Fire Safety Planning
Water is key to any firefighting operation. Being able to secure an adequate water supply is critical a critical skill for all fire departments. One of the most challenging scenarios to secure a water supply in is when there is no municipal water supply, or it is lacking in volume and flow. When fires occur in these areas, the only alternative is to shuttle water from the nearest municipal supply or a static body of water. To get the highest flow possible, departments must train on shuttle set...
Bristol Uniforms, a designer and manufacturer of protective clothing for emergency services across the globe, has joined forces with its international distributor Rosenbauer Slovenia to secure a contract with Ljubljana Fire Brigade. Rosenbauer Slovenia and Bristol’s world-class design team worked closely to produce the winning design, which is based on Bristol’s ergonomic and lightweight XFlex design and customized to accommodate specific equipment. They used the latest fabric techn...
On May 13th this year, the yearly Euralarm Symposium will take place. This years' conference venue is the Melia Madrid Serrano Hotel in Madrid, Spain. The symposium will start with a Networking Lunch and will end with a President’s Dinner (optional). In between, participants will have ample opportunities to mingle with Euralarm members and industry peers, build relationships and exchange views on the profession. Euralarm Symposium First and for all, the conference is the place to g...
Did you know an estimated 30% of smoke alarms in the UK are inoperable due to missing, flat or disconnected batteries? For a property to comply with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, it is vitally important that all fire safety equipment is kept in perfect working order at all times. This involves checking that the fire safety equipment is accessible, well maintained and hasn’t been tampered with. There are many ways you can take care of your fire safety equipment, to ensur...
Five Wilmington, Del., firefighters and two police officers were hospitalized last September when they inhaled the opioid fentanyl while responding to a drug overdose call. A family member had turned on a fan, which blew white powder onto the firefighters and police officers. Last August at a prison in Chillicothe, Ohio, there were 28 people – guards, nurses and one inmate at the correctional facility near Cincinnati – who were treated for exposure to a mixture of heroin and fentan...
The ninth round of FeuerTrutz at Exhibition Centre Nuremberg broke new records. The 315 exhibitors (287 in 2018) from 21 countries (15) and over 9,000 trade visitors (8,354) from 50 nations (42) packed Halls 10.0 and 10.1 to turn the event into Europe’s largest dialog platform for preventive fire protection. For two days, the exhibition and accompanying congress with around 1,500 delegates, and the extensive supporting program, put preventive fire protection firmly under the spotlight. Pa...
Many volunteer departments are forced to make do with an inadequate amount of turnout gear or with worn-out, non-compliant gear they can’t afford to replace. That’s why MSA, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) are working together again in 2019 to distribute new turnout gear to volunteer fire departments through MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway Program. This annual program began in 2012 to help departments in need properly outfit their crew. To date, the program has delivered 455 sets to 95 departments. Longstanding Partnership The NVFC is excited to partner with MSA and DuPont again this year on our annual giveaway" “The NVFC is excited to partner with MSA and DuPont again this year on our annual giveaway,” said NVFC Chair Kevin D. Quinn. “Proper turnouts are essential to ensure the safety of our boots on the ground, but many volunteer departments struggle to provide adequate protection to their firefighters. We are grateful to MSA and DuPont for their generosity in giving back to those who serve.” “MSA is pleased to continue this longstanding partnership with DuPont and the NVFC to provide advanced turnout gear to volunteer fire departments in need,” said chief operating officer of MSA’s Globe firefighter protective apparel Tom Vetras. “For more than 100 years we’ve been dedicated to protecting those who protect us, so when there are first responders in need – we’re proud to be able to help.” Gear Giveaway Program “With DuPont’s continued focus on protecting firefighters, we are proud and humbled to partner alongside MSA and the NVFC on this much needed gear giveaway program,” said John Richard, vice president and general manager, DuPont Kevlar and Nomex. “Ensuring that these brave men and women are protected as they selflessly serve their communities is paramount to DuPont, and we look forward to the kick-off of another successful Globe Gear Giveaway campaign.” The 2019 application period for MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway is now open The 2019 application period for MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway is now open. 13 departments will each receive four sets of new gear, for a total of 52 sets. The first 500 applicants will also receive a one-year NVFC membership, courtesy of MSA. MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway Criteria To be eligible to apply for MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway, departments must meet the following criteria: be all-volunteer or mostly-volunteer (over 50 percent) serve a population of 25,000 or less be located in the U.S. or Canada and legally organized under state/province law demonstrate a need for the gear department or person applying must be a member of the NVFC. To help departments meet the membership criteria, MSA will provide a complimentary NVFC Membership to the first 500 applicants.
