Author Archives: denmark

Solid timber elements can self-extinguish in the event of a fire

solid-timber

There is considerable evidence that timber will become an even more important construction material. In recent years, several researchers have been investigating the strength and fire safety properties of cross-laminated timber, and it is hoped that newer versions of solid timber elements will, by and large, be fire-resistant.

Is it possible to use more timber in building constructions? That is an exciting question which preoccupies researchers in timber around the world. Dr. Richard Emberley from California Polytechnic State University in the USA has, for example, carried out research into the self-extinguishing abilities of burning timber, and Danish architect Kristine Sundahl is investigating the role of materials, particularly timber, in architecture for her Business PhD.

– A major problem in the area is that large swathes of the population perceive timber as a flammable material that isn’t safe to live in. However, the type of timber we are working with today is completely different to the lightweight constructions of light timber used previously, says Dr. Richard Emberley.

Construction material of the future
The two researchers agree that there are exciting opportunities in construction elements made from cross-laminated timber, also known as CLT. Cross-laminated timber is a solid timber element comprising a number of different layers placed perpendicularly on top of one another. The weaknesses are evened out in the cross-lamination so that the bearing capacity is distributed. The layers are glued together with solid timber elements that have substantial rigidity and strength as well as being extremely dimensionally stable.

– There is a lightness in timber, and it has many excellent properties which make it suitable for use as a surface. It is rigid and strong and good for covering long expanses, such as horizontal division structures, floors and ceilings. Moreover, timber is more environmentally-friendly to produce than both concrete and iron and it provides an excellent indoor climate, explains Kristine Sundahl.

On top of that, solid timber elements weigh less than concrete, which means that you can make do with a smaller and less expensive foundation. According to Dr. Richard Emberley, the large transversal sections that can be produced from cross-laminated timber make it possible to utilise the timber’s ability to self-extinguish.

Self-extinguishment
Indeed, the ability to self-extinguish is a subject on which Dr. Richard Emberley has carried out research during his PhD project.

– The term self-extinguishment is used when the energy provided by the flames is not sufficient to break down the material and the fire needs an external source of energy in order to keep going and destroy the timber. Thus, you could say that the fire suffocates itself, says Dr. Richard Emberley, who goes on to explain that the solid timber elements are compressed so tightly together that it provides a high degree of fire resistance in both load-bearing and partitioning structures.

CLT solid timber elements provide such good fire safety that it can be compared to non-flammable construction materials. CLT does not burn, rather it carbonizes slowly and at a predictable speed so that its bearing properties are maintained for a long time.

The construction industry awaits
The strength of solid timber elements, combined with the ability to self-extinguish, make it possible to use timber in construction to a far greater degree than previously. And, research is still being carried out into the properties and limitations of solid timber elements in several places around the world, Dr. Richard Emberley informs us.

He has contributed to the research himself by, for example, carrying out a number of both small and large-scale trials whereby different sizes of rooms constructed from timber were ignited. The purpose of the trials was to determine the extent to which timber can ideally be compressed in order to make it fireproof.

However, Kristine Sundahl believes that re-establishing timber as one of the major construction materials will be a long, drawn-out process. She is following research around the world where the focus is on finding the right quantity and composition of glue while, at the same time, experiments are being carried out on joints, moisture and the spread of fire.

– Architects and engineers are, in a way, biding their time with regard to the testing of CLT and are awaiting the results of, for example, research and experiences gleaned from the buildings of solid timber elements that have already been constructed.  However, it takes time to change a tradition in the construction industry, says Kristine Sundahl.

 

Cause of multistorey carpark fire in Liverpool still unclear

phusbrand

Never before have 1,400 cars been engulfed by flames in a multistorey carpark. But this is what happened in Liverpool in December 2017. The question now is, what was the reason for the violent fire spread and what effect will the fire have on parking facilities in a number of European countries?

On 31 December, fire broke out in a car in a multistorey carpark in Liverpool. The carpark was a concrete building open on all sides – very much like the ones we know in Denmark. What is totally unfamiliar is the way in which the fire developed. Despite a prompt alarm call, a call-out time of eight minutes and 21 emergency response vehicles during the time of the action, the firefighting forces were unable to prevent the fire from spreading between cars and the storey deck, causing the write-off of all 1,400 cars plus the building. Questions are now being raised as to how this could happen.

