Fire Safety Policies
Due to the nature of their design and uses, tunnels have particularly unique fire risks, and any fire can spread quickly, risking damage to assets or injuries to teams. Mining, cable and communication tunnels are subject to significantly high risks, as they utilize heavy-duty machinery, flammable materials and cables, which are all subject to the production of excess heat. Here we discuss the prevalent fire risks in tunnels and explain how businesses operating within them can assess and mitigat...
CU First Responders Finance (CUFR) is excited to welcome Firefighters First Credit Union as a lead lender to their business lending network. Firefighters First Credit Union will be originating commercial and business loans generated by the CUFR network of first responder credit unions. CUFR’s business lending solutions CUFR’s business lending solutions provide an online platform for member credit unions to refer their members’ business loan requests to a trusted lender. They...
In the years since the Grenfell Tower tragedy of 2017, all eyes have been on fire regulations, which have come under increased scrutiny – and it’s easy to see why. Even after the disaster, businesses across the UK are still lagging behind on mandatory fire safety regulations. It seems that regulatory change has not brought about the desired outcome at most organizations. With all 53 recommendations of the Hackitt Review set to come into effect this year, many a...
The latest two winners have been announced in MSA Safety Incorporated’s and DuPont’s 2020 Globe Gear Giveaway. Douglas City (CA) Volunteer Fire Department and Cooper Landing (AK) Emergency Services will each receive four sets of state-of-the-art turnout gear and four helmets to increase the safety of their members. Providing turnout gear MSA, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) team up each year to help volunteer fire departments obtain much-needed gear. With the...
Carbon monoxide (CO), also known as the ‘silent killer’, is especially dangerous because it is not visible and cannot be smelt or tasted. The only way to protect against this potentially deadly threat is with a CO alarm. In honor of CO Awareness Month in November, First Alert and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have partnered to create an online CO awareness and CO alarm training course for volunteer fire departments nationwide, supplemented by an alarm donation program f...
Adapting workspaces to operate safely during a pandemic presents complications, not least of which is making sure that the measures taken to protect employees from infection do not undermine fire safety. In the course of altering a building to prevent infection spread, there are risks of introducing new life safety hazards and compromising emergency preparedness. As buildings adapt to new occupancy standards and requirements, it is critical that any protective measures do not interfere with ope...
In response to a specific customer requirement, Kentec Electronics, a globally renowned manufacturer of life-critical control systems, has developed through their Special Applications Department an Evacuation and Alert Control Indicating System (EACIE) to provide fire and rescue teams with an intelligent communication structure to support staged evacuation. Evac-Point system Kentec’s made-to-order ‘Evac-Point’ system uses user-defined zone reference labeling to enable Fire Services to sound alarms in targeted areas of a building, such as a specific flat or floor, so that the public can be evacuated in line with how an incident develops. It is being delivered through Kentec’s Special Applications bespoke engineering department, which has a long-established pedigree for manufacturing evacuation control panels. The modular design allows for greater flexibility and site customization for the installer and end user and reduces lead time availability. Efficient tall-buildings rescue and evacuations The custom-build panel’s development follows the Grenfell tragedy and the 2019 BS 8629 Standard, which seeks to ensure residential buildings over 18 meters high are provided with an effective means to help the fire brigade evacuate efficiently and effectively, regardless of the manufacturer or specific design. It is available in two and three loop versions (expandable to four loops) with a modular design, where banks of five can be added to increase capacity, if required. In-built LED control panel illumination Evac-Point provides the market with a convenient, good-value and highly-sophisticated option" Derrick Hall, Sales Director at Kentec, stated “Evac-Point provides the market with a convenient, good-value and highly-sophisticated option. Other products on the market are only available in the largest sizes, meaning paying for functionality that is not required.” He adds, “Another differentiation is its in-built LED control panel illumination, provided as standard. The BS 8629 Standard recommends a lit environment, so this additional feature saves installing dedicated lighting separately. Our role as life-safety manufacturers is, as ever, to make the lives of our installers and the end users easier and safer.” Integrated with Syncro AS technology The Evac-Point system is available with a flush bezel so that it can be set into the wall, providing a secure and robust, two-point locking steel enclosure. It is based on the reliable Syncro AS technology, with an open protocol architecture that is compatible with Hochiki and Apollo protocols to provide maximum system design flexibility. Kentec is hosting a webinar on Monday 9th November 2020 from 11 am to 11.30 am, where Derrick Hall, Director of Sales, will talk about BS8629 and how it will impact any residential building over 18m, as well as how Kentec Electronics can help.
Fire and life safety systems manufacturer, Advanced has announced the appointment of a dedicated business development manager responsible for the launch and growth of EvacGo, Advanced’s new BS 8629-compliant evacuation alert system. EvacGo, Evacuation Alert System Ken Bullock, who joined Advanced as Regional Sales Manager for South East England, four years ago, brings over 35 years of fire industry experience to his new role as Business Development Manager – EvacGo, Evacuation Alert Systems. Ken has been instrumental in the development of the EvacGo solution and ensuring that it will make life easy for anyone who needs to meet the BS 8629 Code of Practice recommendation, applicable to buildings over 18 meters in height and containing flats. Enhancing fire safety in high-rises I’ve been heavily involved in developing our evacuation alert system and am passionate about the ability of this product" Ken Bullock, Business Development Manager – Emergency Evacuation Systems, said “I’ve been heavily involved in developing our evacuation alert system and am passionate about the ability of this product to help improve fire safety for residents in high-rise buildings. It therefore seemed natural for me to focus on educating the market about the importance of following BS 8629 recommendations and to raise awareness of our evacuation alert solution, EvacGo.” Ken adds, “In developing our system, we’ve worked with renowned fire industry experts to ensure it delivers maximum performance, quality and ease of use. I now look forward to developing these relationships still further as we all strive to build a safer future.” Built using MxPro 5 fire panel components The EvacGo panel is built using Advanced’s industry-renowned MxPro 5 fire panel components, providing the added assurance for installers and building owners that their sites will be protected with robust and proven technology that’s been rigorously tested to EN 54 parts 2 and 4 as recommended in BS 8629. To ensure every aspect of the BS 8629 Code of Practice was followed, the panel is housed in a tamper-proof STS 205 class BR2 security-rated enclosure, made by renowned manufacturer, Gerda with a patented BS EN 1303-compliant lock and key mechanism for exclusive access by the fire and rescue service. BS 8629:2019 Code of Practice compliant BS 8629:2019 is the new Code of Practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of evacuation alert systems for use by fire and rescue services in England. In place since November 2019, this code of practice recommends the installation of a dedicated evacuation alert system intended for the sole use of the fire and rescue services and separate from the building’s fire alarm system. It is relevant to blocks of flats with a story located at a height of more than 18 meters above ground level. Evacuation alert control and indicating equipment installation EACIE installation is already mandatory in new buildings containing flats over 18 meters high in Scotland Although not yet a legal requirement in England, evacuation alert control and indicating equipment (EACIE) installation is already mandatory in new buildings containing flats over 18 meters high in Scotland and considered best practice by a number of fire and rescue services. Gary Craig, Sales Director at Advanced, stated “Over recent months, Ken’s work on EvacGo has focused on ensuring it is easy for building owners and installers to meet the recommendations of the BS 8629 Code of Practice, while ensuring optimum safety for the residents of high-rise buildings and ease of use for the fire service. Ken’s expertise will help ensure the process of specifying, designing and sourcing a BS 8629 system is simple, straightforward and stress-free.” Expansion of evacuation alert systems business Gary adds, “Ken’s appointment adds a vastly experienced voice to this project and the future direction of our evacuation alert systems business. His expertise and track record in driving growth and expansion within the UK market will be immensely valuable, as we experience rising demand for this new product.” Account customers currently looked after by Ken will continue to receive excellent support, as they transfer to Business Development Manager, Amanda Hope.
