Tag Archives: False Alarms

Euralarm outlines content of upcoming new study on false fire alarms in Europe

Fire and Rescue Services collect facts and figures during responses to alarms from fire detection and alarm systems. Now, Euralarm has reviewed the different approaches for data collection and analysis in England, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Austria.

A key observation is the differences noted between the examined countries. These differences hamper comparisons, although a view of the European norms would suggest the opposite. Euralarm is therefore calling for more co-operation between the stakeholders involved which would enable new insights into fire alarms in general.

Buildings are safer today because of the fire detection and alarm systems installed within. Indeed, without these systems, fires would go undetected and spread. Exit routes would be impassable due to smoke and fire, resulting in injuries and even fatalities, aside from damage caused to the building(s).

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As is the case with any system, though, there are conditions that can lead to false alarms binding public and private resources as well as hurting the reputation of fire alarm and detection systems. False alarms can be reduced, for example, through the use of modern multi-sensor fire detectors as well as the regular application of correct maintenance requirements, making the systems reliable and dependable for building occupants.

In spite of such existing solutions, the market is lacking sufficient data that would outline the potential to reduce false alarms even more. An initial study by Euralarm in 2012 showed that data sources were missing and existing sources not comparable. Reliable details (eg data pools) on the range of false alarm difficulties and their causes are needed. At the moment, lack of such detail is hindering the development of a suitable basis upon which to define and deploy effective countermeasures.

The new study focuses on investigating data collection and analysis processes in order to achieve a better understanding of what needs to be done and, hopefully, will provide momentum for changes to be made.

Key observations

The review of the data collection process of transmitted alarms from fire detection and Alarm systems has been carried out by the Euralarm Task Group for False Alarms.

The project’s objective has been to analyse the specific methodologies by taking an empirical approach, with the aim of deriving a common understanding of the facts and figures collected during Fire and Rescue Services’ responses to fire alarms.

From the existing data pools, members of the Task Group then attempted to calculate the false alarm ratios based on four different models. In doing so, they then took the step of attempting a comparison between the investigated countries.

One of the observations of the review is that comparison of fire alarm figures in the respective countries is hampered by “missing alignment” in terms of common terminology and processes. A view towards the European norms would suggest the opposite, but the fact is that the application guidelines are national and these are the basis for any data collection. The analysed material recorded and collected by experts during responses to fire alarms is handled quite differently from country to country.

Lack of proper information leads to narrow or wrong measures being implemented, which is clearly detrimental to society and must be changed.

A fundamental understanding of fire alarms – and specifically false alarms – is a requirement for any attempts towards betterment. Since a common approach would (in principle) be possible, Euralarm proposes that the fire safety industry, Fire and Rescue Services and building owners work far more closely together on this matter.

*The full report will be published in Q4 2017

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EUSAS-Euralarm Fire Safety Conference focuses on R&D and standardisation

The results of cutting-edge research on fire safety were presented during a joint conference of EUSAS and Euralarm, the European research and Trade Associations in the sector. R&D’s potential impact on current and future standardisation work was a further point of focus for the event.

The joint EUSAS-Euralarm Conference took place on February 7-8 at the Berlin offices of Bosch Security Systems and determined to discover how cutting-edge innovation in the fire safety sector will drive the development of future standards and make buildings and people safer than they have ever been.

The event brought together 60 top specialists in the field of fire safety research, engineering and standardisation representing various European countries. Introducing the event were EUSAS chairman Professor Dr Andreas Czylwik, Euralarm president Enzo Peduzzi and, on behalf of the event’s host, Christoph Hampe.

The programme was divided into four sessions: false alarms, performance and quality testing, evacuation systems and fire safety in smart buildings.

As yet unpublished research on false alarms data gathered in Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland and Sweden was presented by Dr Sebastian Festag from ZVEI, the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association, and Lance Rütimann from SES, the Swiss Association of Security Product Manufacturers. Both are Euralarm delegates in the Task Group on False Alarms and have derived a common approach to an empirical analysis of false alarm data.