Chubb is launching an innovative new virtual reality (VR) fire safety training tool to re-create fire-related situations without leaving the classroom. This new ‘YouRescue’ training program, developed in conjunction with Wanadev, is the latest addition to Chubb’s existing training offering. Chubb is a part of Carrier, a global provider of innovative heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), refrigeration, fire, security and building automation technologies. Today, businesses, through their HR or security managers, want to expose their employees to the reality of fire-related incidents to underscore the importance of fire safety training and ensure a practical understanding of how to respond in such situations. The new VR training tool addresses this challenge. The YouRescue program is made up of a 30-minute theoretical group course followed by an individual, practical VR course Easy to use and employing the latest innovative technologies, the YouRescue program is made up of a 30-minute theoretical group course followed by an individual, practical VR course. For the latter, the trainees are led by an expert instructor who stands by their side during the immersive and realistic experience. In one day, two groups of 15 people can be trained, totalling 30 people. Both sessions can be completed in just 40 minutes. The Advantages Of VR Training Using a headset connected to a powerful laptop, the trainee is immersed into a realistic, three-dimensional (3D) situation. In the YouRescue ‘Fire at the office’ training program, the trainee is in an open space and has to extinguish a fire coming from a dustbin, a printer or an electrical cabinet. YouRescue is also a simple-to-deliver training experience for the coach because setting up the material takes less than five minutes and can be performed in a reduced space of minimum two metres by two metres. The second part of the training, individual practice, can also be performed in the same place as the first theoretical part in a simple meeting room. It is not necessary to ask the group to move outside their offices. Taking Initial Action Before Help Arrives The YouRescue virtual reality scripts empower participants to take initial actions before professional help arrivesThe VR training allows each participant to put their theoretical course learnings into practice, which enables trainees to better retain the message. The YouRescue virtual reality scripts empower participants to take initial actions before professional help arrives. The experience also provides the participant with a score that allows them to measure their performance. This can be shared with other colleagues or simply analyzed with the trainer to ensure corrective action. This YouRescue training program has already been used successfully by many customers such as HOP! (Groupe Air France). One maintenance worker who followed this training course in virtual reality said: “If I have to face this type of situation in the future, I’m sure I will react without apprehension, because I will feel like I’ve already lived it!” The Project Perspectives Thanks to its national network of 45 agencies, Chubb France can provide this new training tool across France. YouRescue was created by the technological company Wanadev, located in Lyon. This business offers innovative educational content to talented trainers in the field of enterprise safety. The development of YouRescue relies on a growing network of ambassadors such as training companies or independent trainers willing to operate their digital transformation. The scenario YouRescue ‘Fire at the office’ was developed in partnership with Chubb. Other innovations and scripts are underway.
