Category Archives: Fire

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Last week in Italy three firefighters have died due to an intentional explosion of gas bombs. Funds are being raised for families.

E’ con profondo dolore che il Corpo nazionale sta vivendo queste giornate di lutto per la scomparsa di Matteo GASTALDO, Marco TRICHES e Antonio CANDIDO, i tre colleghi vigili del fuoco deceduti durante l’intervento di Quargnento.
La squadra composta da cinque vigili del fuoco del comando provinciale di Alessandria era intervenuta intorno alla mezzanotte per la segnalazione di un incendio di abitazione. Giunta sul posto verificava la presenza di un cascinale composto da due edifici, quello più piccolo interessato da un’esplosione d’intensità non particolarmente importante.

Notato all’interno dello stesso un principio d’incendio e segni evidenti di effrazione a una delle finestre, la squadra penetrava rinvenendo nel locale due bombole di GPL con collegato un piccolo apparecchio, che faceva pensare a un timer. Spente le fiamme e messe in sicurezza le bombole, la squadra procedeva alla verifica del secondo corpo di fabbrica, più grande. Dopo le ore 01.00, riscontrati anche su questo dei segni di effrazione a una delle finestre, in accordo anche con i colleghi dei carabinieri, i vigili del fuoco entravano all’interno, quando venivano investiti dalla seconda e devastante esplosione, che produceva il crollo totale della struttura. La natura di questa esplosione è in corso di accertamento da parte dell’Autorità giudiziaria, con rilievi tecnici svolti dai carabinieri e dai tecnici del NIA dei vigili del fuoco.

Nell’esplosione restavano feriti gli altri due componenti della squadra, il caposquadra Giuliano DODERO e il vigile Graziano LUCA TROMBETTA, oltre al carabiniere, ricoverati il primo nell’ospedale di Alessandria e in quello di Asti gli altri due.

Sul posto si sono recati nel primo pomeriggio il ministro dell’Interno Luciana Lamorgese, insieme al Capo Dipartimento dei Vigili del fuoco Salvatore Mulas e al Capo del Corpo nazionale dei Vigili del fuoco Fabio Dattilo, che hanno poi verificato in ospedale condizioni dei tre feriti.Donazione (1)

VdS_Qatar

Qatar expands VdS-acceptance

The Ministry of the Interior of Qatar has renewed and significantly expanded its demands for VdS-approved products. In addition, VdS also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Fire & Security Association. You´ll find details in the attached press release.

Cologne/Germany, November 5th, 2019. VdS-Guidelines set safety standards in numerous countries. The “Fire Prevention Department – Safety Systems Division” of the Qatar Ministry of the Interior has now not only renewed its acceptance of VdS-approved products and systems, but has also significantly expanded it. The current “Recognised Product Certification Bodies” official letter comprises for VdS two pages with accepted fire alarm, extinguishing and smoke extraction technologies.

“The demands of the authorities in Doha underline the high level of trust in the performance of our laboratory engineers as well as in the expertise of our clients, who design and construct the reliable life-saving techniques,” emphasises Gunnar Bellingen, Head of the VdS Fire Protection Laboratories. “We are very pleased that our Seal of Quality is also regarded as a particularly reliable brand for safety in Qatar, as it is in many other countries around the world”.

VdS also supports its partners in the Emirates at “Intersec Dubai”, the largest sector trade fair in the region (January 19th – 21st). Furthermore, a Memorandum of Understanding has just been signed with the Fire & Security Association of India (FSAI), also in Dubai, which specifies future intensive technical exchange.

Caption Qatar: The authorities of Qatar are expanding their acceptance of VdS-approved fire protection systems – which have proven in comprehensive tests that they reliably save lives (pictured a sprinkler head release).

About VdS:

VdS is one of the world’s most renowned institutions for corporate safety and security. 500 experts offer a unique range of services for fire protection, security, cyber-security and natural hazard prevention.
Services include risk assessments, testing and certification, inspections, information systems for natural hazards and an extensive training program. In addition, the independent institute sets international safety and security standards with the publication of a comprehensive set of Guidelines.
The optimal protection of our partners is based on a worldwide unique safeguarding concept whose reliability builds on more than 110 years of VdS-experience, combining all core aspects of loss prevention. Decision-makers around the world rely on VdS-approved reliability and certainty.