– We know of similar fires in multistorey carparks in various locations abroad, but at the worst this has meant five or six destroyed cars and in a few cases more extensive fires, but nothing comparable to the fire in Liverpool. This is an unprecedented case and ought not to be possible, says Ib Bertelsen, Customer & Relations Director at DBI, the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology.

Explanations sought
In particular, the rapid fire spread is a matter of surprise.

– Naturally, sprinklers would have retarded fire development, but this was presumably a fully legal building of conventional construction. However, it is possible that difficulties in response tactics played a role, Bertelsen says, with the following explanation:

– When a car fire is reported, a reduced response team is sent out in the first instance, because it is ‘just’ a car fire. And it may be hard for the fire crew to access the scene of the fire.

Another possibility is that petrol and other flammable liquids leaked from the damaged cars and contributed to the rapid and violent fire spread. The local fire force estimates that the temperature was up to 1,000 degrees.

– That’s a lot, and we don’t yet know the specific circumstances, but even so, it is surprising that the situation could go so badly wrong in a properly constructed building. It will be very interesting to hear a likely explanation of why things developed as they did, Bertelsen says.

May change dimensioning
Once the explanation has been determined, the next question is whether this will have consequences in other countries.

– If there is no reasonable explanation, then, to the extent we have similar buildings in Denmark, we ought to be thinking about how we dimension our buildings and what scenarios we are dimensioning them for, Bertelsen says.

And maybe not just multistorey carparks will be subject to change – depending on the explanation from Britain.

– To a certain extent, you can compare them with large open-air carparks. Obviously, conditions are completely different in a building, but the cars are just as tightly spaced in an open carpark.

Both progress and challenges have appeared during the drafting of a European facade test

Facadetest-1

It is not perfect, but it is a big improvement. A draft proposal has been put forward for a common European standard for testing building facade systems, and even though it has some flaws, there are grounds for optimism.

The discussion surrounding a common standard for the fire testing of facade systems in Europe is not new. And recent events have fuelled the debate. This is both due to the fire in Grenfell Tower in London and also a draft proposal for a common standard that RISE (Research Institute in Sweden) has developed in collaboration with a consortium. The draft proposal has been ordered by the European Parliament, among other reasons, due to industries wanting to simplify access to the European markets by having a common standard for testing and classification.

– It is a difficult process, and it took ten years to develop the SBI test. But fires involving facades in one way or another increase the pressure on the political system to take action, says Anders Dragsted, who is a fire safety consultant at the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology.

That pressure has so far resulted in a draft proposal for a common testing method and interpretation of the test results for facade systems. It is based on the British BS 8414 and the German DIN 4102-20 facade system tests, and it also investigates factors such as falling material and smouldering fires. The first draft came out in August, and representatives from all member states were asked to provide comments on it.

– There are several positive elements. For one thing, the scope of application is widespread. The draft covers all types of facade systems except curtain wall systems, which have their own standard. This makes it easier, since then you don’t have to develop several different tests for different types of facade systems. It is an advantage for the manufacturers and for the buyers of facade systems since they only need to familiarise themselves with a single system. The same applies to the testing institutes, who only need to use one type of equipment and one method to test the facade systems, Anders Dragsted explains.

More tests than necessary
The draft proposal suggests two test variants: one with a ‘medium’ fire impact and one with a ‘large’ fire impact. Additionally, the draft covers tests with and without open windows in the facade system, which gives a total of four different test variants. Based on the spread of the fire and whether there is a smouldering fire or falling materials and on the variety of the test, a tested facade system is given one or more classifications. However, it is not all test variants that allow for unlimited access to the market in all EU member states.

– The various countries will have their own requirements on what classification is needed. This means that the manufacturers must find out in advance what classification a country requires and make sure that the tests are conducted with the correct configurations. At least two tests will need to be conducted in order to obtain all the classifications that the draft proposal contains, says Anders Dragsted and continues:

– The ideal solution would instead have been if the draft proposal suggested using a single test configuration with a single type of fire impact. The facade system could then be assigned an appropriate classification, depending on the results of the test. That would mean that a single test would have been sufficient, he says.

