Category Archives: Fire

Climate change presents new problems for the emergency services

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The dry summer has caused a record number of wildfires. This may well become the new normal, as climate change suggests that there may be many periods of drought in the future. This will present challenges for the emergency services, who will require new equipment, knowledge and training.

Whether summer 2018, with its extreme temperatures, will retain the record for being the hottest for many years, or whether climate change will make summers such as this the new normal, is a good question.

– Our scenarios indicate that in the future, the summer months will bring more precipitation in Northern Europe and less in Southern Europe. Put another way, there won’t be a great difference in the amount of precipitation, it will just be more divided. It will also be heavier and we can expect longer periods without rain, says Mikael Scharling, a climatologist with the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI).

A higher level of drought requires more weeks dominated by high pressure, which keeps precipitation away. But whether periods of high and low pressure will become longer – such as the period of high pressure we have seen this year, remains to be seen.

New requirements for operational crew and equipment
With more dry periods in the future, operational crew, who have been on overtime this summer, should be prepared for this becoming a regular occurrence.

– If dry periods in summer become the norm, this will place completely new demands on both men and machinery. The summer has presented new challenges to take into account in our risk-based dimensioning, including scenario descriptions and capacity analysis. For example, we have experienced more wildfires and fires in woodland areas, says Emergency Services Manager, Søren Lundhild and goes on to say:

– In woodland, it’s often difficult to gain access with the equipment we have today, and it’s essential that we get in quickly so that a fire does not develop further. I think we have to look into the possibility of acquiring light vehicles such as ATVs with lightweight extinguishing equipment and other materiel.

Forest fires also burn into the roots of trees under the earth, so ground pins with water attached can also become necessary. The use of drones to gain a better overview of the spread of the fire in difficult terrain will also be useful for the fire manager.

– In addition, we will need to look at emergency management statistics to see how we can improve our competences to take the right decisions. We need to capitalise on the experience of outside experts in managing the threats posed by drought. And training must be combined with knowledge of national wind conditions, Lundhild says.

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25 years of qualified training: The course “Fire Safety: Technical Cycle” at VdS

Preventive fire protection in the company must be lived and implemented by people. Well-trained fire protection managers play a decisive role here. For good reason, they are often mandatorily required by building supervisory authorities, the fire brigade or insurance companies. This summer, the VdS Training Centre celebrates the 25th anniversary of the “Fire Safety: Technical Cycle” training course and has successfully trained more than 10,500 participants to date. And all this right from the start, with high demand and very good customer ratings throughout: 99% of the participants recommend the training to others.

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With the start of the course in June 1993, VdS laid the foundation for a regulated, qualified training of fire protection managers in Germany, which was not available before. The intensive and practical training course was developed in close cooperation with the association for the promotion of fire protection in Germany (vfdb) and in accordance with the training model of CFPA Europe. The extensive teaching material with all important topics of fire protection systems, structural and organisational fire protection is taught by more than 10 different speakers, all of whom are both proven specialists and practitioners in their field.

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Today, the course takes place at six German locations with a total of 18 dates per year. Participants come from all industries, from industrial or manufacturing companies as well as from sales outlets, hospitals or public institutions. They appreciate the high quality of the training and above all the practical relevance, as well as the international CFPA certificate, which is recognised in many European countries.

The VdS training centre also provides regular advanced training, which is so important for fire protection managers: graduates can choose from a wide range of fire protection courses and conferences to refresh, enhance or specialise their knowledge.

In 25 years, VdS has conducted almost 600 training courses of “Fire Safety: Technical Cycle” to date, with great response:

“I can only say that I really enjoyed the course – from start to finish it was full of important information for me. In my opinion, such high quality training is essential for any fire protection manager.” (Cornel Gratz, Immanuel Clinic Bernau/Herzzentrum Brandenburg).

Report prepares the ground for new Building Code in the wake of Grenfell Tower

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The first report following the Grenfell Tower fire in London has been published. It comes with recommendations for a new building code and fire safety system in England.

The fire at Grenfell Tower in London in the summer of 2017 cost 74 people their lives. The incident sent shockwaves through British society, and numerous studies into the Building Code, the fire and the response have been initiated. How could it all go so wrong? The report, which looked into the fire aspects of the building regulations in the UK following Grenfell Tower and a number of other fires, has now seen the light of day.  And, it concludes that new rules and systems are required.