More information at vds-global.com

 

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Participation of CFPA Europe in health and safety conference “Ambiente Lavoro” in Bologna

“CFPA Europe was invited to the health and safety conference “Ambiente Laboro” in Bologna and a special seminar with approx. 150 people was arranged on 15th October. Besides several speakers from Italy we had three CFPA E speakers who was guesting Italy. Our Director Tommy Arvidsson gave an introduction to the work that we are doing and Hardy Rusch talked about our Guidelines and John Briggs about our harmonized training courses.

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CFPA E’s member organisation in Italy has just got a new Director Francesco Santi and he and Mr Guido Zaccarelli who is active in some of our Commissions gave also presentations at the seminar. Some other speakers came from different companies in Italy and several underlined the CFPA E’s Guidelines big value.”

Development_hot_work_safety

Development of hot work safety training

One of the aims of the Finnish National Rescue Association is to develop training concepts and promote safe working methods. In Finland, hot work safety training has been provided since 1988. So far, hot work training has been completed more than 1.74 million times.

The content of hot work training has naturally evolved over time, and has emphasised slightly different things in different decades. The dangers posed by gases have been highlighted, for example, while the second year introduced a greater focus on the functionality of fire extinguishers. The main theme of training at the moment is risk assessment.

Better awareness of the risks means people are better able to prepare for them. It is worth remembering that although many aspects may feel extremely familiar, it is important to update and maintain professional skills. Hot work training is not just about gaining a licence, it is also a question of professional expertise. In an emergency, people’s minds tend to go blank so what to do needs to become automatic.

Cooperation between a number of actors and bodies

Developing hot work training is the result of longterm effort. According to statistics produced by Finance Finland (FFI), the number of major fires caused by hot work has fallen over the period in which training has been required, from just under 40% to less than 5% of all major fires.

The reduction in the number of fires caused by hot work shows that hot work training has passed on important knowledge and skills over the years. However, achieving these results has taken cooperation between many different actors.

Over the years, SPEK has worked with the Confederation of Finnish Insurance Companies (now Finance Finland), AGA, the Finnish Roofing Association, the Finnish Association of Fire Chiefs and the Finnish Construction Trade Union.

This collaboration needed expertise from the Finnish insurance industry, experience of industrial firefighting, the input of experts in rescue organisations and Nordic co-operation.

The training gained its current status under the guidance of the insurance sector, while fire safety experts in companies and institutions backed the establishment of safe hot work processes by making training compulsory for their own staff and their contractors. The teaching sector was actively involved and incorporated hot work safety training in vocational education. Organisations in the rescue sector took responsibility for training trainers, for national course management and ensuring the quality of the training.

In practice, however, the greatest thanks are due to the course leaders who have been training people new to hot work, those who grant licences and hot work guards, year after year.

We want to continue developing our training and ensure that we are able to guarantee its quality into the future. Personally, when it comes to developing the training, I think the most important aspect is listening to the needs of the workplace.

Also taking into account the different backgrounds of the trainees enables us to develop learning pathways that best serve them. In the future, we will definitely be seeing more of trends such as e-learning as part of hot work training. However, training as a whole cannot be fully carried out online as practical exercises on the ground are an important part of the learning process.

As the training changes, monitoring has to change with it.Our audits and the high standards we set for trainers are ways in which we strive to maintain high-quality training provision.

International collaboration creates opportunities

As the training changes, monitoring has to change with it. Our audits and the high standards we set for trainers are ways in which we strive to maintain high-quality training provision.
At company level, the number of fires caused by hot work has declined and health and safety associated with hot work has improved.
And most importantly, training has increased the ability of citizens to identify and combat fire risks, to act correctly in the event of an accident and to carry out fire extinguishing measures.

“We will continue to improve hot work safety – together!”

31.1.2019
Heli Hätönen
Head of Development
The Finnish National Rescue Association, SPEK

Link to original

Moniteur prevnetion Infographie 2018 F

The situation of fire prevention in Belgium – Results of the population survey

The Belgian Ministry of the Interior and ANPI organise every two years a survey on the population’s knowledge and sensitivity to fire prevention messages.

