Tag Archives: Fire Safety

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As yet unpublished research on false alarms data gathered in Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland and Sweden was presented by Dr Sebastian Festag from ZVEI, the German Electrical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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Europe is the world’s top tourist destination… but are tourists safe?

Worldwide, tourist travel is on the rise. Indeed, international tourism actually dwarfs any other type of leisure business in terms of growth. One of the global regions benefiting the most from this trend is Europe: the world’s first tourism destination.

Central to the dynamism of European tourism is accommodation: hotels, B&Bs and online-rented space, but due to a loose legislative framework for safety, which is rapidly becoming obsolete as our habits as tourists evolve, hotels might also become European tourism’s Achilles’ heel.

Of all the dangers posed to a tourist’s safety in a European hotel, fire remains the biggest. Currently, the legal basis on the matter is a 1986 EU Council Recommendation on fire safety in hotels. Since EU Recommendations are, by their very nature, non-binding legal acts, this has resulted in mainly localised and incomplete measures. Fast forward 30 years later, and it’s clear that the Recommendation has had limited effect on hotel safety in Europe: a fact acknowledged by hotel federations and consumer associations alike.

The main issue is that local self-regulation resulting from the EU Recommendation hasn’t guaranteed an even level of safety across the EU. Enforcement varies considerably from country to country, and even from city to city, including in the same region, and largely depends on the size of the hotel. All-too-often, small hotels are less well scrutinised, and somewhat more ill-equipped than bigger ones to deal with fires. Local laws frequently link the number of rooms with compliance to the Recommendation.

Global trends

An analysis of global trends in tourism shows that, as our tourist habits evolve, the risk resulting from the current situation increases: more and more travellers choose to go ‘off the map’ opting for smaller hotels rather than big chains. This new type of tourist also tends to visit exactly those countries where safety in hotels is less controlled.

Add to this the relatively unregulated development of increasingly popular online ‘homestay’ networks, such as Airbnb, and you have a flammable cocktail. The situation seems to be calling for a fast reaction.

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The most recent attempt to initiate binding legislation on tourism accommodation safety arose in October 2015. A Resolution of the European Parliament called for a consistent European approach around risks related to fire. Reactions to the Resolution from various Brussels-based influencers highlighted a novel situation. All parties involved – ie consumer associations, hotel federations and Euralarm, the European Trade Association representing the electronic fire and security industry – now seem to agree that a legally binding EU Directive would be the right solution to address the issue.

Industry-led survey

Unfortunately, the initiative derailed due to a lack of reliable supporting data. The exact level of risk existing for the flows of tourists travelling to and inside Europe remains a question mark.

Outside of empirical observations, statistics on safety in tourism are notoriously hard to come by, with reputational issues hampering self-reporting. An EU Commission-initiated data collection programme launched in 2008 resulted in a blatant failure.

The focus now is on a survey led by the industry, rather than the EU. Among others, Euralarm has asserted its readiness to help with new data collection efforts. The organisation has also offered to provide support and expertise to the EU Institutions and the CEN-CENELEC European standardisation platform for the development of the relevant legislation and necessary standards needed to improve fire safety in hotels.

Progress in European legislation and standardisation is often slow unless the issue makes it to the news headlines. In 2004, after a number of tunnel fires with resulting casualties, the EU Commission was forced to publish a Directive on tunnel fire safety. Should we wait any further before adopting a Directive on tourism accommodation safety?

Time to act

Any failure to act quickly could lead to another cost for Europe. As tourism is now more globalised than ever, competition becomes fiercer, and parts of the world with more stringent and well-established regulations for safety in tourism accommodation might hold a key advantage.

In the United States for example, a Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act has been in place since 1990. Potential future incidents resulting from poor regulation could hit Europe’s tourism industry particularly hard. Its reputation as a safe destination has already taken a blow due to recent terrorist attacks.

Tourism is one of the engines of the European economy and an important source of jobs. Eurostat reports that one-in-ten non-financial enterprises in Europe belong to the tourism industries, and that these 2.2 million enterprises employ an estimated 12 million people. That’s more than one-in-five of individuals employed across the services sector.

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Notifier introduces BS 7273-4 CPD course on release mechanisms for fire doors

Notifier by Honeywell has announced the launch of a new Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course for 2016-2017.  ‘Getting To Know BS 7273-4’
provides installers, integrators, contractors, consultants and end users with all the information on this important standard and how it relates to the way that doors are opened, closed and controlled by fire detection systems.