Wolfgang Krüll from the University of Duisburg-Essen presented reproducible testing procedures for false alarms and three new testing devices which have been developed for those procedures. In parallel, statistics from Iceland were presented by Gudmundur Gunnarsson of the MVS Iceland Construction Authority.

The problem of testing a safety device’s performance over its whole lifetime was first presented by Thomas Litterst of Hekatron, including detail of a specific testing process he has developed. As demonstrated by Thorsten Schultze from the University of Duisburg-Essen, products currently on the market are largely compliant with current standard’s requirements on age limits and could potentially function correctly well beyond.

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Raman Chagger from the Building Research Establishment in England also showed that optical smoke detectors developed in the 1980s function perfectly in modern environments.

Another matter is the mechanism of drift compensation, making up for the aging of a device and the build-up of dirt on sensors, which has the potential to delay the detection of slowly developing fires. That’s according to Florence Daniault from the Wagner Group.

Evacuation systems was the third topic. It was discussed by Dr Karl Fridolf from WSP, an engineering services group, who exposed the theoretical framework of human behaviour in situations of fire, and how behavioural aspects could be better considered in safety design.

Video fire detection and its influence on evacuation was presented by Dr Tjark Windisch from Bosch Security Systems. On the day, Dr Windisch called for greater efforts when it comes to standardising video fire detection.

The final topic, smart buildings, was first discussed by Raman Chagger from the perspective of visual alarm devices. He demonstrated how the product standard together with suitable guidelines in a code of practice needs to be based on more solid research.

Dr Peter Harris from United Technologies Corporation showed how favouring interoperability and data sharing in smart buildings could bring about ‘context-aware smoke detection’.

In a final presentation, Marc Chenevoy from Euralarm highlighted the difficulties inherent with standardising interoperable systems in smart buildings, but reported on positive progress being made within European standardisation bodies.

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VCA’s Bridge integrated with SureView’s Immix security management platform

VCA’s Bridge appliance, which instantly adds video analytics capability to any new or existing IP video surveillance camera system, has now been successfully integrated with SureView’s security management platform.

Supporting multiple camera channels, Bridge is an easy to deploy, low cost analytics appliance which is equipped with extensive back office tools to set detection zones for people and vehicles.

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Using VCA’s video analytics engine, which has been successfully deployed worldwide in over 350,000 video channels, Bridge is able to detect movement within very small areas of a video image. As such, it can provide central station operators with a powerful ‘exception’ reporting tool to help them identify suspicious activity and, when appropriate, dispatch security officers or quickly report the incident to one of the Emergency Services. 

Filtering out false alarms

Bridge is designed to meet the challenge of detecting movement in outdoor locations as it will automatically adapt to varying light conditions and can easily be fine-tuned to minimise false alarms due to, for example, rustling trees or wildlife.

It will even continue to deliver a high level of performance when cameras may be swaying due to windy conditions.

In addition to capitalising on the benefits of analytics, the deep integration achieved means that operators using the Immix platform can view live images of any incident and exercise control over PTZ cameras. Other key elements of the integration include post-alarm video recording.

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“We achieved integration between VCA’s analytics and the Immix platform some time ago and, as a result, there are many thousands of cameras worldwide that are already acting as highly effective detection devices,” said Kevin Waterhouse, executive vice-president for global sales at VCA.

“Bridge makes it even easier to introduce analytics into a security system and, most importantly, gives installers and end users alike the flexibility to use cameras that have already been installed, regardless of who the manufacturer might be.”

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Bosch Security Systems introduces AVIOTEC video-based fire detection

Bosch Security Systems has introduced AVIOTEC, a new solution for reliable and early fire detection in challenging environments.

Building upon proven Bosch camera technology and Bosch’s Intelligent Video Analysis (IVA), video-based fire detection can supplement state-of-the-art fire detection technologies and enables the early detection of smoke and flames in environments where these cannot offer satisfactory reaction times (such as buildings with high ceilings or dusty and humid areas).

AVIOTEC can also secure environments where no other solutions exist, for example saw mills or paper factories, hangars or extremely large monitoring areas.

Detect fire at the source

Using intelligent algorithms in surveillance cameras, AVIOTEC can identify smoke and flames as soon as they come into the range of the camera instead of having to wait for smoke to migrate to state-of-the-art smoke detectors.

