An international group of colleagues represented CFPA at the VdS-FireSafety 2016 (7th/8th December) – for the first time with an own CFPA exhibition booth. The CFPA booth was well visited throughout the fair. In total, CFPA could gain new contacts to about 170 international experts and exchange opinions and expertise about, among other things, certification, training and guidelines on a European level.
The 5th VdS-FireSafety set a new visitor record: It brought over 2,600 experts from 18 countries to the Cologne Exhibition Centre – 30% more than last year. As usual, it combined a large number of high-quality offers: six VdS conferences (“Fire Detection and Alarm Systems”, “Fire Extinguishing Systems”, “Smoke and Heat Exhaust Ventilation Systems”, “Structural Fire Protection”, “Urban Public Buildings” and the 40th seminar for Fire Protection Managers), the only fire safety fair in the Rhineland as well as a science and exhibitor forum with a total of 30 lectures on current research results and technical innovations – one of them explaining the work of CFPA Europe.
The experts at the CFPA booth came from many different countries and organizations, which gave visitors the chance to discuss a broad range of subjects. Among them were Kamila Kempna and Jan Smolka from GIT/Czech Republic, Mirna Rodriguez from Cepreven/Spain, Peter Stocker from Switzerland, Pia Mark from DBI/Denmark, and Tommy Arvidsson, Director of CFPA/UK. In addition, several further colleagues visited the fair: Jesper Ditlev from DBI/Denmark, Guillaume Savornin from CNPP/France, John Briggs from FPA/UK, and of course Ingeborg Schlosser from VdS/Germany, the organization hosting the fair. “Our participation with a booth was a success”, said Tommy Arvidsson directly after the two days in Cologne. “The number of visitors and the big interest has already led to the decision that CFPA Europe will return as exhibitor next year”.
“Many of our guests call the VdS-FireSafety their annual highlight”, sums up Lars Braun from VdS, organizer of the event. “The fact that we were able to support so many planners, engineers, architects, insurance and official experts and further specialists from all fire protection areas with comprehensive news, ideas and possibilities of exchange is pleasing our whole team.” On the basis of this success, VdS will again host the FireSafety Cologne in 2017 (on 6th and 7th of December 2017) and further expand the range of offers.
Despite numerous campaigns, the statistics for fires caused by hot work in Denmark are still far too high. In other Nordic countries, there are stringent requirements regarding training and certification and this has reduced the number of costly fires.
One completely normal Monday morning in April last year, a group of workmen laid asphalt roofing on a temporary roof at ’Experimentarium’ in northern Copenhagen. As a result of the hot work being carried out, the roof caught fire. The fire spread so quickly that a roofer had to jump from the roof to save his life. A total of 19 fire engines attended the scene before the fire was brought under control. Once the fire had been extinguished, most of the old buildings had been destroyed by smoke and water damage. The fire had also spread to a neighbouring listed building from 1929, resulting in serious damage. In all, the fire caused damage running to tens of millions.
The fire was just one of the recent major fires that was caused as a result of hot work. Hot work is work that produces sparks or flames and is common in, for example, roofing or welding work. These are fires that can be avoided because, with the right measures in place, there is no doubt that hot work can be safe work. At the same time, the fires cost vast amounts of money.
The Danish Insurance Association regularly compiles statistics on fires in Denmark. The industry organization’s statistics on fire causing damage running to millions show that hot work accounts for 4% of them. The same fires account for 10% of insurance payouts. In other words, these fires are costly.
– As the fire at ‘Experimentarium’ shows, fires caused by hot work usually spread very quickly and the damage is devastating. Admittedly, the number of fires of this kind is not overwhelming but they cost vast amounts of money, says Christina Christensen, an engineer with the Danish Insurance Association.
However, ironically enough, it is often not the hot work in itself that starts the fire, she explains.
– The workman has the actual flame under control but often it catches on to something else. In roofing, for example, it is the material that lies beneath the asphalt roofing that the workman doesn’t know is flammable. Or, in some cases, the sparks catch on to rubbish lying on the floor when you are cutting metal, explains Christina Christensen.
Huge difference between Denmark and its neighbours
If we look at our Nordic neighbours, the payouts resulting from accidents related to hot work are significantly lower. According to Anders Frost-Jensen, Director of Infrastructure & Quality at DBI, this is because in Norway, Sweden and Finland they have gone much further in terms of training and certification.
– There is a vast difference between Denmark and the other countries in these areas. In the other countries, it is an implicit requirement for hot work that it has to be carried out by workmen who have been trained by certified instructors in the country’s rules for hot work. Moreover, the work site must be made secure by both the developer and the person carrying out the work going through a checklist before hot work is commenced. This is a requirement stipulated by the insurance companies, explains Anders Frost-Jensen.
In Denmark, there is not the same uniform practice within the industry, even though, in Denmark we have described the same rules in DBI Guideline 10. The point is simply that if the insurance companies required everyone who performs hot work to have undergone training in accordance with DBI Guideline 10 and also to complete checklists etc. it would be hinder competition between the insurance companies.