Although it was first introduced in 2007, the 2015 revision of BS 7273-4 has brought the subject of release mechanisms for fire doors into sharp focus. The prompt evacuation of a burning building requires as few obstacles and obstructions as possible and, similarly, restricting the spread of fire and heat in such a situation relies upon the use of well-engineered fire doors that can be reliably closed in the event of a fire.

Adhering to BS 7273-4 is increasingly important. The guidance in Annex A of the Code of Practice is now normative, which means that, if control of doors is performed by a fire detection system, the requirements of the category must be met. If the guidelines are not followed, it’s likely that the fire door provision fails to satisfy a fire risk assessment.

Notifier’s new BS 7273-4 CPD course has been written by experts within the company. It enables delegates to gain a better understanding of how modern life safety technology can be used to increase a building’s safety by interfacing it with fire doors and secured fire exits. By providing an overview of the various scenarios when doors should be released, it looks at control arrangements for the actuation of mechanisms that unlock, release or open doors in the event of a fire episode before going on to cover recommendations for the interface between fire detection and alarm systems, as well as equipment not covered in any other standards.

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Those attending the course will also gain an valuable understanding of the three categories of actuation – A (Critical), B (Standard) and C (Indirect) – and the circumstances under which the control mechanisms should revert to their fail safe position in order to protect escape routes and prevent the spread of smoke in the event of fire.

“It’s fair to say that, since its original introduction eight years ago, BS 7273-4 has been largely ignored apart for a few isolated cases of Best Practice,” commented Gregg Bushell, senior marketing communications specialist at Honeywell Security and Fire.

“I’m pleased to say that the situation is beginning to change. This CPD course is a key part of our strategy to enhance knowledge about this important standard and how its implementation could save lives. There can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach to configuring a BS 7273-4 compliant system. Fire doors and exits should be considered individually such that people, property and assets are protected as well as they possibly can be in the event of a fire.”

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New website launched by Bull Products for Cygnus wireless fire alarm system

Bull Products has just launched a brand new website at www.cygnusalarms.com devoted to its innovative Cygnus wireless fire alarm system.

Developed in conjunction with major construction companies, the Cygnus system is designed specifically for use on construction sites where the environment demands far higher radio performance than standard systems. The Cygnus system is able to link no less than 480 alarm devices in 15 zones.

The new website has been created to help construction companies specify the exact Cygnus system they would like for a particular project. As well as giving an explanation of the system and its capabilities, there’s a full listing of all the control panels and individual alarm units available.

There are also helpful videos to explain the system and its maintenance, and a gallery showing recent installations for end user customers including BSkyB, Crossrail and Scotland Yard together with a number of customer testimonials on projects as well as full Case Studies.

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Included on the site is a full technical section and servicing advice plus details of the standards relating to the use of fire alarm systems on different types of construction sites and conformity to regulations.

The Cygnus wireless fire alarm system is backed by an eight-strong customer support team who are there to help customers with their specific requirements, installation and servicing needs.

Five control panels, 31 alarm units

In the Cygnus family there are a choice of five control panels and 31 alarm units and accessories, all illustrated with their details on the website. A CYG6 control panel has recently been introduced to cater for smaller construction sites, handling 32 alarm devices in a single zone. There’s also a control panel available with a GSM modem allowing reporting via SMS text messaging.

Another innovation is a PIR option available on all alarm modules to detect intruders and alert off-site personnel for added safety protection.

The Cygnus fire alarm system has an impressive capability of linking up to 480 units across a construction site. Individual units may be either a fire alarm Call Point, First Aid alert point, smoke detector, heat detector or a combined Call Point/First Aid alert alarm. Further capabilities include out-of-hours notifications via an auto-dialling panel to key-holders.

Cygnus has been specifically designed for use in dense concrete and steel structured buildings, and areas where there are many other radio frequencies in use. Particular attention has been given to achieving an extremely long range connection. Operational distances in excess of 1.5 km have been recorded in an open air environment.

Cygnus covers impressive distances due to a meshing system which allows devices to communicate through one another and not directly to the panel.

Bull Products offers a full one-year guarantee on all Cygnus devices and provides high levels of technical, on-site and after-sales service support in addition to its standard maintenance contracts.

*Further information on the Cygnus wireless alarm system is available from Bull Products on (telephone) 01432 371170 or send an e-mail to: info@bullproducts.co.uk

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ASSA Abloy offers fire safety advice on door closers for end users

Fire safety breaches can result in hefty fines and jail sentences. With this in mind, ASSA Abloy UK is offering end users salient advice on door closers in relation to fire safety.