Outdoors testing is less than satisfactory
The draft proposal also suggests that the test is conducted outdoors. This may lead to problems for countries with strict requirements for companies’ environmental impact, as their testing labs presumably will not be allowed to make outdoors tests after taking into account neighbours and the environment. This means that the environmental regulations of the various countries will lead to unfair competition between the test institutes across the EU.

– Furthermore, the draft proposal requires that there is virtually no wind, which is extremely rare in Denmark. The temperature must be between minus 10 and plus 40 degrees Celsius at the time of the test. Tests on either end of that temperature scale will be different. If there is direct sunlight, this will impact the test, and so will the moisture of the material. And if you cannot document that the facade systems are exposed to the same impact each time, this is not satisfactory, Anders Dragsted notes, and adds:

– Even though there are flaws and parts that might be improved in the draft proposal, it will, however, still be a big step in the right direction.

Anti-terrorism: Do security considerations override aesthetic ones?

ritzau

We need to focus more on security when we implement anti-terrorism measures. Additionally, we need to be better at taking advantage of experiences from abroad when it comes to implementing anti-terrorism measures.

The politicians and employees at the Danish parliament, Christiansborg, are an obvious target for terrorism, and therefore work has begun on securing the area around the Christiansborg Palace Square. After several years of negotiations, it has been decided that a number of temporary granite slabs are to be replaced with granite spheres, 112 cm in diameter, in order to prevent unauthorised vehicles from entering the palace square.

The appearance and expression of the anti-terrorism measures within and around the historic Christiansborg Palace has been the subject of an intense debate, and the design considerations have been one of the reasons why permanent anti-terrorism measures have taken a number of years to implement. But the debate concerning design in relation to anti-terrorism measures reduces their effectiveness in the opinion of Jesper Florin, the head of the security department at DBI, the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology.

– We have to think about a lot more than the extent to which granite spheres may be suitable for the Christiansborg Palace Square or not. Terrorism is a growing problem everywhere, and therefore we need to be better at listening to the experiences of the neighbouring countries that have unfortunately already been exposed to terrorist attacks, says Jesper Florin.

Need for a national agency
Jesper Florin thinks that Denmark should gather all the agencies that possess important knowledge about terrorism, defence and security in order to be able to give the best possible advice and develop the best solutions. This could be the police, the PET (police intelligence service), the armed forces, the security industry and, of course, the city planners.

– Among others, we have the military with a lot of experience, and also the police intelligence service who collect knowledge from all around the world. Why don’t we set up a national knowledge centre for anti-terrorism measures where all knowledge is gathered in one place to the benefit of both Denmark and our partner countries? Jesper Florin asks.

Both secure and easy on the eyes
According to Jesper Florin, a national knowledge centre against terrorism could lead to more perspectives being available for more thoroughly considered anti-terrorism measures, and where the effectiveness is not necessarily an either/or when it comes to the trade-off between security and design or appearance.

– Take a look at Oslo, for example. Here, they have begun securing the entire government district by, among other things, using urban open spaces and architecture. It is effective and easy on the eyes at the same time, so it is in fact possible to reconcile security with nice design, says Jesper Florin.

In Oslo, a series of architectural and design-related elements have been merged as security elements over a larger area. Thus, flower boxes, scenic elevations of terrain, water basins and winding streets all serve as anti-terrorism measures that prevent vehicles from gaining unauthorised access to the area.

– With the terror attack of 2011, the Norwegians saw how much can go wrong, so they are determined to make adaptations. The same way, I am sure, that we would adapt to changes in Denmark, Jesper Florin says.

In Oslo, it is not just a single historic building that has been secured. Here, they have made a thorough plan that focuses on the entire government zone.

– If we are to reach the same level of security in Denmark, then it will require an increased level of cooperation between the authorities, police and private stakeholders working with security and planning, Jesper Florin points out.

London fire emphasises challenges with high-rise buildings

Grenfell Tower Fire

Classic technical challenges fighting fires in high-rise buildings probably played a part in the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire in London, in which at least 80 people lost their lives.