Effective sprinkler systems are often the decisive criterion for immediately stopping the frequent fires from developing their destructive power. To ensure that these important technologies will always function safely in an emergency, experts all over the world rely on the practical VdS Guidelines CEA 4001en for planning and installation. Europe's largest institute for fire protection has now comprehensively updated this standard reference work. Importance Of Sprinkler Systems In Fire Safety Every five minutes a fire breaks out in a company in Germany Every five minutes a fire breaks out in a company in Germany. Equal numbers can be assumed for many other countries with fire damage even in the rather small Netherlands with fire damage costs reaching 1 billion Euros every year. The decisive factor for successful firefighting is always the immediate response in this emergency – making sprinkler systems probably the most important mechanism for the protection of human lives and property against the enormous destructive forces of fire. Until these systems were invented, fires were regarded as natural disasters that could not be controlled and repeatedly destroyed entire cities. VdS, Europe's largest institute for safety, has been testing sprinkler systems since they were first in use on our continent – and is bundling its more than 110 years of experience in loss prevention in the international standard for the safe planning and installation of these important systems: The Guidelines VdS CEA 4001en. This technical support tool, known in the industry as the “Sprinkler Bible”, is now available in a comprehensively updated version. The Guidelines VdS CEA 4001en – “Sprinkler Bible” The regulations for ESFR extinguishing systems have also been greatly expanded" Frank Bieber, head of Product Management VdS Inspection Services, explains the new features: “The core revisions concern, for example, specifications for pipe holders and the use of systems in buildings equipped with SHEVs. Important were also changes for optimal frost protection, requirements for shelf sprinklers specially for the protection of small parts stores, automatic monitoring of systems and the connection of additional users to the water supply." "The regulations for ESFR extinguishing systems have also been greatly expanded. In addition, we have clarified all points about which questions have arisen from our partners in recent years. The new edition of the VdS CEA 4001en offers all those responsible for technical fire protection the usual practical, precise assistance adapted to the latest technologies and conditions. Goal: Proven effectivity in the implementation of reliable sprinkler systems”. Together with experts from practice, science and authorities, VdS inspectors continuously work on the further development and updating of the institute's Guidelines. For users, this ensures optimum protection and fire safety at all times.
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 way. This project was carried out in cooperation with the Managing Director of COSSILYS21, Mister François Bureau, entirely associated in this take-over project. Technological challenges The skills of these two teams represent a powerful asset to deal with tomorrow’s technological challenges in our market" “COSSILYS21 offers a know-how in video manipulation and in the management of server farms. Their offer is strongly complementary to FOXSTREAM’s offer, as our know-how is oriented towards video analysis,” states Jean-Baptiste Ducatez, FOXSTREAM’s CEO. “The skills of these two teams represent a powerful asset to deal with tomorrow’s technological challenges in our market, the Cloud, deep learning, cybersecurity... It is a beautiful human adventure that begins.” “It is a strategic and industrial alliance of two growing companies, both recognized in their sectors,” adds François Bureau, Managing Director of COSSILYS21. “The synergy of both our technologies and our skills will allow our two firms to enhance our clients’ satisfaction. Starting 2019, an ambitious investment plan will reinforce our innovation capacities.” After the purchase of the firm BLUE EYE VIDEO at the end of 2014, FOXSTREAM now acquires COSSILYS21 and confirms its ambition to be a leading actor, strongly present in cutting-edge technologies, on the French and international security and flow management markets.
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 and Rescue Services (F&RS) and the public at unnecessary risk. “The vast majority of automatic fire alarm calls are proven to be false and are often caused by either false fire triggers or the inadequate maintenance of alarm systems,” commented Don Scott, fire engineering consultant Siemens Building Technologies. False alarm activations Christmas is already a time of heightened risk of fire for many businesses with the F&RS stretched to capacity across the country" “Christmas is already a time of heightened risk of fire for many businesses with the F&RS stretched to capacity across the country. False alarms create further pressures when emergency services have to challenge whether alarms are genuine before attending incidents – the time lost could end up costing thousands of pounds in repairs or at worst, put lives at risk.” Ionisation or single-sensor optical smoke detectors are a common cause of false alarm activations as they have difficulty in accurately distinguishing between airborne pollutants, such as steam, aerosols, dust, cooking fumes, insects, sparks, embers and a real fire. The incorrect siting of detectors can also be triggered if there is excessive air movement from mechanical heating or ventilation. Testing compromise safety Multi-sensor detectors are responsive to more than one fire phenomena, i.e. smoke, heat and carbon-monoxide and are proven to be more immune to false alarm phenomena thereby giving fewer false activations. For more stringent applications; beam detectors, heat detectors and aspirating detectors are available. A regular maintenance programme ensures the correct functioning of a fire alarm system - inadequate servicing and testing compromise safety A regular maintenance programme ensures the correct functioning of a fire alarm system - inadequate servicing and testing compromise safety. If an alarm system is aging or becoming unreliable replacement is advised when offset against the cost of disruption to a business. Generally, detectors should be replaced every 10-15 years, depending upon the environment in which they are installed and the manufacturers recommendations. Increase response times Dave Green, national officer, Fire Brigades Union added: “False alarms use up resources which could be better served elsewhere, and increase response times to actual emergencies. But it is better to be safe than sorry, and fire services should always be called when any alarm is raised.” “Fire services are under more pressure than ever before, dealing with more incidents and more fires, with increasingly fewer firefighters. Since 2009, there has been a 23% decrease in the number of firefighters across the UK. This huge decrease in the number of firefighters has meant that preventative work, which would help to reduce the number of false alarms, has worryingly fallen by the wayside.”