According to Atomik Research, 45% of those responsible for fire safety within their organisations say they wouldn’t know how to spot a suspect fire door.

Door closers play a critical part in fire and smoke protection. ASSA Abloy UK’s DC700G-FM Free-Motion door closer is the first door closer for door widths of up to 1,400 mm that combines a free-swing function with Cam-Motion technology, allowing users to operate fire doors with the same low forces as non-fire doors. This replicates the absence of a door closer, but offers reliable closing in the event of a fire.

Ideal for providing barrier-free access, the DC700G-FM Free-Motion door closer satisfies BS 8300, helping towards meeting the requirements of Approved Document M of the Buildings Regulations and The Equalities Act 2010 for building owners, users and visitors.

The product is also suitable for use in schools, hospitals or residential care homes where the young, elderly or infirm may struggle in dealing with the forces associated with conventional door controls.

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David Hindle, head of door closer sales at ASSA Abloy UK, said: “Shaftesbury Care Group Ltd has recently been hit with a hefty fine and costs totalling £410,000 due to fire safety failings at a care home. This serves as a stark warning to businesses that failing to carry out fire safety responsibilities can have detrimental consequences.”

Hindle added: “It’s essential that those responsible for fire safety within organisations ensure the correct door closers are installed. Door closers on fire and smoke protection doors can be a complex matter, since they must present the user with the lowest possible opening forces, while still retaining a high closing force in line with legislation.”

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Recruitment drive underpinned by growth at Advanced

With demand for its fire systems growing steadily in all of its domestic and international markets, Advanced has recently completed a major recruitment drive to grow its workforce by over 10% in order to boost its manufacturing capacity and, at the same time, add key talent to its international marketing and UK and US Engineering Department.

Commenting on this growth Ray Hope, Advanced’s managing director, told Risk UK: “We have continually invested in fire systems that lead the market in terms of quality, performance and ease-of-use and are experiencing very positive growth. We now have bases, partners and customers in over 60 countries worldwide and, while we’ve consistently grown, some of our new product innovations are driving demand in key markets and developing new opportunities that we need to build on and support.”

RayHopeAdvanced

Hope added: “It has been an amazing couple of years, with our systems installed in some of the most famous and challenging developments in the world. I’d like to thank everyone at Advanced for their hard work and welcome our new starters. We have some major projects ahead in key markets. The emphasis is on maintaining and building momentum.”

Advanced is a specialist developer and manufacturer of intelligent fire systems with solutions suitable for any site, from single panel installations to large multi-site networks.

The company’s products include complete fire detection systems, multi-protocol fire panels, extinguishing control and fire paging systems.

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TDSi’s EXgarde solution shortlisted in Benchmark Innovation Awards 2016

Integrated security solutions developer TDSi has announced that its EXgarde Enterprise solution has been shortlisted in the Access Control Software category of the Benchmark Innovation Awards 2016. Organised by Risk UK’s sister title Benchmark Magazine, these awards recognise products, systems or services that enhance and advance the delivery of secure, flexible and beneficial security solutions for end users.

John Davies, managing director of TDSi, commented: “We’re very excited that EXgarde Enterprise is a finalist in these industry-recognised and respected awards. EXgarde is a flagship software solution within our integrated security portfolio, offering complete control of any security and access control situation all from one central portal. We look forward to hearing the result when it’s announced in July.”

EXgarde is a fully-featured access management PC software application that combines an intuitive GUI and powerful integration capabilities in a single package. Supporting multiple doors as standard, with the option to extend this with an unlimited door licence, EXgarde meets the needs of even the largest of access control networks.

TDSi Benchmark Finalist

With EXgarde, integration and expansion are key features and there are numerous possibilities to integrate with the latest CCTV and biometric technologies. The software is compatible with many otherwise disparate security systems, both from TDSi and other manufacturers, including third party ODBC databases (using SDK or predefined protocol), building management, fire and intruder systems, DVR equipment and biometric readers.

Leading compatible systems include Milestone Systems’ XProtect Access and the recently-launched ASSA Abloy’s KS100 server wireless cabinet electronic lock as well as SimonsVoss’ SmartIntego online locking solutions, Texecom’s Premier and Premier Elite range of intruder alarms and  ASSA Abloy’s Aperio wireless locking technology, along with TDSi’s own VUgarde2 IP CCTV VMS software and advanced DIGIgarde readers.

Recent additions to EXgarde include a Tenant Event Split option, an Elevator Dispatch facility and a security tours function.

*For further details on TDSi’ EXgarde range as well as the company’s full suite of security solutions visit: www.tdsi.co.uk

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