Comelit Group’s dedicated fire division has achieved the stringent EN54-13 standards for its analog addressable fire detection system. The globally renowned fire safety solutions specialist, known for its high specification solutions, presents a range of specialist fire solutions, including conventional systems that are particularly suited to fire detection in smaller facilities and buildings with simple layouts. Atena addressable panels Comelit’s Atena addressable panels can identify the precise location of a fire and are suitable for applications of all types. Mandy Bowden, Comelit’s Fire Business Development Manager said “Those operating in the fire sector, will not only be familiar with the requirement for fire protection products, but also the need to provide evidence that a complete system will function as intended under all expected operating conditions.” EN54-13 is a rigorous system test procedure that goes beyond any individual standard" Mandy adds, “EN54-13 is a rigorous system test procedure that goes beyond any individual standard. Complying demonstrates how our products really go over and above the requirements needed to satisfy the CPD/CPR, operating as a full fire detection and alarm system and not just as a sum of components. It’s a great accomplishment for Comelit, proving our complete system performance capability at all times, in every environment.” EN54-13 standards compliance EN54-13 (referencing the compatibility and connectivity assessment of system components) was first published in 2005. In most European countries, EN54-13 standards compliance is an essential requirement for fire detection and alarm systems. It’s also a British Standard and referenced in BS 5839 Part 1. Francesca Boeris, Comelit UK Managing Director said “This is a great achievement for the fire team and one Comelit is particularly proud, to demonstrate our commitment to innovation and compliance.” Francesca adds, “It provides our customers and the supply chain as a whole with peace of mind that, in using Comelit’s fire products portfolio, lives are always protected in the event of a fire, even in the most demanding situations, when you need the system most.”
MSA Safety, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) are helping volunteer fire departments obtain much-needed gear through MSA’s and DuPont’s Globe Gear Giveaway. In 2020, 13 departments will each receive four new sets of turnout gear and four new helmets to help enhance the safety of their firefighters. The first 500 applicants also received a one-year NVFC membership, courtesy of MSA. The latest recipients of MSA’s and DuPont’s Globe Gear Giveaway are the Highway K Volunteer Fire Department in Doniphan, MO, and the Valley View Volunteer Fire Department in Lawton, OK. Highway K Volunteer Fire Department Highway K Volunteer Fire Department (Highway K VFD) protects 95 square miles of rural southern Missouri Highway K Volunteer Fire Department (Highway K VFD) protects 95 square miles of rural southern Missouri, serving around 900 residents and responding to an average of 35 calls annually. Based out of Doniphan, Missouri, the department’s 16 active volunteer firefighters share 12 sets of turnout gear, all of which were donated by other fire departments and are between 15 and 25 years old. Without adequate protective gear, many of the normal duties required of firefighters become more difficult and dangerous. The department puts the health and safety if its members first, and due to the age and condition of their available gear, firefighters do not make interior entry during structural fires unless someone is trapped inside. Rely on voluntary subscriptions and donations for funds Highway K VFD is not supported by any tax dollars and instead relies on voluntary subscriptions, donations, and fundraisers. The department’s firefighters and board of directors spend hundreds of hours each year to help with fundraising efforts, but community members have limited donations to give. Rising operating costs and a small budget make purchasing multiple sets of turnout gear impossible. In addition to the safety implications, receiving the new gear from MSA Safety and DuPont will help the Highway K Volunteer Fire Department’s efforts to recruit new firefighters. “Many [trained firefighters] do not want to volunteer for a department that cannot provide up-to-date gear,” said Chief Greg Greenwood of the Highway K Volunteer Fire Department, adding “I believe that having up-to-date gear that can be issued to the higher-trained volunteers will help with the recruitment and retention of volunteers.” Valley View Volunteer Fire Department Valley View Volunteer Fire Department is a relatively new department serving a rural area of southern Oklahoma Based out of Lawton, Oklahoma, the Valley View Volunteer Fire Department is a relatively new department serving a rural area of southern Oklahoma. In addition to protecting 15 square miles in the immediate vicinity of their station, the fire department is a state-certified emergency medical response agency and responds to other districts to provide fire safety and rescue services that they are lacking. Founded in 2012, the Valley View Volunteer Fire Department’s majority protective turnout gear was donated by other fire departments, but is now between 10 and 15 years old. Most of the fire department’s budget has gone to build the fire station and equip their fire rescue trucks, leaving little left to purchase turnout gear. “The time it will take us to save up enough money [to purchase new gear] could be too late if something were to happen now with the old gear we have,” said Chief Lin Newton of Valley View Volunteer Fire Department, adding “The ability to receive new gear [through MSA’s and DuPont’s Globe Gear Giveaway] will allow us to meet the NFPA standards on gear and better protect our firefighters.”