– The report criticises the ‘race to the bottom’ when it comes to fire safety and fire technical requirements relating to construction in England, where the rules have been liberalised with no thought given to the consequences. For example, it is possible for developers to choose whether their project is to be inspected by local authority or private inspectors and, and at the same time, there are private inspectors who complain that building plans are never rejected, explains fire safety consultant Anders B. Vestergaard, who participated in the 5th International Tall Building and Safety Conference in London, where the Grenfell fire was top of the agenda.

Overall systems rather than individual materials
The situation has to change, the report underlines, while, at the same time, presenting a number of points that ought to be included in the forthcoming revised Building Code. Before the report came out, the public had high hopes that it would recommend a complete ban on the use of flammable materials on the facades of tall buildings. It didn’t. Instead, it argues that the solutions used in complex building projects are evaluated on a case-by-case basis whereby the overall solution is looked at.

– It’s all well and good discussing the individual materials, but the most important thing is that you give some thought to, and are able to document, the safety of the system overall. It’s difficult. In Denmark, there is a tradition of looking at both the cladding and insulation, but, for example, not at how the individual components are fitted, which also play a role in the overall fire safety properties of the solution, says Anders B. Vestergaard.

Clear division of responsibilities
The report also proposes that the future Building Code should include a clear division of responsibilities.  At the moment, it’s unclear who has responsibility for which aspects of fire safety and at what point in the process, and this results in carelessness and mistakes in this area.

– A classic scenario is that an architect designs a building that meets all the requirements. However, during the building process, the materials are replaced due to, among other things, the cost. Who has responsibility for that? The supplier has no insight into the final solution, and the developer perhaps has used the material in another context, or just does what he normally does. Therefore, it is unclear who has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the finished building reacts as envisaged in the event of a fire, says Anders B. Vestergaard.

This example is roughly what happened with Grenfell Tower, too. Originally, the building was to be clad inflammable insulation and zinc plates, which do not contribute to the spreading of a fire. However, they were replaced with aluminium plates with plastic cores during the building process, which contributed to the spread of the fire.

– Here, the level of knowledge in the industry is crucial. Consultants, inspectors and others must be aware of these things and know the pitfalls, so that something like this never happens,says Anders B. Vestergaard.

With the clear division of responsibilities recommended in the report, it will be easier to check that everyone is fulfilling their responsibilities. And, at the same time, punish those who aren’t. The report recommends that greater action is taken in the future and that the Building Code is given ‘real teeth’ – i.e. the ability to impose serious penalties. Now, the challenge lies in finding the political will to implement the report’s recommendations and produce the Building Code outlined in the report.

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New section on the website about Fire National Regulations of the member countries of CFPA Europe

Right now you have the possibility to access to the National Regulations in the field of Fire Safety of some members of CFPA Europe!

A new section has been implemented on the website in order to compile the regulation on fire safety in force in the member countries of the CFPA E to disseminate this information to all interested professionals. Currently you can access the information from the following countries:

  • Austria
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden

http://cfpa-e.eu/national-regulations/

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Renewable energies, an overall survey of Engineering Insurers within the German Insurance Association (GDV)

In 2003, the GDV (Association of German Insurers) published the dossier “Renewable Energies” for the first time. Changes in technology and a rapid expansion of renewable energies are accompanied by an increasing demand for renewables-specific insurance policies. In addition to classic coverage against damages during construction and operation, there is a new demand among investors for delivery guarantee coverage, i.e. insurance against interannual fluctuations in solar radiation and wind speed. Consequently, in recent years the insurance industry has been developing novel products including coverage for premature ageing of photovoltaic cells. Based on products like these, the insurance industry takes on part of the producers’ and/or investors’ risks, rendering investments in these technologies more attractive and thereby indirectly promoting climate protection.

In 2017 the GDV (Association of German Insurers) published now the 9th edition of this dossier.

You can download the dossier here (free of charge):

General Assembly of CFPA Europe. Two new members

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CFPA Europe had the annual meeting, General Assembly, in Helsinki, Finland between 23-25 May. SPEK, the Finnish member, was the host, and the first day was a conference with several interesting presentations. Four examples: “Grenfell Tower fire and consequences in UK”, “Environmentally friendly fire retardants”, “Ageing study on smoke alarms”, and “Responding to the challenges of aging population”.