Exactly what happened, why and how have not yet been completely determined following the appalling fire in the Grenfell Tower flats in London on 14 July. However, it would appear that a series of universal fire safety challenges in high-rise buildings played a central role in the most serious domestic fire in the UK since the beginning of the 20th century.

One of these is the facade, which was renovated last year with a new surface and insulation on top of the existing concrete facade.

– There is still a lot we don’t know, but from the photographs, it looks as if the facade contributed significantly to the rapid development of the fire, says Anders B. Vestergaard, fire safety consultant with the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology, DBI.

The UK media have reported that the materials used in the construction should not have been used on the building. But if you know anything about building processes, you can easily imagine how they have ended up there.

Change in construction
- Maybe the architect and building consultant originally proposed panels that were more fire-resistant and made the facade safer, then during the construction process, the developer and builder changed them for a cheaper product for economic reasons, says Vestergaard and adds:

– Once that decision has been made, you tend to forget that the facade is an integrated solution and that by changing part of it, you are affecting the whole system. It’s a classic development in a construction process that can have serious consequences for fire safety.

During the renovation, windows may also have been moved to increase the light in the flats, leaving the facade insulation – which can be flammable, more exposed to fire and thus compromising the fire-safety unit of which each flat in a concrete tower block comprises.

– And if you don’t screen off the area around the windows from the flammable insulation of the facade with a fire-proof material, you’re left with a facade where fire can spread unhindered between the floors and between the facade and the flats, Vestergaard explains.

The facade is a complete system
The overall problem is that the facade is not thought of as a complete system but as individual elements. This is what happens when a contractor changes individual products in a system and it’s also the case if you imagine that fireproof materials are the only solution in a high building. Because actually, there is nothing wrong with using flammable materials for the facade of a tower block as long as the system is constructed to support its use, e.g. by encasing the flammable material in fireproof material.

– It can be difficult to get right but is certainly possible and provides options with sufficient safety, says Anders Dragsted, fire safety engineer at DBI.

– It may also be that all materials in a facade system are approved individually but become a completely different product when they are put together. Normally products are tested individually but not the system as a whole, as it should be, he adds.

Evacuation
Another well-known challenge with tower blocks is evacuation. In connection with Grenfell Tower’s recent renovation, a system was installed that, in case of fire, was supposed to keep the stairwell free of smoke by creating an overpressure. This was a really important feature as the stairwell was the only escape route for the residents as well as being the only way in for fire fighters. It has not yet been ascertained whether or not the system worked but overpressure ventilation systems are generally difficult to work with.

– In Denmark, overpressure ventilated stairwells have become more common over the past 15 years because higher buildings are being built. This is often a requirement when a building is over 22 metres high, as emergency service ladders cannot reach higher, making safe evacuation via the stairwell even more important, explains Lise Schmidt, fire safety engineer at DBI.

Advanced systems
An OPV (over pressure ventilation) system works in the way that a stairwell becomes pressurised if there is a fire on one of the floors. The OTV system blows air into the stairwell and creates an overpressure. On each floor, it is possible to release pressure via an opening to a shaft. When the door between a smoke filled floor and the stairwell is opened, the airflow from the stairwell forces the smoke away from the stairwell and the release in pressure ensures that the smoke is released out into the open. If smoke is only registered in the stairwell, the system will not usually start as this will spread smoke into the stairwell and to all other floors.

– OTV systems are very automatic and must be finely adjusted to ensure that the pressure does not get too high, otherwise the doors to the stairwell may become difficult or even impossible to open, explains Lise Schmidt.

In recent years, more advanced systems have been developed where the airflow into the stairwell is more constant, and a safety valve or damper in the stairwell ensures that the pressure does not become too high.

CFPA-E Chairman appointed Vice-Chairman of CFPA-I

Jesper Ditlev Administrerende direktør, DBI Jernholmen, Hvidovre

The Confederation of Fire Protection Associations – International (CFPA-I) convened earlier this month for their triennial General Assembly. During the proceedings, representatives from over a dozen nations unanimously elected Mr. Jesper Ditlev of Denmark as Vice-Chairman. Mr. Ditlev had previously served as Treasurer of CFPA-I, and he looks to help lead the organization through a strategic transformation slated to take place during his three year term.