BAFE announces that the SP207 Evacuation Alert Systems Scheme Document is now available. Supporting British Standard 8629 (Evacuation Alert Systems for use by fire and rescue services in buildings containing flats), the BAFE SP207 Scheme document covers demonstrating quality evidence of competency for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of evacuation alert systems. Emergency evacuation system Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government published their outcome to the consultation regarding sprinklers and other fire safety measures in new high-rise blocks of flats in May 2020. Within this document an overwhelming 92% of respondents agreed that Approved Document B should include a requirement for an emergency evacuation system (which could support fire and rescue services operational response by alerting residents if they need to escape). The document added that “Several respondents noted that an evacuation alert system being in place would provide both clarity and reassurance to residents.” Providing confidence to specifiers Quality evidence of competency is going to have far greater scrutiny for everyone working in high-rise blocks" Chris Auger, Director of Schemes – BAFE, said: “The demand shown following the MHCLG consultation is unprecedented and represents a far greater awareness of systems and competency of their installers required following the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower Fire. With the work BAFE have performed in conjunction with the industry and Fire and Rescue Service, we are pleased to release this document and offer a route to achieving this important Third Party Certification. Quality evidence of competency is going to have far greater scrutiny for everyone working in high-rise blocks in the very near future which can only be a good thing. This scheme will fill this crucial gap in providing confidence to specifiers knowing they are fulfilling their due diligence and continuing the ‘golden thread’ of accountability for the life safety of residents within the building.” BAFE SP207 Scheme Document Chris adds “The expanding portfolio of BAFE Schemes represents the necessity of quality evidence of competency required for niche but extremely important areas of the industry. Third Party Certification is going to be a key focus of attention for the built environment moving forward and BAFE need to position itself to offer schemes that are both needed and, reflect the current concerns of occupants, regulators, service providers and building owners/managers.” The BAFE SP207 Scheme Document (For the Design, Installation, Commissioning & Maintenance of Evacuation Alert Systems) and information on the Certification Bodies who are offering this assessment is available via the BAFE website.
Vimpex Ltd, Europe’s independent manufacturer of fire alarm ancillaries, has added a Fire Door Coordinator - which ensures that a pair of self-closing fire doors will always close in the correct sequence, enabling each door leaf to shut fully, and help to maintain the fire integrity of the doors - to its door holder product range. If double fire doors don’t close in the correct sequence they will not close in the middle and leave a gap for dangerous smoke and gases to pass through. Self-closing double doors controller This is particularly important for fire-rated doors and self-latching security doors as it maintains the doors seal thus eliminating the need for human intervention. COVID-19 has presented many challenges for businesses, one of these being able to reduce the risk of infection in the workplace which sometimes leaves businesses no choice but to leave fire doors open, increasing the risk of self-closing double doors to fall out of sequence. The fire door coordinator can be used on both fire rated and non-fire rated door sets and has a wide range of finishes. It is a smart and discrete product which is easy for the installer to fit and for the end-user to maintain.
The importance of firefighter health has received increased media attention in recent times, and rightly so. Following Covid-19 more emphasis is now being placed on hygiene and disinfection, which I believe will be one positive outcome of this pandemic. A significant cultural change has been a long time coming to take us away from firefighters wearing dirty kit as a badge of honor that proves their hard work and value, to understanding that clean and well maintained kit supported by detailed and robust hygiene processes that mitigate every contact with contaminants are essential. Firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens Prior to Covid-19, the media were also reporting more regularly on the very real issue of firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens, an issue when embedded in equipment and absorbed. Cancer has been highlighted in some scientific reports to be the leading cause of death among firefighters, with the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) reporting that cancer caused nearly two out of three (61%) firefighter line-of-duty deaths between 2002 and 2017. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) also found that in the US, firefighters had a 14 percent higher chance of dying of cancer compared to the general population. The results of these reports need to be underpinned by robust medical research to reflect the landscape, culture, current standards and operational practices for Fire Services in the UK. Cancer caused nearly two out of three (61%) firefighter line-of-duty deaths between 2002 and 2017 While these shocking statistics are relatively well known, not enough has been done to force a change. Manufacturers of medical and safety technology products have a responsibility to innovate solutions that support change. To this end, Dräger’s Health for the Firefighter campaign complements our training programmes and communicates the importance of detailed hygiene processes; from the handling and storage of masks and breathing apparatus equipment through to the subsequent cleaning of the kit after an incident has occurred. Training is the first and crucial step in guiding a cultural shift, and ultimately protecting the health and well-being of our firefighters. Using technology, research and innovation It’s important that training programmes reflect the fact that fire services are the experts – they have the experience and understand what solutions are practical. It is therefore our role to use technology, research and innovation to ensure we work together as partners with applied training helping to create a robust consistency in approach as well as providing a safe environment to train. Dräger’s training is typically split into three areas: Training systems - these encompass mobile or fixed training facilities that enable state-of-the-art training so firefighters can experience real fires or extrication scenarios in a safe environment including compartment fire behavior training (CFBT). At Dräger they include a vast portfolio of potential fire and rescue environments, including petrochemical plants, hospitals, schools, high-rise buildings, vehicles, aircraft and subway stations; Technical training - providing comprehensive know-how on the maintenance and repair of equipment – from mechanical and electronic components through to cleaning and disinfection; Fitness training – providing equipment to help ensure that firefighters are prepared for the physical challenges that come with the job and can be tested and monitored to improve their safety. The science and behavior of a fire and its contaminants Training has come a long way from when it centred simply around exposure to hot temperatures often referred to as ‘burn to learn’. It is now about much more than protecting a firefighter from becoming burnt, but rather teaching the science and behavior of a fire and its contaminants, not only to support fire and rescue operations, but also to protect the firefighter’s own health. While Covid-19 is driving improvements in this regard, what is more difficult is helping fire services to realize that technical training on the cleaning and hygiene processes related to kit is just as important to firefighter health. Consistent and robust hygiene processes are also about technology. While manual cleaning of equipment is still generally the norm, there are many fire services that are moving towards mechanical washing systems, which provide complete consistency in washing temperatures, the amount of detergent used, speed and temperature of drying – which can all work together to disinfect contaminants and to protect the longevity of the kit. Training and support around these systems encompasses the entire purchasing and use life cycle; from helping to build business cases for procurement and logistical installation support, to advice on the exact processes a firefighter should take when leaving a scene and returning to the station. Support also encompasses the ongoing maintenance of equipment and the quantity of stock required. An international look at hygiene and infection control Consistent and robust hygiene processes are also about technology Despite such advances, the UK is still behind other countries in terms of our hygiene and infection control practices. Netherlands and Sweden, for example, are two European countries leading the way in shifting the mindset and using mechanical washing equipment supported by improved logistics for managing and tracking PPE and RPE more widely. For these countries, stringent hygiene practices are commonplace and are not just about fighting cancer or the current pandemic, but also about protecting firefighters and support staff from more day-to-day illnesses such as flu, common colds, cold sores and other communicable illnesses. Within Dräger, my role includes advising on these best-practice examples and new equipment technologies – working with our UK-based manufacturing facility and R&D departments to ensure they are designed with the firefighter in mind, and working with Fire Services, Government and other key stakeholders to help drive improvements to further protect our crews. Having manufactured advanced technology solutions for the Fire Services for more than 115 years, Dräger has the experience and technological know-how to support this necessary change in how we think about equipment, its cleaning, and ultimately how to apply technology and training to make our firefighters safer.
