Hot work starts fires costing millions

Varmt-arbejde-gnistgivende-værktøj-3

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.

Costly fires
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.

DNA spray keeps the burglars away

DNA Spray 7-eleven Hvidovre 1

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.

Primarily preventive
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.

 

Messe Essen GmbH, Norbertstraße, 45001 Essen, Germanyhttp://www.messe-essen.de

Industry Oscar for VdS-Cyber-Security

The Innovation Award of the world’s leading security trade fair, the “Security” in Essen, is considered to be the “Industry Oscar” for special achievements in loss prevention. // VdS received the golden award in the category “Services” for their comprehensive offers in the field of Cyber-Security specially for medium-sized companies. 

The Security Innovation Award, granted by the world´s leading security trade fair, the “Security” in Essen, is known as the “Industry Oscar”. Every two years outstanding performances for optimum loss prevention are rewarded. This year, the golden and thus highest award in the category “Services” went to the emergent Cyber-Security services of VdS: the VdS-guidelines 3473, the first Cyber-security standard specifically for medium-sized companies, and the institutes´ further associated services such as the free Quick-Check, the fast Quick-Audit including attestation or the VdS-Certification of information security for companies.

Dr. Harald Olschok, Managing Director of the German Association of Security Industry (BDSW) and Chairman of the jury for the services sector, stated at the ceremony in the Essen exhibition halls: “For the Industry Oscar `Security Innovation Award´ it is not only technical finesse and innovative impulses that count. The positive consequences for people and society which result from these services are also decisive. Congratulations to the Cyber-Security Standards of VdS for our most vulnerable SMEs, they have prevailed among many high-quality entries from the USA, France and Great Britain. The VdS-guidelines 3473 make this sensitive issue for SMEs concrete and manageable.”

Dr. Robert Reinermann, CEO of VdS, explained at the ceremony: “Germany is the country most affected by cyber-crime worldwide. Economic damage caused by digital attacks in Germany alone is estimated at 45 billion Euros per year, 1.6 percent of the gross domestic product – and the number of attacks is growing rapidly all over the world! Particularly endangered are the often highly innovative, but unfortunately mostly poorly secured SMEs. Again and again cybercriminals gain access to patents, processes, plannings, prices, often to all sensitive corporate data. Digital knowledge theft threatens the survival of many small and medium enterprises. That’s why we offer to SMEs the guidelines VdS 3473 about digital securing with well-known practicality and easy tips for implementation for free. ”

The guidelines VdS 3473 contain all relevant information about the organisational and technical implementation of information security and provide the usual practical assistance, at a cost which is optimally manageable for SMEs. According to a study of the Alliance for Cyber-Security the guidelines VdS 3473 are already among the top 3-standards in the implementation of management systems for information security. All information on the comprehensive range of Cyber-Security services of VdS, Europe’s No.1 Institute for Corporate Security, can be found at www.vds-global.com .

 

Caption Gold: Handover of the Golden Security Innovation Award for the VdS standard for optimal Cyber-Security in the SME sector by Jury Chairman Dr. Harald Olschok, Managing Director of the German Association of the Security Industry (right): with the trophy VdS CEO Dr. Robert Reinermann, with the certificate VdS Manager for Cyber-Security, Markus Edel.

FireSafetyWeek

Fire Safety Week in Finland

The week starts on November 26th with the event A Day at The Fire Station and during the week people are encouraged to conduct their own fire drill, download a mobile app to promote fire safety measures and participate in Nordic Fire Alarm Day on December 1st. This year’s theme is “You ain’t losing anything”. 

The aim of Fire Safety Week is to improve fire safety of the whole country. Organized for the fifth time, with the theme “You ain’t losing anything”, this year’s aim is to show that improving fire safety is about small things which make a big difference.

– You won’t lose anything by taking care of your fire safety. Doing small improvements like checking the battery of your smoke alarm or discarding dodgy electronic wires are small acts but they can save your life, says Elias Kivelä, Campaign Coordinator at SPEK.

Fire Safety Week also raises the awareness on the relation of substance use and deaths caused by fire.

– 70 % of those who die because of fire are intoxicated. A particularly bad combination is smoking and drinking. Once intoxicated, the ability to act is slower than normal and accidents happen more likely, reminds Kivelä.

