially critical in a confined tunnel environment. Unlike traditional methods, by effectively detecting smoke at source, VSD does not rely on the proximity of smoke to the detector and is therefore unaffected by distance. Said Shaun Smith, D-Tec’s Regional Manager for Australasia: “We are extremely pleased - in conjunction with our Australian agent, Chubb Fire Safety - to be associated with such a prestigious project, which underlines the growing demand for VSD to be applied to minimise the risk that fire presents to road and rail tunnels.” Fire Protection System Features At the time of construction of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, back in 1992, it was fitted with the best fire protection systems available. These consisted of thermal point detectors spaced every 15 metres over each lane; more than 40 CCTV cameras - an additional 48 cameras were installed in 2000 - facing oncoming traffic throughout both tubes; complimented by a manual deluge system operated from a dedicated 24-hour manned control room in North Sydney. The catalyst for the move to implement a new NetVu Video Smoke Detection solution came from an ongoing programme of intensive training and monthly maintenance by the Sydney Harbour Tunnel Company (SHTC). With advances in technology, the tunnel’s management was keen to look for more effective systems of fire detection. In conjunction with the Sydney Fire Brigade a series of controlled vehicle fires were created to test the tunnel’s exhaust system’s ability to remove smoke, the activation of the point detectors, and the capability of the deluge system to suppress a fire. At this stage the SHTC management invited us and our Australian agent Chubb Fire Safety to take part in these tests and trial the state-of-the-art VSD. Tunnel Fire Detection During the live burning of the vehicles, temperatures at the fire site reached in excess of 500°C. All cameras in the fire’s direct field of view were totally obscured within 25 seconds. The operation of the deluge system was delayed in order to allow the fire to develop and for a large volume of smoke to spread along the tunnel. Activation of any of the tunnel’s alarms was monitored. After approximately five minutes and a full-blown fire with extreme temperatures, the deluge was operated and the fire contained. The live images of the fire were screened through the VSD system and the first alarm was generated in 14 seconds of visible smoke and prior to any visible flames, a further 30 alarms were generated during the remainder of the test burn. This was in stark contrast with the existing solution. At no point during the tests did any of the older automated systems within the tunnel generate an alarm. Real Time Images As a result of the successful tests, the VSD was then procured by the Sydney Harbour Tunnel Company (SHTC) to cover 80 of the tunnel’s existing CCTV cameras. The solution is capable of providing real time images and has a storage capacity of up to 5000 watermarked bitmap images. For the Sydney Harbour Tunnel the VSD hardware transmits its alarm signals to a dedicated NFP2 Chubb fire panel. The NFP2 then provides a visual and audible alarm within the tunnel control room and generates an interactive mimic panel via a graphic interface package known as “Digifire”. The system was commissioned with the full co-operation of the SHTC control room staff and management and handed over in May 2006. Since that time thankfully the tunnel has been free from real time incidents. “We cannot afford to be complacent, the fatal fire within the Melbourne City Link Tunnel in March 2007 reminds us that we must remain vigilant at all times,” said Bob Allen General Manager Sydney Harbour Tunnel. NetVu is the world leader in CCTV camera-based VSD for fire protection. Its systems have already established themselves on the front line in situations ranging from aircraft hangars to turbine halls, historic buildings, road tunnels, rail depots, warehouses and shopping malls.
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.”