Last year saw a 14 per cent increase in fires in England, according to UK Home Office statistics. And while around three million fire doors are installed in the UK every year, a lack of understanding during operation, maintenance and management of fire doors is still apparent. In this article, David Hindle, Head of Door Closer Sales at ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions UK & Ireland, will address this issue. Importance of fire doors Fire doors are often the first line of defense in a fire, yet even after the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, fire door hardware remains a significant area of concern. In May 2018, an Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, led by dame Judith Hackitt, have been published. The review highlighted a range of issues, but the message stood clear, the UK’s current approach to fire safety in buildings is not functioning as intended and a new, holistic approach to fire safety is required. Review of fire inspections In all fire inspections, there is a responsibility from the building owner to include checks on the fire doors In all fire inspections, there is a responsibility from the building owner to include checks on the fire doors. However, there is no legal requirement for them to complete any recommended upgrades or repairs, or to prove that they have done so. This represents a major problem, as doors that do not perform to the required standard could compromise a building’s safety and put occupants at risk. Ultimately, this could lead to liability being assigned back to the building owner or facilities manager. Need to maintain fire safety standards Fire safety is only properly maintained if standards and checks are carried out throughout the lifecycle of the product and building. This is best addressed through regular inspection, maintenance and the replacement of products when required. A review by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme revealed the most common fire door faults, ranging from missing fire or smoke seals, to unsuitable hinges and damage to the door leaf itself. Any one of these issues can render a fire door useless and can seriously impede a door’s capability to protect people from harm. Door leaf and frame maintenance Fire door hardware is often not afforded the attention it requires and is left mismanaged throughout its service life. So what needs to be done to ensure fire door hardware is working as expected? Naturally, the door leaf should not be damaged, warped or twisted, and it is vital to ensure the fire door closes correctly around all parts of the frame, with no distortion between the stiles, top and frame. Gaps between the door and leaf must not be greater than those specified in the manufacturer’s installation instructions or fire certificate data sheet, typically around 3 to 4mm all the way round. Importance of door closers A door closer ensures a fire door returns to its fully closed position and the door seals correctly in the door frame A door closer ensures a fire door always returns to its fully closed position and makes sure that the door seals correctly in the door frame, when not in use. There are three steps to ensuring these components are working correctly. First, open the door fully and check that it closes without dragging across the floor. Next, open it to approximately 5-10 degrees and again check that it fully closes, engaging any latch or seal. Finally, check the door closing speed is approximately five seconds from a 90 degree angle, ensuring the door does not slam shut. Intumescent fire and smoke seals Fire and smoke seals should be in good condition, fit the full length of the door and be secure in the groove. If seals are badly fitted, damaged or painted, then they must be replaced with exactly the same size and intumescent material that was originally specified. If the smoke seals have to be replaced, then they should be fitted in one continuous length, if possible. To ensure hinges are in good condition, check for visible wear, dark marks or stains around the hinge knuckle that could indicate wear and impending failure. Hinges must be strong enough to carry the door mass, plus robust enough to work efficiently no matter the level of usage. The hinges should be firmly screwed into the door and frame, ensuring that the seals at the top and sides of the door are not damaged or missing at any time. Intumescent pads should also be used with hinges, as these are required for the door to get its appropriate fire rating. Locks and lever handles To measure a handle’s condition, one needs to ensure the lock lever fully returns to a horizontal position after use Wiping any metal dust deposits off the handles will help ensure that the latch-bolt is engaging smoothly and completely into the keep during use. To measure a handle’s condition, one needs to ensure the lock lever fully returns to a horizontal position after use. If it does not, the lever may, at best, need adjusting or lubricating. At worst, it may need replacing, as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Again, ensure the lock case is protected by intumescent material. Maintaining record of fire door inspection No matter the component, a record of inspection and maintenance should be kept for all door hardware. Furthermore, those responsible for ensuring the fire safety of a site should encourage others to report any issues with any of the door components. Faults should be fixed as soon as possible, using the correct and fire-rated components. To check the compatibility of components, always consult the fire certificate data sheet or contact the manufacturer.
Every day, across the globe, emergency services teams come to people’s aid no matter the situation to ensure their safety. Whether it’s during a natural disaster, or at a significant event, the emergency services are on hand to face any challenge that comes their way. When supporting this crucial workforce, it is essential that they have robust and reliable connectivity. Technology is becoming a vital aspect of public safety and security worldwide, and this trend is only likely to grow. For these new devices to work effectively, full-scale coverage must be in place, and when it comes to people’s safety, there is no room for error. The need for redundancy and high bandwidth Two of the paramount tools at emergency services disposal are video surveillance and communication devices. Constant visibility and communication are often essential to protecting people and saving lives. The benefits range from providing first responders with a clear picture and understanding of the situation they are about to encounter; to providing greater safety during public events by enabling officers to control crowds and manage traffic effectively. Enhancing visibility and sharing information is particularly crucial during fires to guide firefighters and vehicles through flames and smoke, and to allow the central command center to organize resources effectively. Technology is becoming a vital aspect of public safety and security worldwide, and this trend is only likely to grow Despite any potential challenges ensuring network connectivity may create, public safety organizations cannot compromise when it comes to optimizing security. For IP video surveillance and cellphone broadband connectivity to operate effectively, they require redundancy and high bandwidth. Without these connectivity attributes, devices become useless; for example, there are municipalities where as much as 50 percent of the camera network is offline because of poor product choices and inferior network design and installation. Equally, poor quality networking can be just as limiting as it can lead to public safety organizations being unable to receive real-time data. All areas must also have adequate bandwidth to access data, such as on-scene video, aerial imagery, maps, and images, and many existing public safety networks do not have that capacity. Supporting security and safety robotics Robots and drones have seen a considerable increase in popularity this year, with 60 million such machines being deployed according to ABI Research. They offer a wealth of potential to emergency services teams, whether on land, air, or sea. For example, water rescue robots can go where humans cannot, earthquake and fire robots can search through otherwise non-navigable areas, and drones can survey vast regions. However, for these wireless devices to work effectively, they rely on many features. They need low power consumption so as not to heavily burden the onboard power source of the robotic device and, perhaps, a high level of encryption so information cannot