Category Archives: Fire

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.

Explosion of white dust on black background.

Dust explosion risks in the metalworking industry

The project has focused on the risks of dust explosions and any fire that may arise in various manufacturing processes where metal dust is formed. The work has included studying available statistics to get a better picture of frequency, cause and effect in connection with explosions that occurred, but also to study some real incidents in detail to give examples of events and in some cases also measures taken to reduce the risk of similar events occurring again. In the project, a limited literature review has also been conducted.

Publisher: RISE | Authors: Ken Nessvi och Henry Persson

Proj.no: 601-171 | Year: 2019

To read the full and original article click on the following link:

https://www.brandskyddsforeningen.se/globalassets/brandforsk/rapporter-2019/brandforsk_damm_explosionsrisker_metallidustrier_rapport.pdf

The world’s tallest and safest timber building

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The prestige building, Mjøstårnet in Norway, proves that timber can be used when building to a height. The level of fire safety is high with a number of passive measures and a reinforced sprinkler system, which also covers parts of the facade.

In Norway, the world’s tallest timber building is located. It is called Mjøstårnet and was completed in March 2019. The supporting structure comprises enormous glued timber pellets. The stairway and lift shafts are of CLT (Cross Laminated Timber). The same material was also used for the balconies on the upper storeys. The storeys up to the 11th floor comprise a building system of timber and rock wool. And, of course, the facade is also timber.

– Even though we have extensive experience in building with timber in Norway, Mjøstårnet is an unusual building, says Even Andersen, Senior Fire Engineer in Sweco in Norway and fire consultant for Mjøstårnet.

– It is a prestige project in the field of building with timber. The rules in the area have been the same for many years, but it has only been within the last few years that we have started to build to a height with timber. The environmental and climate aspects are of crucial importance in this development, he says.

Withstands a natural progression of a fire
Another aspect that has to be taken into consideration when building timber tower blocks is fire safety.

– The organisation of fire safety is function-based, and takes as its point of departure the presumption that the building must be able to withstand a natural fire progression, which we have modelled on the basis of Eurocode 1, and which takes account of the timber’s contribution to the fire, says Even Andersen.

The pre-accepted solution stipulates that the supporting structure in taller buildings must be non-combustible and be able to withstand a fire for 90 minutes. In the case of Mjøstårnet,  it was decided that the construction must be able to withstand a natural fire progression which corresponds to a standard fire of less than 90 minutes. Moreover, the building must be able to handle a standard fire for 120 minutes.

– All scenarios and fire progressions have been calculated and are far shorter than 90 minutes. Moreover, the supporting structure has an even greater resistance to fire than we assumed was needed, explains Even Andersen.

The fire safety documentation is controlled by a third party, and even though the emergency services do not have a regulatory authority role in Norway, they have been involved in the dialogue along the way.

A timber frame remains
In connection with the construction, Sweco had fire tests carried out on the glued timber pellets of which the supporting structure was to comprise. The pellets were tested by SP Fire Research and were exposed to the ISO Standard fire curve for 90 minutes. The test showed that the pellets developed a carbonised surface which protected the underlying timber against the fire. And, when the furnaces were turned off, the carbonisation stopped by itself after a while.

– The glued timber pellets are of considerable dimensions, and a relatively small section of them burns away in a fire. Therefore, they are fairly resistant in a fire. Also, they are self-extinguishing if there is nothing around them to feed the fire. Based on the tests, we have calculated that, in a fire that is not tackled but is allowed to develop and burn out, the supporting structure maintains its resistance and leaves behind a timber frame, even if the rest of the building burns away, says Even Andersen.

Its excellent properties mean that the glued timber pellets do not require any further protection or covering, but that they can be visible in the tower’s interior. Any visible timber in escape routes and the stairwell has been fireproofed.

A multitude of fire sections and cells
The weak points in the structure are the steel plates and the dowels placed at the pellet joints. Therefore, spaces and gaps around the joints are endowed with a material that expands at 150 degrees and protects the joints. Each storey constitutes its own fire section, and every single hotel room and apartment is its own fire cell. Every horizontal division structure is dimensioned to be able to remain standing if the overlying horizontal division structure collapses. The horizontal division structures for the top floors are made of concrete, but not because of the fire risk – the concrete adds extra weight to the building, which prevents it swaying too much and making the residents feel ill.

– The facade has been fireproofed and consists of elements which all have cavity barriers in the event of a fire in the cavity. In addition, there are cavity barriers over all the windows, adds Even Andersen.

