Bullet-resistant glass rarely the best security solution

Bulletproof glas

Demand for bullet-resistant glass is rising, but in most cases it is an unnecessary investment. Instead the focus should be on general security and more appropriate measures. 

Bullet-resistant glass has become popular in recent years. There are no overall figures for demand, but the sector is in no doubt. Glassmakers report higher demand, and even smaller companies are experiencing a rising interest in security glass, i.e. bullet and blast-resistant glass.

– We are seeing it more and more. A few years ago, we had an average of three to four inquiries per year for bullet-resistant glass. Today, we get 15-20 inquiries, with a preference for the heavier and larger solutions, explains Henrik Torp, a glazier at Glarmestre Snoer & Sønner A/S in Copenhagen.

– Part of the rise is probably due to the significant price falls for this type of glass over the last few years, he says.

The customers seeking more secure solutions are extremely diverse. For example, they include religious congregations, large public offices, hotels and even the odd private individual.

Other and better solutions
There may be good reasons for selecting glass which has been protected in some way. If a bomb goes off near glass, the glass splinters apart and the pieces are ejected like missiles.

– In this case, the glass will become a weapon. The shock wave combined with glass can cause massive injury, explains Per Frost, emergency management and risks advisor at the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology (DBI).

– But for by far the majority of customers, protection against explosion and terrorism is setting the bar too high. If a business is subjected to terror, it will typically be the employees who can provide access to particular systems or areas who will be threatened. In these cases, bullet-resistant glass will not be the right solution. Access control management and area zoning will be far more effective in protecting personnel at the workplace, Frost states.

If a company, against all odds, really is a potential terror target, pre-detection is also a better way of ensuring protection.

– All attacks require preparation. Pre-detection uses surveillance systems to check whether there is anyone inside the building perimeter, or to see whether anyone is repeatedly observing the building. These people are detected before an incident takes place. A security guard can then be dispatched, or the authorities can be contacted regarding a justified suspicion about a coming attack, and in this way the incident can hopefully be avoided, Frost says.

Only necessary if the police say so
There are relatively few locations where bullet and blast-resistant glass is necessary.

– But there may be a good business case for it in buildings which have frequently and repeatedly been subjected to vandalism – for instance, schools. Often the same panes of glass are destroyed each time, and in this case, the higher cost of the security glass could be quickly recouped, Frost explains.

Generally, however, bullet-resistant glass is mainly necessary when required as part of a security evaluation by the police.

– Or if you are handling high-value items – e.g. at currency exchange locations or in connection with security transport. In these cases, bullet-resistant glass may make sense, though, even here, it is not always the right solution. For watchmakers and goldsmiths, it will often be enough to have showcases of strengthened glass, able to withstand blows and tools, while securing the valuables in a safe at night, Frost says, and continues:

– The best thing is to look at the total security picture and make an overall assessment. This will show you other security options.

Tendering is expanding the use of bullet-resistant glass
So, if it’s not specific needs, what’s the reason for this trend?

– There is a tendency for bullet-resistant glass to become a competitive parameter in today’s new build projects. If two identical buildings cost the same and one has bullet-resistant glass, that’s the one you go for. It sends a signal that you are keeping up with trends, even if in reality the glass will rarely solve a security problem, because there is no day-to-day threat where bullet-resistant glass would be a help. But even so, the glass can be a sales argument, Frost says, and explains it in this way:

– It’s like needing a new car where one has a top speed of 100 km/h and another 200 km/h. If you never drive above 100 km/h, which one do you actually need? The same goes for bullet-resistant glass. It’s often unnecessary, and there are many other solutions.

 

 

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New Guideline on Protection of Business Intelligence

It is human nature to assume that those we meet business are genuine, have integrity and are well-intentioned.  Sadly, in an age of intense business competition this may turn out to be fatally naive.  The readiness of unprincipled individuals and businesses to commit industrial espionage, sabotage and vandalism appears to be on the increase globally.  This impacts the victim organisation through damage to competitiveness, market advantage, reputation and staff morale.  Therefore CFPA Europe has published the Guidelines “Protection of Business Intelligence” (no. 10:2016/S). These valuable guidelines will assist the organisation identify their vulnerabilities, detect the warning signals and take proactive action to implement those countermeasures and controls essential to secure the organisation’s operational and intellectual property.

Denmark’s most fireproof battery

Lüders - Credit By & Havn / Peter Sørensen

Batteries in buildings ­– the so-called powerpacks – have arrived in Denmark. In 2017, a 460 kWh battery will be installed in the ground floor of Lüders multi-storey car park at Nordhavn in Copenhagen. Here, it will be encased in its own fire cell and secured by means of inert gas and sprinkler system and an automatic fire alarm system.

Battery technology is part of the solution to the energy issues of the future. These issues, which include how we are going to get more sustainable energy from the sun and wind into our electrical grids, and, at the same time, have energy when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Better and more cost-effective battery technology means that, in the USA and some places in Europe are already well underway with installing batteries in buildings that charge when the price of electricity is low and contribute to the building’s electricity consumption when the price is high.