be stolen or hacked. There are also benefits to security and safety as robotic devices can communicate with one another peer-to-peer. Directly mounting radios to robots and drones, fosters dynamic self-learning, data sharing, and more wireless paths in the event one or more of the devices in an area do not have a link to fixed infrastructure. Water rescue robots can go where humans cannot, earthquake and fire robots can search through otherwise non-navigable areas, and drones can survey vast regions The main component that security and safety robotics require is redundant and resilient connections. If the connection is lost, the connected device will go into “safe” mode and stop. Creating a high capacity network that supports mobile devices in complex and fast-moving environments is not a simple task. In many cases, it requires a network that supports many wireless connections and allows for many paths in and out, so that if a link is lost, another path is available for data transmission and reception. This type of network is the best way to ensure that police, firefighters, and emergency units can access and send large amounts of data from wherever they are and in real-time making a massive difference to the efficiency of the emergency services. An example of this is Rajant’s private Kinetic Mesh® network, a wireless network ensuring no single point of failure. It offers reliable, intelligent, and secure wireless broadband connectivity that survives and thrives in evolving and mobility-driven environments. It forms a “living” mesh network that can move with and adapt to the evolving communication requirements of public safety organizations. Technology in action Back in October 2019, the heat from the sun, combined with winds gusting through the foothills of El Capitán Canyon in California, sparked a bush fire in the overly dry, desert hills. Despite four hundred and twenty acres being burnt, firefighters used their experience and skills combined with newfound digital technology to ensure that no structures were damaged, and there were no reported injuries. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Cal Fire, the U.S Forest Service, and other agencies were immediately dispatched to contain the fire. More than 200 firefighters were needed to combat the fire and reinforce containment lines with helicopters and drones in the air and bulldozers on the ground. To operate this equipment, mesh radio nodes, bonded cellular, and satellite technologies were used to link the communication gap in locations where signals are often dropped. Rajant BreadCrumb® nodes were mounted to the fire-breaking, 30-ton bulldozers manned by trained firefighters to uproot vegetation and eliminate the materials that would further spread the fire. Robots and drones have seen a considerable increase in popularity this year, with 60 million such machines being deployed The reliable connectivity allowed the bulldozers to not only easily communicate with each other and the base, but also to send video footage and data to the tactical truck and central command post over cellular and SAT networks. This situational awareness data transfer allowed for greater efficiency, as well as increased safety for the public and the firefighters. Reliability when you need it most Reliable connectivity solutions are being embraced across the emergency services due to the innumerable benefits they bring to ensuring the safety of the public. For police, firefighters, and emergency units, dependable connectivity allows for rapid, real-time response, and the use of technology can save lives in ways that wouldn’t have seemed possible a decade ago. Planned and unplanned events can benefit from the new technology being introduced, and emergency services need to make sure they have the network capabilities to support them. For environments that are challenging and hostile, this requires a network available on-demand, which can withstand the demands of harsh conditions and mobility while maintaining a level of redundancy and high bandwidth that allows for accessing and sending large amounts of data from any location.
Fire extinguishers are red for a reason, aren’t they? Traditionally, red is associated with danger and fire and red is certainly easy to see, even in darker environments. Aesthetic fire extinguishers But a company in Japan is offering a line of fire extinguishers that abandons the signature color for an approach that is more aesthetically pleasing and that fits more easily into modern decor. Disaster prevention brand, Modular Aerial Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) has unveiled fire extinguishers that are black or white, thus defying convention and better harmonizing with a variety of living spaces. The Japanese company, Morita Miyata Corp. has been making fire extinguishers for more than 100 years The Japanese company, Morita Miyata Corp. has been making fire extinguishers for more than 100 years. Their new sleek, minimalist fire extinguishers have won a Good Design Good Focus Award in the category of disaster prevention and recovery design. The award celebrates outstanding works designed for the prevention of and recovery from natural disasters. Disaster preparedness The concept is to ‘Take Bosai into the lifestyle’ (Bosai is disaster preparedness in Japanese). Beyond aesthetics, there is a practical reason to make the lowly fire extinguisher blend more seamlessly with a room’s decor. The reason is that prettier fire extinguishers encourage consumers to place the extinguisher proudly out in the open, where it is within easier reach to use quickly if needed. The minimal and attractive design allows the fire extinguisher to be placed in a more visible, high profile place in homes, without the ‘harsh’ red interfering with the interior decor. Consumers are prompted to enter the date of purchase and expiration date on the fire extinguisher’s body. Higher effectiveness of fire extinguishers in visible spots In short, fire extinguishers can be more effective if they are not hidden away in a closet or cupboard where valuable seconds are lost locating them in case of a fire. The idea is to unify style and function. Obviously, style is an undervalued element in the entire fire industry, given the affinity for less subtle use of red evident in everything from fire apparatus to web site names. Breaking traditional conventions Abandoning tradition may be creative, but don’t years of convention complicate the concept of changing the color of emergency equipment? For example, in the case of fire extinguishers, although primarily red, they also use color-coded labels to designate their type, such as blue for dry powder, yellow for wet chemical, etc. Also, fire pull stations, for example, are red, but pull stations for police emergencies may be blue instead. The colors have meaning that is understood to building occupants. Therefore, using new colors in public buildings could cause confusion, even if they contribute positively to the aesthetics of an expensive office suite, for example. Extending the concept of ‘Kanso’ to fire extinguishers Extending the concept of 'Kanso' to fire extinguishers has promise, as long as design does not interfere with safety The Japanese interior design concept of ‘Kanso’ is all about simplicity and focuses on the flow and movement of energy in a space. The concept seeks to eliminate clutter from a home and to show restraint and simplicity in every aspect of design. Extending the concept of 'Kanso' to fire extinguishers has promise, as long as design simplicity does not interfere with safety. The Good Design award jury states, “The simple modification of changing the color of the fire extinguisher to black and white is a big step forward in creating harmony with the living space.” Changes in style of fire apparatus and firefighting equipment The jury adds, “There has been a preconceived notion that fire extinguishers must be red in order to grab visual attention. We have just accepted fire extinguishers to be red because that is the way they are. Maybe an innovation like this can happen in other areas. The fact that the development of this product could lead to changing many other preconceptions we have was another important factor for the award.” Should everyone be looking for ‘Kanso’ to make its way soon to fire stations? Might a more positive flow of energy contribute to more relaxed and effective firefighters? Should fire apparatus colors be coordinated with station decor? Could it be that stylish fire extinguishers are only the beginning? These are some of the important questions in the development of new fire extinguishers and other firefighting equipment.