The swimming pool is a reservoir
On the active side, the building has full sprinkler coverage with a reinforced sprinkler system which also covers the lowermost storeys of the facade in order to prevent incidents due to pyromania or criminality. The communal water supply is good and ensures an abundant supply of water under normal circumstances.

– If extra water is required, the swimming pool – which is part of the building and lies up and down the tower – functions as a reservoir. That is a rarity in Norway, says Even Andersen.

The building also has an automatic fire alarm system with a direct connection to the local emergency services and riser pipes in all stairwells, which have been dimensioned to enable the emergency services to fight the fire from just one of the tower’s stairwells. The stairwells are equipped with overpressure relief valves, and there is also a control room from which the emergency services can easily survey the building and see exactly where the alarm has gone off and where the sprinklers have been triggered.

– Building to a height with timber does not go without its risks, and you have to know what you are doing. Mjøstårnet is located in rural surroundings and it is completely different from building in, for example, the middle of the city where the risk of the fire spreading is different. So, even if it is possible to build to a height in timber, that doesn’t mean that it is always the right thing to do, concludes Even Andersen.

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The Internet of Things and New Potentials Better Fire Safety or a Safety Risk?

New technologies and web connectivity open up new prospects for making everyday life and living safer. While the IoT, the Internet of Things, provides an opportunity for improving safety, it may also generate safety risks. Information security, in particular, often receives little attention, as the Fire Prevention Technology Development Group points out.

System control, which is increasingly web-based, and remote services are modern features of fire safety equipment as well. For example, reliability has improved along with the development of technology.

The integration of fire safety systems will become more commonplace and uncomplicated in the future. As products are entering the market, information security solutions are often overlooked .

New solutions are also being introduced to control heating, ventilation and air conditioning as this is seen as financially advantageous. The same applies to firefighting equipment.

If sensors and other new technologies, such as the IoT, were integrated, it would be possible to better anticipate accidents and save both during the installation of automation as well as in construction costs. The introduction of remote services can also bring benefits. They achieve savings by making time management more efficient, so long as the actions are correctly targeted from the outset, as well as bring about indirect savings from lower travel expenses.

– When it comes to the design of these safetyrelated products, their safety principles may have been inadequate. Only a few products meet national or international standards.

As regards IoT products connected with the fire safety, care must be taken to see to it that they meet the requirements of the authorities and the insurance companies, says Petri Mero, Head of Loss Prevention, Finance Finland.

Information security is often only identified at the technical level. When working with networked equipment attention must be paid to processes and systematic approaches as well as to preparedness and personnel training. Human skills are essential.

Intelligent fire alarm systems, for example, utilise IoT technology. In addition to sounding alarms locally, they also send alarms to smartphones. Consequently, the owner must make sure that the alarms will be relayed to the necessary recipients so that the information does not only remain inside the equipment or at the location.

Notifications can be relayed to equipment users, the maintenance organisation or the alarm centre. Occasionally marketing efforts make the misleading claim that information is sent from equipment at home to the Emergency Response Centre, for example.

In addition to intelligent fire detectors, it is also possible to network old smoke detectors so long as they are fitted with intelligent batteries. Both solutions can be controlled with smartphone applications. The most modern fire detection systems can be connected to the Internet so that they can be controlled via computer user interfaces from anywhere.

Even unexpected data may advance criminal activity.

System designers consider an uncomplicated and undemanding introduction into use and use of their product very important so as to make their solutions attractive to users. User-friendliness may cause security risks.

The programs of the IoT systems often require regular updates so as to protect the data they transmit. Also, that fact that operating systems in equipment are often connected to platforms, such as Android or IOS, makes them both userfriendly and vulnerable to risks.

Equipment in open networks always provides an easy target for third parties. This means that the user – the human – must be the key element responsible for updating equipment and programs, and for necessary safeguards such as up-to-date firewalls and secure networks

Data collection and management also generate risks for information and cybersecurity and for data protection.

– Even as trivial an issue as hacking into thermostats may provide valuable information to burglars; for example, it may reveal whether a family is at home or away on holiday.

If the shields are easily broken, the hacker will gain vast amounts of information such as whether the front door or the garage door is locked, etc. Furthermore, personal information, including credit card information, may be at risk. Open, hence vulnerable, equipment may be subjected to indirect “attacks”, in which case the individual piece of equipment is not the target of malicious activity. Unprotected equipment may be used for purposes such as overloading building automation systems, says Matti Helkamo, Director of New Business and Technology, Siemens.