By detecting fires at the source rather than the ceiling, cameras can issue an alarm within seconds while for point detectors it can take minutes to detect an alarm condition.

AVIOTEC is based on intelligent algorithms to distinguish between real fires and disturbance values like reflections, movements or backlights. This guarantees a very reliable detection with almost no false alarms.

AVIOTEC offers proven detection reliability in all test fires (TF1 through TF8) as specified in EN54.

The video-based fire detection system AVIOTEC scales well from a single camera to a networked system of distributed cameras with a central console and management system. Using Bosch’s Dynamic Transcoding technology, it can relay alarms to an existing fire alarm panel or transmit them via Ethernet to a monitoring centre or even a mobile device like an iPad. Receiving HD quality video images in real-time gives the firefighters a good understanding of the current situation even before they arrive on the scene.

Combining safety and security

Cameras are easy to install and require very little maintenance in contrast to state-of-the-art smoke and flame detectors.

The use of PoE cameras (Power over Ethernet) can eliminate the need for individual power supplies and power cables, making AVIOTEC even more cost efficient.

AVIOTEC can also be used for very small and distributed facilities such as power stations and signal boxes where the benefit does not justify the installation of fire panels.

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RISCO Group announces strategic partnership with CSL DualCom and unveils new HandyApp

Global integrated security solutions provider RISCO Group has announced a “pioneering” partnership with CSL DualCom. Available now, the award-winning RISCO LightSYSTM 2 and RISCO AgilityTM 3 IP/GSM panels are being supplied as standard with the DualCom WorldSIM®.

CSL DualCom is renowned for providing a platform and products that facilitate the reliable delivery of alarm signals from any protected premises to the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) – and all while reducing or eliminating any erroneous issues for ARCs and installers.

CSL DualCom’s Critical Connectivity® services negate the need for hard-wired IT infrastructure as connection to the Cloud can be achieved across IP or any mobile network using a DualCom WorldSIM®. The multi-network WorldSIM® ensures increased signal reliability and can help to reduce false alarms by up to 90%.

RISCO and CSL DualCom have entered a strategic partnership

RISCO and CSL DualCom have entered a strategic partnership

With the DualCom WorldSIM® onboard RISCO LightSYS 2 and Agility 3 IP/GSM panels, connection to RISCO Cloud is simplified and affords live video verification and access to RISCO’s advanced HandyApp (more of which anon).

Enhancing the feature set of any installation, RISCO Cloud saves time and resources via its remote-servicing capabilities of connected systems.

The WorldSIM from CSL DualCom is quick and easy to set-up. Visit: m2mconnect.csldual.com/risco and follow the registration link provided.

RISCO supports security installers with new HandyApp

RISCO Group has launched HandyApp, an app for Apple and Android devices that brings together everything an installer may need­­ – and it’s all available at their fingertips.

The first smart phone application to provide all sales and installation activities to support professional security installers, RISCO HandyApp provides comprehensive on-demand access to RISCO sales and aftercare services.

Available free-of-charge, HandyApp supports instant access to installation manuals and user guides, as well as sales materials such as product images and brochures.

To help ensure the sales and specification process is made as simple as possible, selected files may be shared with customers via an in-app share button, allowing materials to be forwarded directly via message or e-mail.

RISCO's Handy App for the iPhone

RISCO’s Handy App for the iPhone

Using the QR codes found on RISCO products and packaging, HandyApp can also be used to instantly retrieve specific product information such as part numbers and unique serial numbers. This enables fast access to product materials and easy identification of product details in the app’s Service and Support area.

Additionally, QR codes can be used to activate the Warranty Activation function. Once scanned, any RISCO product’s warranty is automatically extended by six months – increasing the warranty period to 30 months.

Power consumption, battery back-up and anti-code generator calculators are also available to assist security installers. Specified by system, they calculate if additional power supplies are required while the anti-code generator allows alarm panels to be unlocked both simply and efficiently.

The app’s Service and Support area provides a direct connection to the local RISCO support team, allowing any service or warranty queries to be answered quickly and efficiently.