A Day at The Fire Station is a popular event especially in families with children. This year over 360 fire stations are participating in the event all over Finland providing visitors a glimpse to what it is like to be a firefighter.

– In fire stations people can try on firefighters’ gears, test how to use fire extinguishers and see how to exit from a burning room. A bit older participants can also test if they would pass the physical firefighters’ test, explains Kivelä.

Companies, daycare centers, schools and homes are encouraged to conduct a DIY Fire Drill not only during the week but all year round. Those who participate by registering their fire drill are eligible to win a 2,000-euro cash prize. The week ends with The Nordic Fire Alarm Day on December 1st.

– Every day there is a fire in eight houses. Our main goal is of course to reduce this number but also to promote skills that are needed in case fire occurs. Last year in all residential fires there were 440 cases where the smoke alarm wasn’t functioning and in 862 cases there were no smoke alarm at all even though having one is mandatory by law. Fire drills are also important so you know what to do if something happens – our aim is to have 100,000 registered fire drills, states Kivelä.

Since 2014 the campaign has included an app, “Kipinä” (spark), which guides the user through their own fire safety drill. It also reminds the user to check the functioning of their fire alarm on a monthly basis.

See two short videos of Fire Safety Week:

Check you smoke alarm – YouTube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ohnycCkhgI

Learn the fire exit – You ain’t losing anything – YouTube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJBtqnpw8Vk

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SPEK awarded at the Finnish Security Awards

SPEK’s and Insurance company LähiTapiola’s Hero training won the award for “The Security Act of the Year” at the annual Finnish Security Awards in October. SPEK’s member organizations were also well represented among those whose work was recognized.

Together with its partners, Security & Safety and Risk Management Magazine (Turvallisuus & Riskienhallinta) awards annually different actors who have performed exceptionally and promoted safety in their work. This is to highlight the innovative and excellent work done in Finland in the field of safety and security.

The Security Act of the Year, Hero Training, is complimentary emergency fire extinguishing training provided by SPEK and LähiTapiola. The training is seen very useful as according to the statistics, in 2014 successful emergency fire extinguishing saved one life and prevented 12 injuries as well as financial damages for 20 million euros.

In addition, Mr Saku Rouvali and Mr Timo Tammisto from Jokivarsi voluntary fire brigade were awarded the prize of Volunteer of the Year. They have built two fire trucks which have been used frequently in youth work.

The CE mark gives a false sense of security

usb-chargerCan a charger you have purchased for your smart phone or tablet give you an electric shock or burst into flames? Maybe. Even though it carries the CE mark, it is far from certain that it meets the requirements set out by the mark.

Have you checked that the USB charger you recently bought carried the CE mark? It should, in fact, not be necessary, because all electronics that are imported into or produced in the European Economic Area, the EEA (i.e. the 28 EU nations in addition to Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) must be CE-marked. And it is certain that the charger will bear the CE mark somewhere. The problem is just that it doesn’t necessarily mean that the product meets the requirements the CE mark entails. In this case, it is quite simply dangerous to use.

– We are seeing more and more products that do not meet the requirements, and this is an indication that there is an increase in the number of products that either have not been properly tested or that simply have had a CE mark added without being tested – in other words, cheating, says Søren Petersen, a senior consultant in the department for Approval Management in the Danish GTS Institute, DELTA, who, for example, are responsible for testing electronics for the purpose of CE marking.

Potentially deadly
Electronic equipment, such as chargers for smart phones and tablets must, for example, comply with the EU’s Low Voltage Directive in order to be CE marked and to allow them to be sold on the market in the EEA. The Directive stipulates that the product meets the requirements of all directives that are concerned with safety, which means that it must protect humans, animals and property against fire, shocks, toxic smoke and many other things. It also means that products that do not comply with the CE mark can potentially burst into flames – as happened, for example, to a family in the Danish town of Hobro, whose basement was gutted by fire in February of this year. Chargers that do not comply with the CE mark can also pose a risk of electric shocks and emitting toxic smoke.