Information security can be addressed at home and at the workplace by paying attention to the following points:

  • Functioning networks and secure signal strengths. Using the required network structures, firewalls and passwords.
  • Documented implementation and an identifiable system structure.
  • Appropriate and interoperable components are in use.
  • The user as well as and the reason for and time of using remote access are known.
  • There is a plan for remote access, and remote maintenance personnel are identified through access permits.

– Firefighting must be viewed from a wider perspective in which the evaluation of human behaviour and implemented technology can improve proactive fire prevention. As information processing capability keeps growing, equipment and the data they compile must remain both user-friendly and safe, says Lauri Lehto, Safety and Security Expert, 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.

Lauri Lehto
Safety and Security Expert
The Finnish National Rescue Association SPEK

Link to original

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Systems Perspective on Industrial Fire Safety – a study on fire safety organisation 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

To read the full article click on the following link:
https://www.brandskyddsforeningen.se/globalassets/brandforsk/rapporter-2019/brandforsk_600_161_rapport.pdf

The Integrated Fire Protection File

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A communication, economic management, and prevention tool for a successful fire protection project.

The conception of the fire protection of a building is a major project. Indeed, it does not only include fire protection installations such as detection or fire suppression systems, but also the organisational and architectural aspects. Each element of the project has interactions with the others.

They are not independent elements but a set of interdependent elements, evolving in parallel and in a complementary way to form an effective and efficient fire protection.

To achieve this objective, it is essential to establish effective communication between the different actors as from the early stage of the design or renovation phase of a building. That is the meaning of the “Integrated Fire protection File”.

For this purpose, ANPI proposes an “integrated” approach that has the advantage of raising awareness among all parties concerned with fire protection equipment on regulatory, design, installation, current and operational management aspects from the initial stage of a construction, renovation or modification project until its effective use till the destruction of the building.

Decisions taken alone and/or without consultation are cause of problems in the future and lead to ineffectiveness and inadequacy of the installed protective measures. This type of situation is common and leads not only to delivery delays, but also to significant additional costs associated to the modifications required by the inspection authorities/bodies.

The Integrated Fire Protection File is above all an economic management tool! It avoids additional costs at the end of the construction site since it allows all applicable requirements to be integrated from the very beginning of the project!

There are too many examples of such errors:

  • The capacity of a new dancing hall was reduced – the emergency exits were too narrow.

  • A cinema complex was closed due to inefficient smoke extraction system.

  • A fire in a new storage space in large department store – they forgot to adapt the fire detection system.

  • The sprinkler installation made inefficient by new high-rise shelving.

  • Etc.

What should have been done to avoid these non-conformities? – Consult each other.

The contracting authority and its safety advisor, architects and design offices, requesting authorities, insurers, project managers, technical inspectors and specialised companies (subcontractors) should have to analyse together the various risk parameters and their regulatory implications. They have to work together to develop the fire prevention and protection measures to be taken into account, and together determine the permissible residual risk.

This will result in a collegial decision that incorporates the opinions of authorities, rescue services, insurers and control bodies that normally are involved at the end of the process.

ANPI therefore recommends that all aspects of the building or renovation project should be integrated into a single document, the “Integrated File”, which will follow the same logic at all stages of the project, including the installation and modification of fire protection equipment:
– Regulatory aspect

- Risk analysis

- Tender specifications – and writing of the order form

- Study of plans

- Receipt and initial inspection

- Maintenance and periodic inspection

It resumes the framework of the future building’s fire protection procedures and includes a description of the building’s location, environmental factors, operating function(s) and operational processes.

In some aspects, the “Integrated File” may be similar to the “Fire Prevention File” required by the Belgian legislation on Health and Safety at Work or the “Subsequent Intervention File” required by the legislation on Temporary Work Sites, but its approach is much more complete because it integrates the organizational aspects into the purely “technical” aspects of an equipment, details concerning procedures, risk analysis, verification, maintenance and control.

Today, in the light of its experience as accredited inspection body, ANPI hopes to introduce this approach not only during the construction of a building but also during any decision involving the selection, purchase, installation, acceptance and inspection of fire protection equipment or installations.