2143 people over 25 years old in all regions, social conditions, education and housing type were interviewed between 24 September and 12 October 2018.

The items covered in particular:

– contacts with the prevention sector (firefighters, architects and insurers),
– known and applied preventive measures,
– the presence or absence and proper use of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, fire blankets and the implementation of an evacuation plan,
– building equipments,
– the Ministry’s prevention campaigns.

The results are available on https://www.anpi.be/fr/moniteur-de-la-prevention-incendie

industry

Project SEBRA Systems Perspective on Industrial Fire Safety – a study on fire safety organization and usability

Project SEBRA Systems Perspective on Industrial Fire Safety – a study on fire safety organization and usability

At the industrial workplace, conflicts may occur between production and fire safety solutions, sometimes to the point where fire protective routines or installations are bypassed. A common answer to such issues is to strengthen administrative barriers such as rules, safety information and training. However, in an industrial organization where resources are already strained, even more checks and routines will only run the risk of aggravating the problem at hand.

Publisher: RISE | Authors: Helene Degerman och Staffan Bram

Proj.no: 600-161 | Year: 2019

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Read summary in Swedish

Read summary in English

fire_sectioning

Fire Sectioning in the Attic Can Save a Terraced House from Total Destruction

In older terraced houses the attic can be a single open space, extending from one end of the building to the other. This means that a fire in one flat can spread to the entire building through the attic. The end result may be total destruction. The Finnish National Rescue Association (SPEK) recommends that all open space attics in so far unsectioned terraced houses be sectioned with fire resistant structures.

Fires in terraced houses often progress so that the heat breaks a window through which hot fire gases and smoke break out, accumulating at first under the eaves. Then they make their way into the attic. If the attic is not sectioned with smoke proof structures, the entire attic space fills with smoke.
The fire can also break through a flat’s ceiling and spread directly into the attic. When there is enough hot smoke, the attic catches fire along its entire length.

This may be the case, particularly, in houses built before October 1990. The building code for terraced houses built after that requires sectioning of individual flats in such a manner that their adjoining walls extend all the way to the roof. Such sectioning delays the spread of fire for at least 30 minutes and the fire cannot easily spread from one flat to another through the attic. Sectioning also makes firefighting easier.
On average, approximately 300 terraced houses catch fire in Finland each year and news of totally destroyed terraced houses is not rare.
Therefore, SPEK recommends voluntary attic sectioning renovations for all such terraced houses where this has not yet been implemented.

Sectioning can be achieved after construction, for example, by installing suitable solid, flameresistant side shields on roof trusses. It is also important to tightly pack the insulation against the roofing material at the top.
When needed, soft mineral wool can be used to achieve this. Then the smoke cannot make its way around the insulating sheets to spread the fire. Sectioning, or the lack of it, can be checked by peeking into the attic. If it is possible to see both of the end walls through the building, sectioning is inadequate by modern safety standards.

– The easiest way to incorporate the change is when it is done during a roof renovation, at which time it is possible to tightly insulate even the low end spaces of the attic. At best, it is possible to section the attic at each flat’s adjoining walls, akin to new construction.
However, since this is a voluntary measure, it may not necessarily achieve the same standard as new buildings. Still, any sectioning in the attic will improve safety, hints Ilpo Leino, Head of Security, Finnish National Rescue Association.
What is the Fire Prevention Technology Development Group?

The Fire Prevention Technology Development Group is a group of experts whose shared goal is to advance safety and to develop the service and maintenance, qualityand technical prospects of fire prevention technology. The environment is constantly developing and fire prevention must stay up-to-date to meet the new challenges.

1.6.2018
Ilpo Leino
Senior Advisor
The Finnish National Rescue Association, SPEK
Link to original

Delayed alert cost Notre Dame dearly

notre-dame-cfpa

During the fire at Notre Dame in Paris, alerting the fire department was delayed by approx. 25 minutes. This time-lapse may have meant that the fire went from being a problem to a catastrophe.