CFPA-I is a leading global fire protection organization bringing together associations from around the world to address the myriad issues in fire and life safety. Mr. Ditlev brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in this area, having spent over twenty years in the industry. Graduating from University of Aalborg in 1990 with a Masters in Civil Engineering, he has become an expert in building technologies, risk assessment, and business development. Mr. Ditlev has risen through the ranks of the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology (DBI), and was promoted to CEO in 2009. He has since overseen the continued expansion of the institute, which stands as one of the most important life safety bodies in Europe.

Chairman of CFPA Europe
Mr. Ditlev has played an essential role in CFPA-I for years, while also leading its partner organization CFPA-E. He spearheaded a multi-year transformation of CFPA-E, expanding its membership and streamlining its administration. As CFPA-I Vice-Chairman, he will surely leverage the experience gained through his time at the helm of DBI, and as leader of CFPA-E.

During this year’s General Assembly, Mr. Ditlev helped to unveil the strategic plan for the future of CFPA-I. With a renewed focus on outreach and research, CFPA-I’s administrative operations to Cairo and begin bolstering the organization’s social media presence. The members of CFPA-I welcome Mr. Ditlev’s vision in this time of transition and look forward to reaping the rewards of his leadership in the months to come.

On behalf of CFPA-I, congratulations, Mr. Ditlev. Best of luck in your endeavors.

 

Artificial intelligence for tomorrow’s firefighters

Brand i hus

Artificial Intelligence is more than SIRI on your iPhone and computers that can win at Jeopardy. A project where artificial intelligence assists firefighters during a call-out is running in the USA, and offers huge potential.

A firefighter enters a burning building. In addition to his fire-resistant clothing, boots, gloves and helmet, he also has a head-up-display (HUD), which presents key data in his field of vision. Moreover, his clothing is fitted with various sensors that feed the artificial intelligence that follows the firefighter with the firefighter’s position, temperature data, toxic gases and other hazard warnings. The artificial intelligence analyses the data, simultaneously collecting information from different sensors in the building and from databases with technical drawings of the structure. Based on all the data, the artificial intelligence sends instructions to the firefighter via his HUD, enabling him to navigate safely through the building.

Moreover, if there is a group of firefighters who, for example, need to fight the blaze or locate trapped occupants, the artificial intelligence can suggest ways in which the firefighters can work together to successfully perform their task.

AUDREY is here
The above example could actually become reality within a few years, as artificial intelligence is already under development. It – or should we say ‘she’ – is called AUDREY, which is an acronym for ‘Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction, and sYnthesis’. And the above scenarios are just some examples of where AUDREY can be employed.

AUDREY is the result of a joint project between Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), which is a part of NASA and administered by the California Institute of Technology (CALTECH), and the Department of Homeland Security in the USA. It is part of a larger project called Next Generation First Responders (NGFR), which will enhance safety for emergency services in the field through supporting and improving their focus and communication.

AUDREY is still at an early stage of development, and was tested last summer when it was fed data from various sensors and delivered recommendations to a mobile unit. And within the next year, AUDREY will be tested in real-life situations.

Firefighters’s guardian angel
AUDREY is based on a range of technological breakthroughs which will make it a possible assistant for tomorrow’s firefighters. For example, it is designed to integrate with the ‘internet of things’, where more and more everyday objects are connected to the internet, for example bathroom scales, underfloor heating systems, lighting, fridges and TVs. Even now, AUDREY is able to find the objects, gather data from their sensors and combine this data with data from the sensors which the firefighters carry as part of their equipment.

– When the firefighters are connected to all the sensors, AUDREY will in effect become their guardian angel. Thanks to the data which the sensors are registering, the firefighters will not, for example, run into a room where the floor is collapsing, says Edward Chow, manager at the JPL Civil Program Office and program manager for AUDREY.

Can observe and learn
Before data can be used, it must be filtered and processed.

– The prevalence of minisensors and ‘the internet of things’ can make a huge difference to first responder safety, how they are connected to one another and their understanding of the situation. However, the huge volumes of data are incomprehensible in their raw form and must be synthesised to usable, targeted information, says John Merrill, project manager for NGFR.