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 advocacy group, Common Voices, and Flash Max, fire safety superhero character helps spread the message through the #DoItForDon Holiday Safety Campaign Sher has teamed up with fire safety advocacy group, Common Voices, and Flash Max, a fire safety Superhero character (and active firefighter) to help spread her message through the #DoItForDon Holiday Safety Campaign that includes a downloadable Christmas Tree Safety Flyer. Here are three easy-to-follow tips: Water the Tree Stand Daily Always Turn the Lights off and Unplug Them Before Leaving or Going to Bed Dispose of the Tree Within 30 Days or By January 2, whichever comes first Virginia Fighters And Home Fire Safety It was after hearing about the tragic fire that claimed the lives of Sher Grogg's family that Michael Furman, the Fairfax County, Virginia firefighter created the Flash Max character. His mission: to bring the important message of home fire safety and survival to children and families. "After overcoming my own personal childhood fear of fire, I always wanted to work with children to help allay their fears. Watching how the unconscionable tragedy of a Christmas tree fire gripped the hearts of people nationwide, set the wheels in motion for Flash Max the fire safety superhero to be born," he says. "My brother, Don, died trying to save his loved ones," notes Sher Grogg. "These are simple steps that everyone should know to keep their family safe. We also now know that if the house had fire sprinklers, the outcome would have been much different. Fire sprinklers buy time, and time buys life."
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.
Horbury Property Services, part of the Horbury Group, has been selected to provide fire safety services for over 55s accommodation managed by Sheffield-based Arches Housing. The contract involves Horbury Property Services providing fire door replacement and fire compartmentation upgrades, which will be completed within a four-week schedule, as part of enhancing fire safety for residents. Offering Optimal Fire Protection Richard Sutton, General Manager at Horbury Property Services, said: “This is our second major contract with Arches Housing and we are very pleased to be working with them again to enhance fire safety in one of their sheltered housing schemes. Fire safety is an essential requirement in all buildings, and we aim to ensure that the residents of Arches Housing are offered the best possible fire protection.” Luigi Iantorno, asset compliance & reinvestment officer at Arches Housing, said: “Horbury Property Services secured this contract as a result of a rigorous competitive tender. The upgrade to fire doors and fire compartmentation is an important part of our planned maintenance works as we aim to ensure our homes are as fire safe as possible.” Other Services Offered By Horbury Horbury Property Services provides a full range of works, which includes installation, repair and maintenance of fire doors As well as fire door and fire compartmentation services, Horbury Property Services provides a full range of works, which can form part of planned maintenance programs. This includes ceiling and dry wall partitioning inspection, installation, repair and maintenance of fire doors, joinery works, fire stopping, sealing, fire compartmentation, fire alarm and emergency light testing, portable appliance testing, electrical testing and installation work, building fabric repairs as well as external cladding and render repairs. In addition, the wider Horbury Group provides painting and decorating, flooring refurbishment and installation, amongst others. The company has its head office in South Yorkshire, plus regional offices in London and South Wales, ensuring a truly national capability. This regional presence enables its teams to successfully deliver responsive repairs or large planned refurbishment and maintenance programmes. Arches Housing is a community-based social landlord, which was established in 1975 and provides more than 1,200 affordable homes in Sheffield and Rotherham.
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.”