And, the same technology is now coming to Denmark. Initially, it won’t provide electricity to buildings but provide it to the local electrical grid instead. Specifically, Lüders multi-storey car park in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn area, electricity network operator Radius is installing a 460 kWh battery – the equivalent of the daily electricity consumption of 32 average families.

– When the energy requirement is greatest, the battery will slice the top off the strain on the electrical grid. The grid is dimensioned to handle the peak loads that only arise a few times a year. If the battery can help ensure a power supply when the load is at its highest, we can reduce our plant and operating costs in the electrical grid, explains Ole Pedersen, Technical Asset Analyst with Radius.

The battery is one of several trials in an overall project entitled EnergyLab Nordhavn, which is testing the interplay between a number of energy solutions in the new neighbourhood in the capital.

– We anticipate that the battery, which is a lithium-ion battery supplied by ABB, will be operational in February 2017. The EnergyLab Nordhavn project will finish in 2019, but the battery’s service life is 10-12 years, Ole Pedersen explains.

Prepared for the worst
Battery technology of this type and size in a building is new and is associated with various other fire technical challenges. For example, lithium-ion batteries can overheat and burst into flames or emit explosive gases and oxygen, even though the battery’s BMS (Battery Management System) minimizes the risk.

Also, knowledge of how the batteries react to fire, extinguishing and whether or not they constitute a risk in the event of a fire, is limited. The fire safety properties of the battery have to be taken into account.

– The building’s electrical installations and the battery are kept separate from each other. The five racks of battery cells, which together make up the actual battery, are located in their own battery cell constructed with a minimum of 150 mm of reinforced concrete. In each rack there are sensors which constantly monitor each cell and register heat and fire, Ole Pedersen tells us.

If there are problems with the generation of heat, the system automatically sends an alarm to the fire brigade. In addition, an inert gas device, connected to each individual rack, has been installed. That way, the system can reduce the oxygen content in the specific rack in which the heat is being generated, thus preventing it from bursting into flames.

– There is also a sprinkler system with no water installed in the room with a sprinkler head located above each rack. When the fire brigade arrive, they will make an assessment as to whether they will go into the room containing the battery to take a closer look at it. If they don’t want to do that, they can attach a fire hose to the sprinkler system from the outside and inundate the room, explains Ole Pedersen, adding:

– We hope that it never comes to that, because the water would destroy everything in the room. But we need to have a plan for the worst case scenario.

A good place to start
The fire technical solution has come to fruition through a collaboration with ABB (who have previously installed similar batteries abroad) and DBI. The Copenhagen Fire Brigade was also involved. But, how do you actually assess fire safety when the technology is brand new and there are no rules governing it.

– There is nothing in Denmark we could compare it with. Instead, we looked to the USA, where the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has also been considering the same issue. Previously, we were used to dealing with acid and lead batteries whereby, according to NFPA’s rules, you could have up to 600 kWh in the same room. We have only just started looking at lithium batteries and whether they behave differently to the other batteries, says René Ruusunen, who is Senior Fire Engineer with Copenhagen Fire Brigade. He continues:

– On the basis of the NFPA’s 600 kWh rule, we came to the conclusion that the battery was adequately protected and that we would not have to lay down any specific requirements with regard to their installation in order to ensure safe extinguishing and rescue conditions. However, it doesn’t mean that you will be able to freely install all batteries under 600 kWh in future. The things that require approval will change as we learn more about the fire properties of the batteries. If you want to install a battery, you must contact the local fire authorities in all cases.

– At the same time, the battery has been installed in a multi-storey car park where the footfall is low and there is direct access from the open air so that we can get to it easily in the event of a fire. In that sense, it is a good place to install the first battery of its type, says Morten Valkvist, fire engineer with Copenhagen Fire Brigade.

More electricity for your money
If the technology lives up to expectations, the battery in Nordhavn could quickly become the first of many.

– We expect that it will make good economic sense. They can help us reduce construction costs and get the optimal return from the money we invest. In future, with less expensive batteries they could become an alternative to the traditional ways of supplying the electrical grid in peripheral areas. At the same time, the batteries can be used for spectrum regulation of the electrical grid, which will become more pertinent as energy production becomes less centralized due to solar cells and wind turbines, says Ole Pedersen.

Even though the level of fire safety is high, it won’t be the related costs that stand in the way of the technology. The fact is that fire safety only accounts for 3-5% of the total cost of the battery.

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New Guideline on Recommendations for the control of metal theft

At times of high market demand for metal as a result of worldwide economic developments, and the correspondingly high prices available for scrap metal, the theft of metal materials, particularly attached to or outside buildings, such as cable, roofing, raw materials and finished products, causes significant disruption to business and community assets and can even result in injury and death.  The problem can be mitigated partly by rigourous controls on scrap metal trading but these should be supported by the type of security options discussed in the new guide published by CFPA Europe: “Recommendation for the control of metal theft” (no. 9:2016/S).