AUDREY can do this as well. It knows the different roles in connection with an emergency operation, and can thus provide relevant information to the right people without drowning all the firefighters connected to AUDREY in information. At the same time, AUDREY observes and learns during a call-out. And once it has acquired enough experience, it will predict which resources will be needed later in the call-out based on how previous incidents have progressed. Like all artificial intelligence, AUDREY is only as good as the data it receives. And the more data there is, the greater the likelihood of it being able to supply useful advice and instructions.

– Most artificial intelligence is rule-based: if x happens, then it does y. But what happens if it only receives some of the information? We use complex reasoning to simulate how people think. This makes it possible for us to provide more useful information to the firefighters than with conventional artificial intelligence, says Edward Chow.

 

06.09.17

Protection against both fire and theft

window-brake

Protecting a building against both fire and theft can be a challenge. Security consultants recommend prioritising both types of security, depending on whether or not people are located inside the building.

Fire safety and theft protection are two safety and security objectives that, unfortunately, often work against one another. As safety consultant Maiken Skriver Poulsen explains, when it comes to residential buildings, fire safety is primarily about getting people out of the building, while theft protection involves keeping burglars out.

-If there is a fire, people need to be able to get out without worrying about locks, keys and codes. If a burglar breaks in, on the other hand, we don’t want him to be able to slip out of the front door with all of our property, and that is why it is not easy to protect a building against both fire and theft. If you consider the full picture and make clear choices, though, it is actually possible to do both, says Maiken Skriver Poulsen from the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology, DBI.

Are there people in the building or not?
One of the traditional pieces of anti-theft advice is to have a lock on the door that cannot be opened from the inside without a key. It is therefore recommended to avoid thumb-turn locks, as these allow a potential burglar to let himself out with all the stolen goods. If a lock requires a key – and even if the key is left in the lock – it can slow down or create added stress for residents attempting to flee in the event of a fire. That is why Maiken Skriver Poulsen recommends always considering theft protection based on two scenarios: In one scenario, there are people inside the house who may be fast asleep, and in the other scenario the entire family is away from home.

– If the house is empty, there is no reason for having a key in the lock on the inside of the door. Besides, if there is nobody home, it needs to be as difficult as possible for a thief to empty the abode. On the other hand, if there are people inside the house, we recommend leaving the key in the lock on the inside of the door and installing an alarm, Maiken Skriver Poulsen explains, referring to a burglar alarm with motion sensors or a video surveillance system with an alarm.

For businesses, the safety consultant recommends separate security systems depending on whether or not people are found in the building.

Prevention is the best protection
According to Maiken Skriver Poulsen, companies and private citizens should, however, generally implement the most effective means of burglary protection – namely, prevention.

– A survey conducted by the Danish Insurance Association shows that burglars most often break in at the ground level through a window, so this is naturally an area that requires extra attention. The good, old-fashioned tricks are also still effective, such as keeping laundry on the clothes line and rubbish in the bin, says Maiken Skriver Poulsen, and concludes:

– All experiences show that the thief will select houses where it looks like nobody is home. You should therefore always be sure to turn on a light, have cars parked nearby, keep a free line of sight to the house from the street and neighbouring houses, and post clearly visible signs to let people know the alarm is on.

Mobile detectors to prevent construction site fires

mobile-detektorer

Expensive fires at construction sites may become a thing of the past with mobile, wireless detectors.  The technology is already on the British market and is now on its way to the Danish market, too.   

When renovating a building such as an old mansion, one of the first steps is to remove all of the fire safety installations. Next, a group of workers comes in and maybe alters the old electrical installations and often performs hot work. It is almost as if one is actively seeking to start a fire.

In the future, however, it will be possible to protect renovation and construction work with a fire-safety system that uses mobile detectors to pick up heat, smoke or gas to protect a building from fire while the project is underway. In Denmark, several companies have introduced new solutions to the market, and GearTeam is one of them.

– The product comes from England, where, just like Denmark, they have had problems with fires and accidents at construction sites, says Jesper Løvbo, the CEO of GearTeam.