This “Integrated Fire Equipment File” should include:

(a) stakeholders: the parties and persons involved: their interest, their role in the design, implementation and adoption of the project;

(b) the operational analysis, i.e. the intended use and the conditions set for that use;

(c) occupancy and use characteristics: the type of occupancy, industrial procedures, characteristic functions;

(d) The description and characteristics likely to impact the fire protection equipment of the structure and its environment, equipment and processes and their possible impact on fire safety. This chapter details the characteristics of the fire protection installations and equipment required at each stage of the project, considering the presence of other equipment that may affect the spread of fire or the effectiveness of fire protection systems:

And of course also:

e) information about the building and structure;

f) environment characteristics: extinguishing water sources, flow/pressure characteristics of the public network;

g) the possible impact of outdoor activities;

h) access for emergency services – travel time from the firehouse;

i) the evacuation concept with a description of the organisation and material means of evacuation, both for the structure as a whole and for specific situations;

j) emergency procedures and necessary equipment are considered at all levels from the design phase, from the construction site to the commissioning of the structure;

These involve:

- the organisation and training of the internal intervention service (internal fire-fighting service);

- organizational measures in the event of an evacuation and safety procedures related to fire procedures;

- measures to limit the economic, environmental (resilience plan) and alarm consequences of neighbouring authorities and/or populations;

k) the implementing regulations.

Tender specifications, maintenance and inspection of the equipment are integral part of the document. Each point covered will be documented (reason for the decision or not) in order to build up over time the history of the equipment and thus better understand the limits and advantages of the equipment in place.

At the same time, ANPI wants all parties to keep in mind that the safety of people is paramount. The objective is neither to meet an obligation nor to be released from any liability, but rather to ensure that each actor acts as best as possible to improve the safety of people and property, reduce the fire risk and limit its consequences.

At each stage, the reflection must lead the parties involved to go beyond the “limits” of regulatory obligations to ensure effective fire protection.

To learn more about the Integrated File by ANPI:

  • DTD 163 Projet de protection incendie réussi ! – Les prérequis dès la conception
  • DTD 166 Votre dossier intégré de protection incendie : La pratique (Conseils pour bien rédiger votre dossier Equipements de protection incendie »

Documents available in French and Dutch on https://www.anpi.be/fr/eshop

Wild fires in the USA mobilise the fire brigade’s elite troops

Skovbrande-i-USA

Every year, wild fires cause havoc in the USA. They cause people to flee, cost billions and can continue for weeks. When such a fire needs to be brought under control, the authorities enlist the help of the elite firemen – also known as ‘hotshot crews’.

In the USA they have a season we don’t have in Europe: Fire season. This is the time of year when  cause havoc, particularly in the western part of the USA. In 2015, they had the worst season ever, when more than 40,400 km2 went up in smoke. And in 2018 it was even more disastrous, with the fires in California resulting in many fatalities.

More frequent droughts and increasing temperatures as a result of climate change only make the problem much worse. Therefore, combating wild fires in the USA requires a massive effort. And that massive effort in particular is what the so-called ‘hotshots’ provide. They are the fire brigade’s elite troops who specialise in wild fires and are called on to fight the worst and biggest wild fires all over the USA. In the wilderness they create ‘fire lines’ – i.e. Fire belts in the terrain, the purpose of which is to limit the spread of the fires. This is done by hand – using power saws and axes – or by means of controlled burning, when the direction of the wind is favourable.

The most dangerous tasks
There are around 100 hotshot crews in the USA, each of which comprises 20 firemen. They undergo intensive training in all forms of fire fighting tactics, and the physical requirements are rigorous.  Normally, they are sent out into the wilderness without logistical support in order to create fire lines in shifts lasting up to 48-64 hours for several weeks in a row.

The firemen in every hotshot crew each have their own roles to play. Some of them are trained in first aid, while others are highly specialised lumberjacks who are able to cut down dead or burning trees. Others create fire lines by cutting down vegetation bordering the fire and moving the cut down trees into the fire.

They risk their lives
It is dangerous work, so even if you are one of the best, every now and again it costs human lives. Therefore, all hotshots carry a ‘fire shelter’ which they can use if the fire encircles them. It is designed to withstand flames and radiant heat and contains sufficient breathable air so that the fireman, in an emergency situation, can roll out the fire cover, crawl into it and survive.

However, there are no guarantees. In 1994, nine hotshot member perished in the flames in Oregon when a rapidly moving fire engulfed them. And in 2013, a particularly rapidly moving and violent fire cut a hotshot crew off from their escape route in the wilderness in Arizona. The fire spread more quickly than the crew were able to run and the violent wind created 70 metre high flames and temperatures of approximately 1,100 degrees. The crew were encircled and all of them perished.