A complex technical fire safety system, no direct connection to the fire department, human error and a delay of approx. 25 minutes seem to be the reasons why the fire which ravaged Notre Dame in Paris in April had such grave consequences. Now that the smoke had dissipated, the task of identifying what happened has commenced, and several interesting things have emerged from the ashes and been reported in the newspapers Le Monde, Le Canard Enchaîné and the New York Times.

As a national treasure, Notre Dame had its own fire alarm system. It was a rather advanced system which had been developed and designed specifically for the church over a period of six years. Among other things, it consisted of an aspiration system which was installed in 2013 with detectors on the ceiling of the church where the fire broke out. And the system was functional. Because when the fire began to develop, presumably as a smouldering fire, it gave off an alarm.

The fire department was alerted after 30 minutes
But unlike automatic fire alarm systems in some other countries, it was not connected directly to the fire department. Instead, the alarm went directly to the church’s own fire-detection unit. And it was not just any alarm. The complex system sent an equally complex alarm: “Attic Nave Sacristy ZDA-110-3-15-1 aspirating framework”. This referred to a zone in the church and a specific detector which had gone off in a system of more than 160 detectors and manual alarms.

The employee who manned the system and received the alarm had been on the job for three days and was on his second consecutive eight-hour shift. He misinterpreted the alarm and sent a guard to the loft of the small sacristy, which is next to the church itself. He also called his manager who did not pick up the phone. It took 25 minutes after the first alarm went off before the manager called back, the error was discovered and the guard was sent to the ceiling of the actual church. He then quickly instructed the church’s own fire-detection unit to call the fire department. By this time, 30 minutes had passed since the first alarm had gone off, and 25 of them had been wasted by searching for a fire in the wrong place. In the meantime, the fire had begun to spread undisturbed in a loft which was constructed from oak beams which were several hundred years old.

A fatal delay
This is a critical time delay in relation to what emergency services can do in the event of a fire.

– In a building of this age, the difference is whether a fire can be extinguished or merely controlled, says Tim Ole Simonsen, who is Director of Operations and Fire Chief of the Greater Copenhagen Fire Department.

He emphasises that he is not familiar with the exact details of the sequence of events of the fire in Notre Dame, but adds:

– A delay of this calibre will typically mean that there is a lot of smoke which makes it difficult to get to the fire, and there may be the danger of the structure collapsing. If you arrive quickly, you can sometimes extinguish the fire at an early stage. If more time passes, putting the fire out can take 12-24 hours. A delay of 25 minutes is fatal in this respect.

Few false alarms from modern systems
When automatic fire alarm systems in France do not automatically alert the fire department, it is because they do not want to respond to false alarms. Therefore, an alarm must be investigated and confirmed before the fire department is alerted.

– When the systems were introduced many years ago, it is likely that it was taken into consideration whether they should be connected directly to the fire department. But modern automatic fire alarm systems can actually be calibrated so that they never give false alarms in practise. The system in Notre Dame was modern, and for this reason, false alarms should not have been expected from it. It may seem strange that the fire department was not alerted immediately. Roof fires develop in seconds, and a delay of 20-30 minutes is a long time in this context, says Tim Ole Simonsen.

Internet-of-things

IoT (Internet-of-Things) – Utilising IoT technology in developing fire safety in buildings and in a smart environment Tuomas Pylkkänen – Abstract of a master’s thesis at Lappeenranta University of Technology

New possibilities in fire protection

When it comes to emerging technologies and human behaviour, the built environment in Finland is facing new challenges. Accidents and hazardous situations happen to citizens in all age groups.

The challenges of the evolving technological environment impact every level of the population in various ways. Changes in the demographic and the environment significantly impact the safety environment as well. Fire protection technology must correspondingly keep abreast of the development.

Moreover, it must be possible to improve fire protection. It is important to study new trends that may impact the development of fire safety in Finland.

The utilisation of smart and IoT (Internet of Things) technology provides good opportunities for improvements in safe living. One must always remember that, when new technology is developed and introduced, we must also monitor and observe ourselves as well as things in our surroundings. It is important to understand the ecosystem within which we operate, the information we process or the information we replicate over networks.