A simple and effective solution
The solution was developed in a collaboration between an English construction company and an electronics producer, and it was therefore designed to address the challenges found at construction sites.

– The system consists of a call point and detectors that are connected wirelessly and can be mounted with two screws. This means that they are easy to use and move around at the construction site, which is always expanding and transforming. The design is simple and is focused on user-friendliness, so that the people at the building site can set them up on their own and connect them to the basic unit located in the foreman’s office. The units run on batteries that have a lifetime of three years, explains Jesper Løvbo.

The call point and detectors can be separated and connected by the hundreds. The basic unit controls the various secondary units, sends messages to the foreman and developer in the event of the alarm, and it can also indicate exactly where in the building an alarm is triggered so that the fire department knows where to go. The individual units detect both smoke and heat.

– In this way, they are better than the fire guards that are required the day after hot work, because the guards cannot see a smouldering fire in the underlying construction. By pressing a button on the detectors, the people at the site can also issue an evacuation alarm, Jesper Løvbo says.

Furthermore, the detectors are able to function with other systems. For example, when building out or on, they can communicate with the ABA system in the existing building so that people inside can also be evacuated in the event of a fire. The system can also communicate with access-control systems at the building site so that barriers automatically go down in the event of an evacuation.

Huge potential in the technology
The hope is that the new solutions are able to improve safety at Denmark’s construction sites, which have traditionally been plagued by fire and accidents.

– We have had big fires at construction and renovation sites here in Denmark. Not only do they delay the project, but they also result in huge damage costs that we naturally would like to avoid. We believe the mobile detectors may be able to prevent some of the damage, says Peter Dræbye, a risk engineer for the Danish insurance company, Codan Forsikring.

London Fire Statement from the CFPA-I

Upper_Grenfell_Tower

The Confederation of Fire Associations-International (CFPA-I) extends its deepest sympathies to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and expresses high praise for the work of the emergency services who have been working extremely hard and tirelessly to manage this terrible situation.

This was a devastating fire. As details emerge, we understand there was a refurbishment including exterior cladding and a communal heating system. We are hopeful that the pending investigation will reveal all of the factors that led to this tragic and avoidable loss of life.

The quick fire spread seen in the Grenfell Tower fire is eerily similar to that seen in other similar high-rise fires that have occurred throughout the world, including Australia and the United Arab Emirates. Although the details of the construction of the building are not yet known, reports have indicated that a composite metal cladding with foam insulation was used in the recent refurbishment. At this time, it is not known whether the external cladding had been tested and approved in accordance with the most current fire safety standards.

CFPA-I remains deeply concerned that there are many high-rise buildings around the world that have flammable materials installed with the potential for external fire spread.

It is the view of CFPA-I that building regulations and associated guidance in many locations have not always included safeguards to prevent the use of materials and methods that have poor fire performance capabilities. Even in the absence of strong governmental oversight, architects, engineers, contractors and building owners must embrace fire protection as a fundamental and essential consideration. This includes the proper balance of active and passive fire protection measures, and the on-going inspection, testing and maintenance of all fire and life safety systems.

Many insulating materials are available for use in building construction and their fire performance characteristics can range from being non-combustible to very flammable – it is a matter of choice, and clearly some choices are safer than others.

While we must wait for a full investigation into the cause of the fire and the reasons for such rapid fire spread in this tragic incident, CFPA-I and its member organisations will continue to campaign for improvements in fire safety legislation and in ensuring the safety of the public and our built environment.

This includes:

  • Appropriate alarms, training and evacuation procedures
  • Smoke detection and alarm systems in all residential buildings
  • Controls on the use of flammable façades
  • Proper design, installation and maintenance of fire doors
  • Proper design, installation and maintenance of fire and smoke barriers and the protection of structural components
  • Fire sprinkler protection for all residential and high risk buildings
  • Regular updates of building regulations
  • Initiatives to ensure full compliance with fire and life safety regulations
  • Robust programs for the inspection, testing and maintenance of fire protection systems.

For further information, contact:
Steven Ooi, Chairman:  stevenooi@jayasarana.com
Hatem Kheir, Vice-Chairman: kheir@link.net