If hotshots are the elite troops, smokejumpers are the parachute troops. They jump out of an aeroplane instead of driving or trekking to the fires. The rapid mobilisation means that they can often contain the fire before it grows too big and gets out of control.

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The EU Fire Safety Guide

Over the past decades, Europe has achieved substantial improvements in fire safety thanks to the continuous adjustment and implementation of fire safety strategies. As a result of comprehensive approaches, fire fatalities have fallen by 65% in Europe over the last 30 years.

However, more needs to be done as fire safety in buildings remains a major societal issue. According to statistics, it is estimated that, in Europe, around 5000 people a year are killed due to building fires.

All actors involved should intensify their efforts in finding and implementing effective solutions.

According to the subsidiarity principle, fire safety is a national competence, but the European Union also has a role to play.Most of the fatalities from fire happen in residential fires that are preventable .

To achieve this, fire safety in buildings requires a holistic approach from preventing the start of any fire to containing and extinguishing it.

In this guide, we present the seven layers of fire safety that must be considered to protect citizens and buildings, and how each of these can be improved.

 

To read the full article click on the following link:

http://www.modernbuildingalliance.eu/EU-fire-safety-guide

 

Extinguishers-Are-Effective-in-Stopping-Fires-from-Developing

Extinguishers Are Effective in Stopping Fires from Developing

Automatic water extinguishers protect life and property reliably. They play an especially important role in improving the safety of living. The Fire Prevention Technology Development Group emphasises that water mist extinguishers and sprinkler systems are the most effective way to prevent fire fatalities for disabled people, especially.

Automatic extinguishers are designed to put out or limit a fire until the rescue personnel arrive. The equipment activates in response to a higher heat level within the space. According to an American study, in buildings that had a sprinkler system installed sprinkler heads activated in 92 per cent of the fires.

The equipment is very reliable and false activations are extremely rare. Moreover, all of the sprinkler heads do not activate simultaneously. Rather, only the ones that are affected by elevated temperatures do.

Automatic extinguishers are designed to spray water in a real situation until they are turned off. It is likely that the subsequent water damage will be smaller than fire losses and smoke damage resulting from a freely advancing fire. In Finland, on average, it takes approximately 17 minutes from an alarm for firefighters to begin their action. An uncontrolled fire will developradically in that time frame and may also endanger human life.

– The activation of sprinklers does not increase the total sum of the fire losses, sums up Esko Rantanen, Chief Fire Inspector, Helsinki City Rescue Department.

It is possible to significantly improve fire safety, especially for older and disabled people, by installing automatic extinguishing equipment.

The rapidly increasing number of elderly people is yet another challenge from the viewpoint of safety of living. Portable extinguishers are one solution to improve the situation.

Different extinguishing systems are mutually complementary.

Fire safety is best achieved when risk situations are identified early on so that the situation does not develop into a full-blown fire.
Fire prevention must always be considered in its entirety and, therefore, in addition to the protection that extinguishers provide, smoke alarms (Automatic Detection Systems), likewise, improve safety.
With a smoke alarm information of an emerging fire is the most reliably and most likely the soonest alarm the Emergency Response Centre receives. Automatic Detection Systems provides the time to react to a situation as soon as possible, and the extinguishing equipment enables safe evacuation and rescue during a fire.

Automatic extinguishing system does not render the other firefighting action unnecessary.

– When a sprinkler has activated and slowed down a fire the rescue personnel can more rapidly gain control of the situation. At the same time, the extinguishing equipment improves the occupational safety of firefighters, says Esko Rantanen.

According to an American study non-functioning extinguishers are often the result of human action. In 59 per cent of the cases where the equipment failed, it had been switched off. Other key mistakes included turning off the system too soon during a fire as well as poor maintenance. In only seven per cent of the cases where the system failed could the reason be attributed to a technical fault.

The role of the human is especially highlighted in system maintenance. It is essential to properly maintain the extinguishing equipment so that they properly function when needed. Failing to maintain them may endanger the people in the building, and result in major financial loss.

– A sprinkler is the first line of defence at the scene of a fire, but it only works if it has been maintained professionally and responsibly, points out Arja Rantala, Finnish Sprinkler Engineers Association.

The Fire Prevention Technology Development Group emphasises the importance of planning fire safety in its entirety. Proper maintenance and wellserviced equipment ensure business continuity at the site.

– No technical implementation at the site eliminates the need for human action, underscores Lauri Lehto, Safety and Security Expert, 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.
Lauri Lehto
Safety and Security Expert
The Finnish National Rescue Association SPEK

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