The history of the IoT is still fairly short even from a global perspective. While the first individual web management solutions were in use as early as the 1990s, the real development in the IoT sphere has taken place during this century. This has been made possible by, among other things, the rapid development of web-based solutions and data transmission.

The IoT, system integration and other proactive action play key roles within the transformation of fire protection. It is all about new possibilities.

Many old-fashioned attitudes regarding fire protection can be seen in the domestic construction business.

The master’s thesis of Tuomas Pylkkänen brings forward the fact that, while new possibilities are regarded as enablers in the construction business, new technology is simultaneously shunned. Obstacles to introducing new modes of implementation are often justified with old, recurring arguments. They point the finger at the functional unreliability of new technology and the lack of harmonised practices. Fears alsoinclude unnecessary extra costs in implementation and maintenability, and the realisation of otheradditional business risks.

Pragmatic thinking about building sites is often fairly short-sighted. Hence, it becomes impossible to realistically take into account the economic potential and lifecycle effects of fire protection technology.

For a long time already, the prevailing attitude has been that installed fire protection technology only returns value for money when it extinguishes or limits an actual fire. However, financial savings, both indirect and direct, are quite significant when the devices operate as planned.
In reality, automatic smoke detection and fire extinguishing systems are in constant readiness, safeguarding business continuity and personal security at the site. Then, the equipment acts as a supporting pillar for business continuity.

Furthermore, it has been observed that end users and occupants are interested in improving their safety, so long as information is available and when the prospects for making a difference can be identified. Now, and in the near future, it must be possible to increasingly evaluate how to get relevant information to those that need it.

Technology’s advancement will not wait and the need for uniform statutes and practices has been identified. Smart buildings and homes will proliferate and develop, regardless of the outdated attitudes within the construction field.

One can only hope that this sector of business, at large, will soon realise that finally, along with the development of other technology, new practices have created the implementations of building automation that are also suitable for fire safety.

Therefore, expert inputs must be conveyed in order to disseminate information and change attitudes. Now is the perfect time to find out how much our present technology meets our perception of the future.

Technologies already in use can offer new possibilities for solving challenges in the near future. Even though uniform standards are desired, and common practices in the new networked environments are still being worked out, this has not hindered the introduction of new IoT solutions, globally.

The risks associated with introducing new innovations are continually diminishing along with the new, developing technologies. The solutions which, in firefighting, pop up as new alternatives may not necessarily constitute new inventions in other automation, only the applications for which they are used have changed.

For this reason, development must in any case be monitored so that experts can continue to meet future challenges. Charting the present situation and also comparing it with what is going on abroad will set the proper base for the needed development and information-gathering. This is how we can provide up-to-date responses to the needs that arise at home.

Change is opportunity

The new Strategy of the Finnish National Rescue Association, which was adopted in the spring of 2018, presents similar questions about the need for experts’ action as does Tuomas Pylkkänen’s master’s thesis.

It is important to evaluate the developing environment and anticipate its challenges. The only permanent thing is change, and change is also an opportunity.

New technologies and web connectivity with automated systems open up new prospects for the development of cost-effective everyday living. New technological solutions can also improve fire safety in dwellings as well as proactive fire prevention. Everyone encounters accidents and hazards. Also the challenges of the technological environment impact everyone in different ways.

Changes in the demographic and the built environment significantly impact the safety environment as well. How will it be possible to utilise new technologies in developing the fire safety of buildings, now and in the future?

The information compiled by the master’s thesis will help experts create a comprehensive picture of the evolving safety environment and utilise the information in advancing the vision of the Strategy. Safe living must be increasingly taken into consideration when decisions are taken on a person’s living conditions; this often applies to the elderly. Safety must be supported in novel, alternative ways, which the what new technological solutions offer.

Human–technology interaction will also continue in the future, which is why the basic premises will not substantially change. The focus will remain on the human.

This being the case, fire protection must be viewed from a wider perspective, one in which the assessment of human behaviour and other technological solutions may develop proactive fire safety. System control is already web-based and remote when it comes to fire safety systems.
System control is already web-based and remote when it comes to fire safety systems. As the processing power of systems increases personal data and devices must remain safe and easy to access in the future as well.