For easier troubleshooting, users can also transfer images directly though the app.

*Click to download the HandyApp at no cost for mobile or tablet devices:

<Apple iOS> Links to: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/irisco/id462155789?mt=8

<Android> Links to: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.riscogroup.riscoservice.handyapp&hl=en_GB

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ADT awarded five-year security and safety contract extension by retailer Iceland

ADT has been awarded a five-year extension to its existing contract with UK food retailer Iceland. The companies have been working together since 2009 to upgrade security systems and improve safety for Iceland’s customers and staff, as well as better protect all merchandise.

Following on from successful audit results, ADT’s remit has now been extended such that the Tyco business will now provide intruder alarms, CCTV maintenance, fire and freezer monitoring solutions for all existing and new Iceland stores.

Iceland is one of the fastest-growing and most innovative food retailers in the UK with over 850 stores nationwide. In 2009, the Iceland estates team began a major project to overhaul the safety and security of its stores and, as such, appointed ADT to complete an in-depth review of the retailer’s risks and requirements.

In the five years that followed, the teams from Iceland and ADT worked together to deliver a comprehensive upgrade of the existing intruder alarm and signalling path systems. In addition, significant improvements were made in the monitoring of security alarms (including freezer alarms should a unit fail) to ensure Iceland’s assets were also better protected.

Tyco business ADT has been awarded a five-year extension to its existing contract with major UK food retailer Iceland

Tyco business ADT has been awarded a five-year extension to its existing contract with major UK food retailer Iceland

A collaborative approach was crucial with such a vast upgrade and, together, the teams from Iceland and ADT achieved a cost-effective upgrade with minimal disruption to Iceland’s staff (who needed to continue to use the systems while work continued).

In addition, as a result of the installation of Galaxy alarm systems throughout the estate – which are PD6662 compliant and recognised by UK police services – ADT was able to increase the number of Iceland stores benefiting from police response from 200 to over 800 outlets.

Improvements to safety and security

“ADT presented us with the best commercial and economic solution that could improve the safety and security of our stores,” explained Duncan Miles, head of security at Iceland. “The upgrade of our alarm panels and dual path monitoring systems – IP and GPRS – has resulted in increased protection for our stores and ensured a more robust signalling platform.”

Miles added: “The majority of false alarms and faults can be dealt with remotely, in turn negating the impact on our store teams and operation. The fact that we’ve extended our contract with ADT for a further five years is a testament to the positive results of the original work.”

As stated, ADT’s remit includes intruder, fire and freezer alarm monitoring systems as well as the maintenance of Iceland’s CCTV systems. In addition, the solution also adds value by connecting to the company’s BMS to assist with energy management and the reduction of costs.

“Ultimately,” concluded Miles, “our long-term partnership with ADT and the collaborative working methods adopted means that we are pro-actively protecting our customers, staff and assets.”

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How can retailers avoid false alarms this Christmas?

During the festive season it’s vital that retailers protect themselves against increasing cases of theft while ensuring their customer base has an enjoyable shopping experience without the inconvenience of false alarms. Brian Sims offers some top tips to ensure it’s only the Sleigh Bells that are ringing this Christmas.

Shopper traffic in the UK increases by nearly 100% between the first Saturday in November and the last couple of days before Christmas. In the same period, retailers are expected to lose an estimated £1 billion as a result of shoplifting, dishonest employees and vendor or distribution losses.

False security alarms are not only frustrating and embarrassing for consumers, but also waste valuable employee time. For retailers to protect consumers and employees from possible inconvenience, every alarm must be treated as if it’s for real. Here are some handy tips to guard against false alarms and help ensure a positive shopper experience:

Test your Electronic Article Surveillance antennas
Store employees should first ensure all antennas and security equipment are working correctly. These tests should ideally be carried out each day before the store opens.

Check your deactivation systems
One of the most frequent causes of deactivation failures for retailers often occurs because the unit isn’t plugged in correctly, or because it has been unplugged accidentally. Store employees need to make sure that all deactivation systems are plugged in and functioning as they should.