– If a product meets the requirements for the CE marking, the plastic components on a charger shouldn’t be flammable or, at the very least, be self-extinguishing within a short space of time. In addition, it should be able to cope with large voltage surges as a result of, for example, lightning strikes, without causing electric shocks or bursting into flames. It is just that it has turned out that, in some cases, the plastic is flammable and that other small defects in the equipment can result in a fire, even though this should not be possible with products carrying the CE mark. It will quite often be a case of a very limited fire, but if it happens in a house during the night, it can potentially develop into a fatal fire. Therefore, some of these products are potentially lethal, explains Søren Petersen.

Counterfeit goods from Asia
All products break down at some point, and there is also a risk that they can get water-damaged or lost during transportation with the result that they no longer meet the requirements.

– However, in my estimation, this is highly unlikely to happen, so that isn’t where the problem lies, says Søren Petersen.

The problem is more that some manufacturers – typically in Asia, where chargers can be produced cheaply – CE mark their products without testing whether the product actually meets all the requirements. Anas Salam, an investigator with DBI, explains it.

– Marks are some of the simplest things to falsify. Typically, a manufacturer produces a product that meets the requirements and it is then tested and approved. Subsequently, they become more relaxed about the requirements in order to minimise costs and maximise profits. Thus, in reality, the product is no longer tested, even though it still carries the mark, he explains.

When the products enter the EEA, it is up to the importers to check that the products have been marked and that they actually meet the requirements of the mark. This is done by looking at the certificates from impartial laboratories or by having the item tested by an impartial laboratory, such as DELTA. However, with the internet there are also many private individuals who have started to import and sell products.

– They are not bound by standards and rules in the same way as organised importers are and, at the same time, it is an easy way of earning money. Previously, you had more control over the importation of goods because it was more difficult to find a manufacturer and more difficult to sell the product. However, that is no longer the case, explains Anas Salam.

Better controls on the part of the importers
However, there are strong indications that the importers are not sufficiently aware of whether the products they are buying comply with the mark they carry. In March 2016, four out of nine non-original chargers purchased by the DR1 programme Kontant were unsafe to use. And, in 2013, the Swedish Elsäkerhedsverket (corresponds to the Danish Safety Technology Authority) conducted tests on ten chargers. All of them were subsequently taken off the market. At the Danish Safety Technology Authority, which conducts risk-based random tests on, for instance, electrical equipment, they are also aware of the problem.

– Small chargers are an area we are focussing on, and at the beginning of the year we started a control campaign on these chargers. One of the reasons for this was that many of them were failing the random checks, says Lone Hansen, who is a communications consultant with the Danish Safety Technology Authority.

The campaign includes around 120 chargers that have been registered in a screening of the market. A number of these are about to examined further through document controls or testing. However, it isn’t possible for the Danish Safety Technology Authority to test every single product that comes into the country. Therefore, it is recommended that the importers get better at doing it instead.

– It is the importers’ responsibility, and it them who are best able to ensure that the products they sell in their businesses comply with the safety requirements. They can, for example, carry out random tests on the goods or have them tested before they start to sell them. And they have every reason to do so. You see, no trader should be interested in selling products that aren’t safe. Indeed, if products are taken off the shelves or recalled from consumers, it damages the business’s reputation and sales, says Lone Hansen. Søren Petersen agrees.

– As an importer, you should screen your products and test them if you are in any doubt. It is the responsibility of the importer and the seller to ensure that the products meet the requirements of the CE mark, and they are liable to pay compensation if the product causes injury or damage, explains Søren Petersen.
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The CE Mark
CE stands for Conformité Européenne (European Conformity) and is a mark which electrical equipment must carry in order for it to be produced and/or sold in the European Economic Area (EEA). The mark is – if the product is compliant – the manufacturer’s guarantee that it meets the requirements of all the relevant EU directives concerned with safety. Products carrying the CE mark can be moved freely across national boundaries and sold within the EEA.

project-update

CFPA-Europe Training Commission project update

The Training Commission is currently working on a project to reference CFPA-Europe qualifications to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). The aim of this project is to provide a common reference point for learners, employers and other organisations when comparing qualifications, creating development plans and planning training.