New environments also create the opportunity for making the implementation of fire protection technology more cost-effective. Even today there are strong opinions and attitudes which are no longer relevant to modern fire protection technologies.

One of the findings of the master’s thesis which can be highlighted is the fact that the construction business is old-fashioned and that there is plenty of room for modernisation.
Of course, at the same time it must be noted that the only problem is not simply that consultants and designers, in addition to property developers, noteably need more information about the rapidly advancing system technology.

Increasing attention must be paid to advancing the field of experts . Answers should be sought early on to the following questions: what are the sectors of competency that experts must influence, and how should communications and education be developed. Information must be offered to all who need it in the area of fire protection.

It is particularly important to provide it to the end users, i.e. occupants, so that they will properly understand the importance of networked devices and the issue itself.
Whereas possibilities for also improving attitudes within the ongoing development do exist, the experts must focus more on the future to raise the new technological alternatives and proactive fire safety to the forefront.

As said before, it is very important to improve the international exchange of information and to also search for comparisons from different countries’ implementation cultures. The basic material from the Nordic countries that the master’s thesis compiles will set a good foundation for follow-on reports. The world will always be changing, and this is also evident in fire protection. New technological options such as the IoT can be categorised as opportunities at this stage.

In order for this to be properly understood, more research is needed so as to influence attitudes and to prevent our own approaches from becoming obstacles to progress.
It is also important to establish the solutions which will bring the needed benefits to occupants and property developers so that fire safety will be seen as important. More importantly, these views must coincide.

Lauri Lehto

Safety and Security Advisor

The Finnish National Rescue Association, SPEK

Full abstract in English

Link to original

High density fireproofing of cannabis

Cannabis Drivhuse

Cannabis is being legalised in an increasing number of countries worldwide. Not least in the USA where, up to now, cannabis for recreational use is legal in 10 states. Also, cannabis is increasingly being legalised for medical use. However, the production of cannabis can entail a number of potential fire hazards that we do not experience in the cultivation of other plants.

The increasing legalisation of cannabis means that, in future, there will be production facilities that cultivate hemp plants on an industrial scale. But, growing cannabis is not the same as growing lettuce or watercress. To grow optimally, the plants require very specific conditions, and these conditions can result in fire technical challenges. Therefore, in the USA, they have drawn up guidelines aimed at facilities for producing and extracting cannabis.

– It’s interesting to take a glance at this because they have had legal production facilities over there for a couple of years now, and they have identified several elements of danger, says Mikael N. Gam, a fire safety consultant with DBI, the Danish Institute of Fire & Security Technogogy.

Heat, CO2 and alcohol
Some of these dangers are related to the plants’ need for light. They require light for up to 18 hours a day, and it must be full-spectrum, which is typically achieved by means of incandescent bulbs, which also emit a great deal of heat.

– In addition, it also requires the addition of CO2 to the air in order to ensure optimal photosynthesis, which means gas bottles, which in the event of a fire pose a risk in themselves. Furthermore, the equipment poses a risk of leakages and carbon monoxide poisoning in the event of a fire, says Mikael N. Gam.

On top of that, the plants grow quickly, and this can make it difficult to gain an overview and hamper the fire fighters’ visibility in their efforts to extinguish the fire.  At the same time, the plants are moved around the production facilities, depending on their size, which can block access routes and escape routes.

– When it comes to extracting the substances in the plant, this is done in the production facility with the help of flammable substances, for example, methane, alcohol or CO2. In addition, the production facilities are often protected against theft and break-ins, and this protection must be arranged in such a way that allows the fire fighting service to gain access quickly in the event of a fire, adds Mikael N. Gam.

Newer, but not more dangerous
Therefore, the task in hand is to deal with all the potential fire technical challenges. There is no single solution, but it is important to think about the layout thoroughly. Moreover, the fire fighting authorities must be aware of any particular risks when they respond to an emergency.

– There are aspects of cannabis production that can lead to problems when it comes to fighting a fire. It is not, as such, any more dangerous than many other things, but it is a new area and therefore we should perhaps take a look at the American guidelines in the area, concludes Mikael N. Gam.