– In the other Nordic countries, they have prioritized safety, whereas in Denmark competitiveness is the priority, explains Anders Frost-Jensen.
Recommend trained workmen
Thus, one insurance company’s policy may be to increase the excess if non-certified employees carry out the work. Another company could perhaps retain the original excess as long as the workmen follow the insurance company’s checklist for what measures have to be in place before, during and after the work. As a policy holder, you could then choose the company you think offers the best solution.
The Danish Insurance Association is urging members to ensure that employees have been trained and that checklists are followed when they are performing hot work. And, in fact, many members are following their recommendation, even though it is not standard practice in the industry.
– The insurance companies are aware of the increased risk with hot work and know that it will be minimized with the use of fire guards and trained personnel. Many of them set out requirements relating to the training of workmen and use their own variation orders which have to be filled out on site, thus ensuring that the proper conditions for the work are in place before it starts, says Christina Christensen.
More concrete practices required
DBI would like to see the recommendation become a more concrete agreement within the industry that that is how it should be. For the sake of safety.
– If these practices are adopted to a greater degree in Denmark, over time we will see a reduction in the number of fires and compensation payouts, as is the cases in the other Nordic countries. The more developers and workmen learn about hot work, the safer it will be for them to carry out the work. Therefore, from a fire safety point of view, DBI recommends that workmen should be trained by certified instructors and they must be able to prove that they have undergone such training by presenting a certificate before commencing hot work, says Anders Frost-Jensen, adding:
– The best example we have seen from our neighbouring countries is in Finland. The insurance industry asked for certifications and that has had a significant effect. The industry in Denmark should do the same. It simply isn’t ambitious enough for society and the insurance industry to continue accepting that hot work accounts for 10% of the total of the millions paid out in compensation for fire, he says.
The DNA sprays being used by retailers are a success – they are proving extremely effective at preventing theft. Therefore, several Danish food chains are now installing DNA spray solutions in their shops, even though DNA spray has never been used in investigating crimes or as evidence in a court of law.
In September 2014, the Dansk Supermarked Group (a Danish supermarket chain) installed Selecta DNA spray on a trial basis in nine selected shops in a district of Copenhagen. The system functions by spraying the burglar with DNA fluid as he escapes the shop premises. The liquid contains a unique DNA signature that can be traced back to the individual shop and which adheres to skin and clothing and stands out when exposed to UV light. The hope was that the police could use it when investigating burglaries, and that the new technology would also have a preventive effect – which it undoubtedly has.
– In our experience, the DNA spray has been very effective at deterring burglars. In the nine shops where the system was installed, there has only been one burglary since the solution was implemented. Here, however, due to human error, the spray was not released, says Jess Pedersen, Head of Group Security at the Dansk Supermarked Group.
Based on the positive experience from Copenhagen, the Dansk Supermarked Group has decided to install the system in more of its shops. Ten stores in northern Zealand have already had the system installed, and next stage involves installing it at 30 other shops throughout Denmark.
However, the Dansk Supermarked Group is not the only retailer to have discovered the new technology. Chains such as McDonald’s, 7-Eleven and Coop Danmark have also installed the DNA spray system or plan to do so. Rema 1000 has also embraced the solution, and in 2016 is installing it in all the company’s shops in Denmark.
Both the Rema 1000 shops and the Dansk Supermarked Group’s Netto shops have signs outside at the front and on the windows at the entrance clearly stating that the shop uses DNA spray. It is the preventive effect of the the solution that is so positive.
– Our aim is that burglars give up and walk away on seeing that we use DNA spray. This way, we are also protecting our employees from very disturbing and unpleasant experiences, says Jess Pedersen.
In fact, the preventive effect has been such that it has still not been necessary to investigate a single burglary where the DNA spray has been released. But the methods for using the DNA traces are nevertheless in place.
– We are ready to act and use the traces from the invisible marking. And all the police districts already have UV equipment which is used for many other purposes. If we have a suspect in custody, we can shine UV light on him and remove a sample of the artificial DNA, which we can then take to the company that supplied the solution to identify the shop where the DNA comes from, says Jørn Kjer, who heads the Danish National Police’s national prevention centre.
Ends with confessions
As there have still not been any burglaries in Denmark where the DNA spray has been used, there is some uncertainty regarding how much validity a Danish court will give to using DNA traces as evidence in a court case. And it might be some time before we find out.
– In the cases we have seen in other countries, where people have been confronted with the fact that they have been sprayed with DNA spray, they have quickly confessed to the crime. We also have examples of burglaries from residential properties, where money has been marked with DNA, and when a suspect has been arrested with DNA traces on his fingers, he has confessed his guilt. Thus, the cases there have been have been conducted as cases where the accused pleads guilty without the court considering concrete evidence, says Henrik Olsen, CEO of Unisecure, which manufactures one of the various DNA spray solutions.