During the Grenfell Tower fire incident in 2017, ineffective fire doors allowed smoke and toxic gases to spread through the building more quickly than should have been possible. Sir Martin Moore-Bick made this finding in the conclusion to Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. It serves to highlight the importance that fire doors play in protecting life and property. Grenfell Inquiry findings The Grenfell Inquiry findings have impacted subsequent United Kingdom government guidance and proposed legislation. For example, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) insists that non-fire resisting doors should be replaced immediately with door sets that are third party certified as providing at least 30 minutes of fire resistance. The BWF works to increase ‘mass market’ awareness of the vital role that fire doors play in protecting life and property The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) works to increase ‘mass market’ awareness of the vital role that fire doors play in protecting life and property. The BWF sponsored Fire Door Safety Week (21-27 Sept. 2020) in partnership with the UK Home Office’s National Fire Safety Campaign, the National Fire Chiefs Council and London Fire Brigade. The observance is the brainchild of the British Woodworking Federation, supported by the BWF Fire Door Alliance. Importance of fire doors in protecting life and property While there are multiple types of fire doors available, certified timber fire doors were subjected to government fire tests in 2019 and were shown effective at meeting and exceeding the minimum burn time requirement of 30 minutes. Factors to ensure a fire door performs as intended include product manufacture, quality, installation and maintenance. Correctly specifying, maintaining and managing a fire door can mean the difference between life and death for building occupants in an emergency. Appointing ‘Responsible Person’ to inspect fire doors Everyone plays a role to ensure a fire door performs as intended, from the manufacturer to a building’s users. Building owners should appoint a ‘Responsible Person’ to check the performance of fire doors. Propping open a fire door keeps it from performing as intended in the event of a fire. Fire doors and other passive fire protection industries have common interests with other fire-related organizations. More education can help the whole building industry and every property owner to understand the importance of fire doors. Regular inspection of fire doors Owners should carry out checks at three-month intervals to ensure all fire doors are fitted with effective self-closing devices Sir Martin Moore-Bick also recommended that those who have responsibility for entrance doors to individual flats in high-rise building should be required by law to ensure such doors comply with current standards. Owners and managers of any residential building that contains separate dwellings should carry out an urgent inspection of all fire doors to ensure they comply with applicable standards. Owners and managers should also be required to carry out checks at three-month intervals to ensure all fire doors are fitted with effective self-closing devices that are in working order. Raising standard of fire doors via Third party certification Third party certification is the best way to raise the standard of fire doors and fire door sets across the board to ensure all fire doors in any building type meet safety standards. Also, inspections should be carried out by trained and registered professionals who identify any faults and highlight where doors do not meet standards. Doors in high-traffic areas should be checked more frequently as they are more susceptible to damage.
An explosion of blue-colored smoke on Sept. 5, 2020 in Yucalpa, California, was the beginning of a large wildfire in El Dorado Ranch Park. The pyrotechnic device was essentially a smoke bomb designed to send plumes of pink or blue smoke rising into the air, designating the gender of an expected baby. The expectant dad had packed the target with a highly explosive substance called Tannerite and shot it with a high-powered rifle. The target was designed to explode in pink or blue to reveal whether the couple was expecting a boy or a girl. Flammable foliage When the device ignited, so did the dry, wild grasses growing up to 4 feet tall in the meadow at the park, 80 miles east of Los Angeles. In the peak of summer, Southern California foliage is extremely flammable, and there were already fires burning across the state. After being active for 11 days, the fire had affected 18,506 acres and was 63% contained. The family that sparked the fire sought to put down the flames using water bottles. Then they called 911. The responsible individuals were still at the park when firemen arrived, and there are also surveillance cameras. Wildfire Spread And Evacuation The fire spread from the park to the north on to Yucalpa Ridge that separates Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls from the City of Yucalpa. The fire threatened a nearby residential neighborhood, and some 21,000 people were evacuated. After being active for 11 days, the fire had affected 18,506 acres and was 63% contained. The pyrotechnic show was a variation on the popular trend of gender reveal parties, which seek to announce the gender of an expected infant in increasingly (and competitively) colorful and/or dramatic ways. The parties are often featured prominently on social media. Rising temperatures Also contributing to the fire was recent weather in California, whose terrain was scorching in record-breaking temperatures as high as 120 degrees F in early September. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire) reminds the public that, with the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it does not take much to start a wildfire, and those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible. Natural conditions and human activity Natural conditions are central to causing wildfires, although human activity can provide the triggers Natural conditions are central to causing wildfires, although human activity can provide the triggers, including downed power lines, sparks from tire blowouts, and barbecues that get out of control. The pivotal gender-reveal part is just the latest example. If not for the increasingly dry and scorched conditions that make wildfire so easy to ignite, such human events would be much less consequential. With thousands of acres of wildfire raging across California, the cause of one wildfire seems less important in the overall scheme of things. However, the event does emphasize how seemingly minor events can have a very large impact. Lightning and fireworks Another cause of recent wildfires was lightning with more than 10,000 lightning strikes sparking 376 fires on Aug 16 and 17, 2020. In a season of wildfires, use of fireworks, for whatever reason, is a particular risk. Fireworks cause an average of 18,500 fires each year in the United States. Of those, about 1,200 injuries are from less powerful devices such as small firecrackers and sparklers.
C-TEC’s revolutionary Hush Pro BS 5839-6 Grade C domestic fire detection and alarm system has been chosen for three iconic tower block developments in Manchester, United Kingdom. Located in the center of Piccadilly, Oxygen Towers is a striking set of three new 31-storey, 16-storey and 10-storey buildings consisting of 345 stylish 1, 2 and 3-bedroomed apartments and 12 spacious family townhouses. Protecting futuristic ‘vertical village’ Designed to provide the ultimate living experience, the futuristic ‘vertical village’ combines luxury accommodation with fabulous five-star leisure facilities including a swimming pool, cinema, gym and spa. The stunning development also features lush garden terraces and rooftop gardens. Selected for its cutting-edge technology and capacity to align with the building’s fire strategy, Hush Pro will integrate with the site’s BS 5839 part 1 landlord system to offer higher levels of fire protection than the Grade D unmonitored battery alarm systems, typically used in domestic installations. Hush Pro BS 5839-6 Grade C fire detection and alarm system As a fully-monitored BS 5839 part 6 Grade C system, Hush Pro reports open and short circuit faults As a fully-monitored BS 5839 part 6 Grade C system, Hush Pro reports open and short circuit faults and operation faults back to the fire panel and even allows management and maintenance companies to remotely monitor the system. Once the project is complete, each of the flats will feature an easily accessible low-level Hush Pro Controller connected to a series of Hush Pro smoke detectors, base sounders, multi-sensors and heat detectors all seamlessly interfaced to a powerful network of C-TEC 4-loop ZFP addressable fire control panels to provide all-encompassing fire and fault monitoring of the system. Enhancing fire safety management If, for any reason, part of the domestic fire alarm is compromised, this will immediately be reported to the building management team to allow them to action the fault and re-instate full fire detection coverage to the flat. John Blundell, Head of Solid State Security Ltd (Solid State Living), the specialist fire company involved with the design and delivery of the project, said “As well as enhancing the fire safety management, property and life protection of the buildings, a key factor in our client’s decision to invest in Hush Pro was the system’s ability to notify building management in the event of a real fire and, at the same time, its potential to virtually eliminate false alarms.” Reducing false fire alarms He adds, “Hush Pro’s unique capacity to differentiate between Fire Level 1, usually a false alarm reported locally in the dwelling, and Fire Level 2, almost always a real alarm activated outside of the dwelling, reduces false fire alarms, unnecessary call-outs and the risk of a real fire alarm being ignored. As our client requires immediate notification in the event of a fire but also first-class false alarm management, Hush Pro will prove ideal.” John further stated, “Also of vital importance to our client is that, as the project consists of private balconies with an open plan flat arrangement, Hush Pro is the only fire alarm solution that can actually meet the requirements of BS 9991 Annex D3.” Hush Pro’s powerful false alarm management capability will also prove invaluable at the site" Jason Lawler, 24-7 Group’s Group Director and the person responsible for delivering the electrical and mechanical systems for the project, said “Hush Pro is an outstanding solution. The system will provide residents with easy-to-use detection, alarm, silencing and test facilities so they can test their own devices, be alerted to system faults and hush any false alarms at the Hush Button, which is positioned at light-switch level for safe and easy access. Hush Pro’s powerful false alarm management capability will also prove invaluable at the site.” Integrated BS 5839 part 1 and part 6 fire alarm solutions John Blundell said, “Client satisfaction is incredibly important to us so we were delighted to be able to specify a robust and fully-compliant integrated BS 5839 part 1 and part 6 fire alarm solutions for Oxygen Towers.” He concludes, “With its capacity to provide high levels of fire protection yet also minimize costly and disruptive false alarms, Hush Pro is fast becoming the system of choice for fire strategy engineers and consultants dedicated to enhancing fire safety in high-rise residential and specialist housing projects throughout the UK.”