The EQF was designed to act as a reference for different qualifications systems and frameworks in Europe. It takes into account the diversity of national systems and facilitates the translation and comparison of qualifications between countries. In this sense the EQF is a framework for frameworks and/or systems and it can therefore be defined as a ‘Meta-framework’. It outlines descriptors for eight levels of learning, based upon learning outcomes, which cover the entire span of qualifications from those achieved at the end of compulsory education to those awarded at the highest level of education or training. More information on the EQF can be found here.

Completion of the project is planned for 2017 and aims to result in a CFPA-E Fire Protection Qualifications Framework that will clarify relationships between courses in terms of level, breadth and progression opportunities and allow users to reference the qualifications to other frameworks.

Explosions in sprinkler system probably caused by hydrogen gas

Sprinklercentral-2

The development of flammable gases in the pipework is the probable cause of the explosions that occurred in two sprinkler systems, injuring several technical employees, back in 2014. A chemical reaction between zinc and water in the pipe system can easily form a flammable hydrogen gas that can lead to an explosion in certain situations. This is one of the conclusions in a new report published via Finance Norway.

In 2014, there were explosions in two different sprinkler systems in Denmark. The first occurred at the premises of the Danish company Movianto in Greve, where a service engineer was injured, even though the explosion actually moved out into the open air. And, shortly afterwards, in the department store Magasin in Lyngby north of Copenhagen, where an installation contractor was burned because an explosion occurred in a large pressure storage tank in a small room with the result that the explosion was particularly powerful. On both occasions, the sprinkler system ignited and exploded due to a flammable gas in the system following the draining of water.

A new technical report published via Finance Norway concludes that hydrogen can be formed due to a chemical reaction in the ‘wet’ zinc-coated pipe system. As zinc-coated pipe installations are often used in sprinkler systems in Denmark, the report’s conclusions constitute extremely important information – not least for those people who work with sprinkler systems.

– There was obviously a chemical reaction between the zinc and the water in the pipe, after which the hydrogen in the water was secreted and ignited by sparks created during the emptying of water in the sprinkler installation, explains Anders Frost-Jensen, Director in DBI.

Only in Scandinavia
Flemming Lindegaard, an inspector with the Danish Working Environment Authority, also points to a clear link between hydrogen in the pipe system and the explosion which occurred in Magasin. The secreted hydrogen has thus formed gas pockets and increased the pressure in the closed piping in the system. The gas escaped during operational and maintenance work, whereby the pipes were opened in order to discharge the water. In the open air, the gas mixed with the oxygen, reaching a critical concentration, which was then ignited by sparks from tools. This trio, consisting of a source of ignition, a flammable gas and oxygen, led to combustion which resulted in an explosion that was so powerful that, in the worst case scenario, can move concrete walls.

– We have, via our international work, made inquiries regarding experiences in the area throughout Europe. However, it is a phenomenon that we have only experienced in Scandinavia so far, says Anders Frost-Jensen, before elaborating:

– There can be several explanations as to how we are witnessing these explosions now and hearing about flames resulting from maintenance work. The fact is that within the last ten years we have been working with zinc-coated piping in sprinkler systems instead of black steel pipes, and the results from Norway show that the risk of an explosion is greater when zinc pipes are used. Moreover, it seems that it is possible to prove a link to the quality of the water in the area in which the installation is located, including the pH value of the water quality, because it could have helped increase the production of hydrogen in the pipe system, he explains.

Revision of sprinkler guidelines
In collaboration with a Standing Technical Committee, DBI now intends to incorporate the relevant conditions and experiences from Norway into the Danish sprinkler guidelines so that the risk of further accidents related to operational and maintenance work on sprinkler systems is minimised as far as possible.

– However, we are already able to make some recommendations and emphasise the importance of checking for abnormal increases in pressure in pipe systems and use non-sparking tools when emptying water from the system, says Anders Frost-Jensen.

In addition, the Danish Working Environment authority has issued a number of recommendations as to how work on sprinkler systems can be carried out safely. These include the use of gas detectors or explosimeters for measuring the concentration of hydrogen, recommending that no work is being carried out while the sprinkler system is being emptied, ensuring that there is good ventilation while the system is being emptied so that any hydrogen is removed from the site it is generated, and that electrical installations in the sprinkler room are installed correctly so that the generation of sparks is avoided.