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New Guideline on “Security in Schools”

The managers of our community schools bear a heavy responsibility for the wellbeing, safety and security of pupils whilst in their care. Young minds are especially vulnerable if their experience of school life is characterised by a perception that their school lacks control over property and personal crime and a generally threatening environment.

Furthermore it goes without saying that the financial costs of inadequate risk management of criminal behaviour and natural hazards is particularly significant for the educational sector which, in most countries, experiences continuous budgetary pressure.  Assaults on pupils and teachers, whilst thankfully uncommon, are on the increase and the assailant is usually legitimately on the premises rather than an outsider.  The contents of schools – computers, musical instruments, video equipment etc, unavoidably invites petty theft and catastrophic loss through arson is an ever present risk.

Security risks are therefore wide ranging. The new CFPA-Guidelines “Security in Schools” (no. 8:2016/S) describe how they are manifested in schools and the sensible, practical and cost effective protection strategies and measures available to management.

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New Guideline on Developing Evacuation and Salvage Plans for Works of Art and Heritage Buildings

Those responsible for the safe preservation of our cultural heritage bear a heavy responsibility, particularly as the buildings and objects in their custody, or under their control, are usually irreplaceable.  Responsible custodians and conservators are generally conscious of the need to keep property safe from accident, mishandling, negligence and natural hazards and can be expected to recognise the importance of fire and security risk management but it is all too easy to overlook the need to have in readiness a current and rehearsed plan for the minimisation of loss or damage in the event of a catastrophic event such as a fire or flood.  Prompt and effective action in such a crisis greatly increases the chance of valuable property being rescued or salvaged.

The CFPA-guideline “Developing Evacuation and Salvage Plans for Works of Art and Heritage Buildings” (no. 7:2016/S) will help establishments entrusted with art and heritage property such as museums, libraries, archives, and churches plan for the safe preservation of exhibits in the event of a catastrophic event such as a fire or flood, when timely action is critical.  Adoption of the guidance will also have the incidental effect of mitigating risks to the building itself.  Others with custody of art property such as warehouses, forwarding companies, galleries and trade exhibition centres will also find the document highly relevant.

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Save the date: 4th international VdS conference “Fire Protection Systems” in April 2017 in Poland

On April 27th, 2017, the fourth international VdS-conference on fire protection systems will take place in Warsaw (Poland). International experts from insurance sector, industry and fire protection organisations will make presentations on the following topics:

  • Legal and quality marks for fire protection products and systems
  • Fire protection installation from the insurers’ point of view
  • Sprinkler system design for storage facilities
  • Water mist system technology, VdS 3188
  • Fire Detection Systems in Power Stations
  • Gas extinguishing systems – Guidelines and practical experiences
  • Reliable fire protection by spark extinguishing systems
  • Experiences from Fire tests with Lithium-ion-batteries

In addition there will be an exhibition over two days at the conferences site. At the evening of June 26th a get-together with possibilities to visit the exhibition will be held.

“This is already the 4th conference in Warsaw, and we will offer also in 2017 an exciting information forum for planners, installers and operators of fire protection systems, as well as for fire protection engineers, fire safety officers from all industries and loss prevention experts from the insurance industry”, Tomasz Afeltowicz-Schultz, Head of VdS offices Poland and Director of the event says. “And the conference exhibition with renowned specialist companies offers also this time the optimal opportunity for the professional exchange of fire protection experts.”

Conference languages are Polish and English with simultaneous translation.

The participants of the VdS-conference have also the possibility to visit the conference of the European Fire Sprinkler Network (EFSN) on April26th, 2017, at the same place at a reduced price.

You will find more information by visiting the conference-web site at www.vds.de/conference-pl

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Typical fire hazards in industry and business enterprises: 4 films on one DVD on the topic of loss prevention

Publications of the German Insurers (GDV) for property loss prevention

The films visualize typical fire hazards in industrial and business enterprises. They explain recurring situations at risk inspections by fire insurers and illustrate complex fire protection issues. Effects of fires and appropriate measures to prevent damage are shown in the films.

The films can be used as an aid in advising policyholders in fire protection. They are also suitable for the training of staff and as a teaching tool in fire protection training.

Contents:

4 films on one DVD on the topic of loss prevention in both German and English.

Film 1: Storage of combustible material close to buildings

Fire hazards through for example wooden pallets  by an outside wall, fire spread in the building, effectiveness of a sprinkler system

Film 2: Fire loads in production and storage areas

Risks through combustible packaging and storage materials, benefits and impact of automatic fire extinguishing systems

Film 3: Machinery fire hazards

Machinery fires, flammable liquid fires, spray fire, effect of  local protection systems (object extinguishing systems)

Film 4: Electrical devices

Fire hazards through battery chargers, testing and thermography of electrical devices

Language: German/English

Picture format: 16:9 PAL

Running time: approx. 32 minutes

VdS 3401 : 2014-12 (01)

For further information please have a look at https://shop.vds.de/en/product/vds-3401/ or contact verlag@vds.de

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Perfect networking: CFPA at the VdS-FireSafety Cologne 2016

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.

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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.

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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”.

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“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.