When Thames Valley Air Ambulance’s Helicopter Emergency Medics became concerned about their current helmet due to its obsolescence and poor comfort, the charity contacted Vimpex who they were aware had successfully supplied helmet solutions to other Air Ambulance Services, including Lincolnshire and Kent. Pacific R6C Rescue Helmet Following meetings to identify product performance requirements, and a product trial by critical care paramedics and doctors, Thames Valley Air Ambulance chose the Pacific R6C Paramedic/Rescue Helmet because it gives the charity a high-performing, future-proofed safety solution that can also be fully customized. Every part of the Pacific R6C Paramedic/Rescue Helmet can be quickly removed without the use of special tools" Vimpex Business Development Manager Steve Clelland explains, “Every part of the Pacific R6C Paramedic/Rescue Helmet can be quickly and easily removed without the use of special tools. Cost of ownership is therefore minimized as repairs and replacement of all components is simple. Pacific helmets are tested in the most extreme conditions required for conformity to relevant clauses of the latest EN standards.” High performance PPE equipment The fantastic life-saving work carried out by Thames Valley Air Ambulance when there’s a life-threatening injury or medical emergency, and relies on the skill and bravery of its team of doctors and critical care paramedics, some of the most highly skilled pre-hospital medics in the world, to deliver advanced trauma care to some of the most seriously injured patients across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire from its base at RAF Benson. Such exceptional individuals, who regularly put their own safety on the line to protect others, need the highest levels of equipment performance, including their head protection PPE, to ensure that their well-being is never compromised. Fire evacuation and alarm systems major Vimpex is Europe's renowned independent manufacturer and distributor of high quality fire evacuation and alarm system products for installers, distributors and OEM manufacturers. The company is also a specialist in the supply of technical rescue and PPE equipment for UK fire, rescue, police, military and emergency services teams.
Cadiz Fire Brigade in Spain has recently taken delivery of new, state-of-the-art fire kit supplied by Bristol Uniforms, a globally renowned designer and manufacturer of protective clothing for emergency services across the globe. The contract was secured through Bristol’s international distributor, El Corte Ingles, who fought off stiff competition to secure the four-year contract. Ergonomic XFlex design Cadiz has ordered 780 sets of Bristol’s lightweight, ergonomic XFlex design (called FireFlex in Spain), with integrated safety harnesses incorporated into the jacket and trouser. The kit has a Hainsworth TITAN1250 outer, a highly breathable fabric featuring Nomex and a high percentage of Kevlar, which gives the fabric outstanding tensile and tear strength. In addition, it has a GORE-TEX FIREBLOCKER moisture barrier, which is made from a micro-porous breathable fabric that stops water passing through to the firefighter’s personal clothing, whilst allowing sweat to escape and reducing heat stress. Four-year care and maintenance contract To ensure health and safety of its firefighters, Cadiz Fire Brigade has opted for a four-year care and maintenance contract To further protect the health and safety of its firefighters, Cadiz Fire Brigade has opted for a four-year care and maintenance contract, so as to ensure that the kit is kept in good condition and free from contamination. Total Safety manages all Bristol’s garment care and maintenance in Spain and has worked with Bristol for more than 25 years. It collects soiled garments from customers and returns them clean and repaired within 72 hours. Featuring integrated safety harness Paco Griso, Bristol Uniform’s agent in Spain, said “The new kit has now been rolled out to firefighters in the Province of Cadiz and we are already getting positive feedback from them. They are really pleased with how flexible the kit is and how easy it to maneuver in tight spaces. The integrated harnesses, certified to EN 361, are an additional safety feature which will help prevent serious falls in fire and recuse situations.” Richard Cranham, International Sales Manager at Bristol Uniforms, said “This is a large contract for us in Spain, which was delivered on time, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As the risks of wearing contaminated PPE have become ever more apparent, more and more fire and rescue services across the globe are opting for ongoing care and maintenance packages, so as to ensure their PPE is free of carcinogens and the health of their crew is prioritized.”