Modern deactivation systems are designed to integrate seamlessly into Point of Sale procedures, ensuring the effortless deactivation of security tags when plugged in and fully operational.

Deactivate at Point of Sale
A major cause of false alarms is tags that haven’t been correctly removed from the merchandise at the Point of Sale. Hard tags and labels need to be correctly deactivated and/or removed at the Point of Sale to avoid causing the consumer an inconvenience or delay on leaving the store.

Today’s deactivation products are designed to easily integrate at the Point of Sale, with newer solutions now offering increasingly improved detection capabilities and range. This ensures a rapid checkout for your customer and worry-free deactivation every time – no matter what the size or position of the Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) label used.

False alarms can present a huge headache for retailers

False alarms can present a huge headache for retailers

Watch out for tag pollution
Tag pollution from other stores does happen. This occurs when non-deactivated tags from other retail outlets are carried out of store by consumers, in turn causing unwanted alarms. As a result, these alarms decrease the effectiveness and integrity of installed EAS systems.

Ensure your employees are correctly trained on tag pollution as per your Head Office policies.

Be aware of metallic articles
Tagged and/or metallic articles found in the vicinity of the EAS system, such as holiday decorations and displays, can cause interference. Taking more time to consider the layout and positioning of certain types of merchandise can also reduce the frequency of false alarms.

Ensure tag applications are correct
An EAS label or hard tag not applied in the right place could pose problems for retailers during deactivation. For example, EAS labels should be positioned close to the barcode so employees don’t need to scan the merchandise twice.

By ensuring all products are universally tagged and the position of security labels is uniform, retailers can then enjoy reduced false alarms.

In addition, by streamlining product tagging (or tagging products at the point of manufacture, ie source tagging) and integrating deactivation at the checkout or when a scanner is used at the Point of Sale, retailers may prevent false alarms and keep merchandise protected without placing a significant burden on store employees.

Provide training
The effectiveness of any EAS system is largely based on how colleagues interface with it. Training for new staff and refresher sessions with existing members of the team will help keep false alarms to a minimum.

Keep a log of alarms
Keeping a log of all alarm activations will help to trace false alarms and identify whether they’re being caused by staff members or a system error.

By reducing false alarms and ensuring that EAS systems can effectively prevent theft, retailers can keep products on their shelves during the holiday season and ensure customer satisfaction and reputation is safeguarded.

Fraudsters rely on festive cheer to fleece employers

As the festive season moves into full swing, KPMG’s Priya Giuliani has warned that ‘the threat from within’ is the ghost of Christmas present.

Giuliani argues that, with many businesses in a relaxed mood, employees intent on committing fraud will try to take advantage of opportunities where the usual ‘safety checks’ are relaxed, and either attempt to remove stock or simply get away with misappropriating assets.

A partner in KPMG’s Forensic Risk Consulting practice, Giuliani explained: “Money can be tight at this time of year with higher than usual spending leading to additional pressures on employees. Combine this with a time of year when targets and bonuses are assessed and it’s easy to see how employees might be tempted to falsify sales or overstate performance so they look like they’re hitting their targets.”

Giuliani added: “For many businesses, the lead-up to Christmas also represents a boost in demand. Many companies turn to temporary staff for support, but in the rush to improve customer service they may not adequately vet the new recruits. With many regular staff taking time off, the resulting lack of supervision also provides a rise in opportunities for the fraudster.”

Also, Giulani said: “We’ve also seen a marked rise in payment diversion fraud, where fake requests are made to change supplier’s bank details so that funds are diverted into the fraudster’s own bank account. Our analysis shows that cases range in value from just over £30,000 lost by one business in a single transaction to a total of £5 million extracted from another. In almost all the cases we’ve seen, fraudsters appear to be making use of openly declared business relationships.”

In conclusion, the KPMG analyst stated: “It’s particularly worrying that fraudsters often rationalise their behaviour. They may believe that they’re only ‘borrowing’ the money from their employer to tide them over an expensive Christmas, but the fact is that their actions might have serious repercussions when it comes to an organisation’s financial stability. It’s something that cannot be ignored because, if it is, any business falling victim to fraud is more likely to be a ghost to Christmas future.”

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