A network of fire panels from UK manufacturer, Advanced, has been installed as part of a campus-wide system replacement at the Imperial College London (ICL), Hammersmith, United Kingdom. Six industry-renowned 8-loop MxPro 5 fire panels and a TouchControl remote control terminal and repeater panel have been installed across the Wolfson Education Center, the Institute of Reproductive Development Biology and the Commonwealth Building at Imperial College London’s Hammersmith campus. 8-loop MxPro 5 fire panels The installation, part of a system-wide upgrade, was conducted by Surrey-based Lloret Fire & Security Ltd who were tasked with replacing the existing fire alarm control panels, installing new cabling and devices and commissioning the system across occupied buildings, where live coverage needed to be maintained at all times. Imperial specifically requested a move away from the closed protocol fire system approach, and its associated service charges, which had been in operation for 15 years. Lloret Fire & Security’s experience installing Advanced control indicating equipment in other large-scale educational facilities meant they were confident that the open protocol MxPro 5 could easily provide the levels of flexibility and stability required by the site. Multi-sensor detection system installed Paul White, Design Director at Lloret Fire & Security Ltd, said “The project at Imperial’s Hammersmith campus involved the replacement of the fire system across a range of building environments, from offices, workshops and research labs, through to lecture theaters and conference halls, each with its own specific fire protection requirements.” Multi-sensor detection system was installed to manage and reduce the risk of false alarms In consideration of the site’s false alarm management strategy, multi-sensor detection system was installed to manage and reduce the risk of false alarms. For example, detectors have been configured for day/night use or can be altered as area usage changes. TouchControl repeater panel installed To replace the existing flush-fitted panel positioned front-of-house in the reception area of the Institute of Reproductive Development Biology, and for aesthetic purposes, Lloret Fire & Security Ltd suggested installing Advanced’s touch technology remote control terminal and repeater panel, TouchControl. Combining aesthetics with practicality, the low-profile, high-resolution touchscreen makes it easy to check fire system status via interactive maps and zone plans, while complementing even the most stylish interiors. When in standby mode, administrators can use TouchControl to display branding, advertisements and information, while it will instantly revert to fire operation when a fire condition occurs. Advanced fire safety solutions Amanda Hope, UK Business Development Manager, said “It’s fantastic to see that our partners Lloret Fire & Security Ltd are so confident in the Advanced solutions installed at Imperial. When installing or upgrading a building’s fire system, it’s important to consider which protocol is right for you." Amanda adds, “The nature of our MxPro 5’s open protocol gives end users greater freedom and flexibility over key factors such as detector partners, suppliers, installers and service companies. This in turn helps the end user to more easily achieve best value for money and access top-quality expertise.”
C-TEC’s new Hush ActiV BS 5839-6 Grade C domestic fire alarm systems are providing top-grade fire protection at several Ministry of Defense-managed residential properties in North Wales. Located on the banks of the Menai Strait, the stretch of shallow tidal water that separates Angelsey from the mainland, the spacious homes are part of The Joint Service Mountain Training Centre Indefatigable, a facility designed to provide affordable holiday accommodation for members of the Armed Forces and their families. Each of the three-bedroomed properties is equipped with Hush ActiV smoke detectors in the entrance hall and stairs, a heat detector in the kitchen and sounder beacons in the bedrooms, all connected to a Hush ActiV controller. With its easy-to-operate low level controller, the system offers simple detection, alarm, silencing and test facilities at light-switch level - occupants simply press ‘HUSH’ on the controller to silence an unwanted alarm. Fire protection and minimal false fire alarms Said Darren Morrell, Director of Olympian Fire, the specialist installation company that completed the project: “Our client required a system that would provide the families staying in the properties with the highest levels of fire protection and minimal false fire alarms. We specified Hush ActiV, a high-quality cost-effective fully-monitored BS 5839-6 Grade C solution, as it offers greater levels of protection than the unmonitored battery alarm Grade D systems typically used in these properties and virtually eliminates false alarms." “Hush ActiV is a fantastic option for domestic dwellings that don’t require all-out conventional fire alarm systems. Our client is delighted and the success of the project has led to C-TEC’s more sophisticated Hush Pro domestic fire solution being specified at some other MoD facilities where connection to a communal/landlord system is required.”
Infographics has announced that Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) is the first UK FRS to adopt the new FireWatch Bi-directional Mobilization Interface, with other services expected to deploy this functionality in the near future. FireWatch Mobilization Interface The FireWatch Bi-directional Mobilization Interface with Capita Vision is designed to enable greater real-time data sharing between the FireWatch Fire Service Management Platform, Capita Vision Mobilization System and on-appliance Mobile Data Terminals. HFRS already utilizes the FireWatch platform for integrated human resource management The Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) already utilizes the FireWatch platform for integrated human resource management, training and development, health and safety, self-service, availability management, and automated electronic payment calculations and processing for on-call staff. Data integration Workflows to integrate absenteeism, payments and other data seamlessly with their shared business center systems are also in place. This latest deployment provides a new bi-directional interface between FireWatch and Capita Vision that seamlessly couples the systems together and provides a live closed loop of data flows as changes in either occur. Colin Sutherland, Systems Manager at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS), said “This new interface is the culmination of many months’ work for Hampshire Fire and our technological partners, Infographics and Capita. The interface provides individual and appliance crewing data directly into our mobilization system, allowing our Control rooms throughout the partnership to view Hampshire’s status in real-time.” Reducing the risk of human error Colin adds, “This not only improves our resilience with the interface and reduces the risk of human error, but also reduces the burden of crews on station having to complete events after the incident, as the interface now does this for them. A further benefit is that it provides us with crewing accountability on the way to, during and returning from fire calls, which is something we have not been able to achieve before.” He further stated, “This interface is also the first step in our move towards Attribute Based Response (ABR), which we are now working towards with our partners, and the interface is a solid foundation to build upon. It has been an incredibly exciting time with the release of the interface for Hampshire, and it highlights Infographics’ hard work and dedication to continually improve and enhance their offering.” Fully integrated FRS resource management platform Russell Wood, Commercial Manager at Infographics, said “What we have delivered jointly with Hampshire and Capita is a UK first. FireWatch already provides a fully integrated FRS resource management platform with all the benefits this brings. Coupling this with a live bi-directional flow of data and impacts with Capita Vision and the MDTs essentially enables the systems to act seamlessly as one – and deliver clear operational, risk and efficiency benefits.” From FireWatch to Capita Vision, the FireWatch interface calculates vehicle availability to-the-minute, derived from live HR, contract/role, employee availability, qualifications, physical vehicle availability, and other fully-connected and integrated data and modules. So when anything changes, FireWatch pushes updated vehicle availability status in real-time to the Capita Vision Mobilization system. Up-to-the-minute data availability The up-to-the-minute data ensures that when an ‘on call’ crew turns out to an incident The system takes into account shared resources across vehicles, priority levels and skill-derived attributes and incident types, rather than a simple on/off ‘the run’, and provides that live status to Capita Vision and control room staff. The up-to-the-minute data ensures that when an ‘on call’ crew turns out to an incident, the information on the MDT is already filtered to show those who should have been available, providing quick and easy selection of the actual employees on the vehicle and the impact of their skills and resource not being available for any other vehicles at that location. In the other direction, from Capita Vision to FireWatch, this provides: Live incident creation and stage updates as they happen. Data flows from the on-appliance Mobile Data Terminals to Vision, then to FireWatch, so that FireWatch understands the specific resources involved and can send the impact back to Vision. Updates to, and impacts of, event stages, attending vehicles and personnel changes. Automatic confirmation of personnel who have turned out in FireWatch event records. Further automation of event recording steps for pay and maintenance of competency purposes.
Round table discussion
Ensuring the health and wellness of firefighters is a burden shared among equipment manufacturers as well as the fire departments and individual firefighters. Thoughtful design of equipment and other products used in the fire service can be a positive factor as firefighters and other first responders face dangerous situations every day. We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What steps can we take to better ensure firefighter health and wellness?