Now a Polish member

SITP, the Fire Engineers and Technicians Association, from Poland became a new member of CFPA Europe at General Assembly in Finland. SITP is a scientific and technical organisation. Among many activities the association is arranging conferences, seminars and training. SITP is also developing Guidelines in the field of protection and was the initiator of creating a voluntary certification system for fire protection services in Poland. Since year 2002 they have their own journal.

Associated member from Sweden

The Swedish Thefts Prevention Association (SSF) have become an associated member of CFPA Europe. The decision was taken at General Assembly. SSF has a strong national reputation in Sweden, has 229 members and are working close to the Swedish FPA, our regular member in Sweden. The new member will be active in CFPA E’s Security Commission, because the Swedish FPA is not working in that field.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Introduction to the Management of Hotel Fire Safety

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Twice a week there is a fire alert in a hotel in Sweden. The main reasons for fires in hotels are technical issues, candles and guests smoking in bed. These fires can cause serious damage and the consequences are sometimes fatal.

You are in charge. This premise is the basis of all legislation concerning fire protection. Every co-worker in the organisation must have proper knowledge about the fire protection program of the hotel. They should also know how to prevent fires from emerging as well as how to take the right actions in case of a fire. A well-functioning fire protection program comprises both technical and organisational solutions, you can build a solid basis for a fire protection program for your hotel with simple measures.

The education meets the qualifications required in the Swedish standard “Norm för Brandskyddat hotell™, which has been produced and revised in  collaboration with Visita (the Swedish sector and employer’s organisation for Hotels).

Objective

After the training, you should have basic knowledge and understanding of what it means to be responsible for a fire protection program at a hotel. You should also be able to take initiatives and take part in creating a fire proof hotel through planning, documentation and follow ups, ensuring you have an adequate fire protection management system in your hotel.

Content

  • Fire development
  • Responsibilities, regulations and laws
  • Fire Protection Management System
  • Fire Risk Assessment
  • Training
  • Fire Protection in Buildings
  • Evacuation

Suitable for

Hotel Managers, Safety Managers, Property Safety Responsible and Safety Managers.

Guida europea CFPA-E Guideline 32:2014-F

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E’ finalmente disponibile la traduzione in italiano della Linea Guida europea CFPA-E Guideline 32:2014-F “Treatment and storage of waste and combustible secondary raw materials”, che contiene utili indicazioni in merito alla sicurezza antincendio degli impianti di riciclaggio dei rifiuti e dei depositi di rifiuti. La linea guida europea può essere un valido punto di partenza per lo studio e l’applicazione di misure di sicurezza antincendio in questi impianti che, in Italia come anche in altri paesi, negli ultimi tempi stanno vedendo un sensibile incremento nel numero di incendi.

La versione originale della Guideline, in inglese, è disponibile come sempre al sito www.cfpa-e.eu; la versione in italiano verrà pubblicata a breve sul medesimo sito.

Si prevede nel prossimo futuro di rendere disponibili nelle varie lingue nazionali anche altre linee guida CFPA-E. Per restare aggiornati sulle novità europee in materia di prevenzione incendi è possibile iscriversi alla newsletter gratuita CFPA-E: le istruzioni si trovano sulla main page del sito www.cfpa-e.eu.

 

 

The CFPA-E Guideline 32:2014-F “Treatment and storage of waste and combustible secondary raw materials”, which contains useful indications about fire safety for this plants, is now available in Italian. The Guideline can be a valid tool for the study and implementation of fire safety measures in this sites where many fires occurred in the last times, in Italy and in other countries.

The Italian version will be published soon on the CFPA-E website www.cfpa-e.eu, together with the original English version.

In the near future, many CFPA-E Guidelines are going to be available in the various national languages. To receive updated news, it’s possible to subscribe to the CFPA-E newsletter: the instructions are on the main page of the www.cfpa-e.eu website.

The importance of cyber-security in the digitalization age

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Meeting with AIAS – Vodafone, Unione Confcommercio – Communication Police

The evolution of media and social networks, the distributed information and the internet are a concrete help for business, but can represent a menace for confidential information and for the internal data concerning customers.
The risk leakage of uncontrolled leakage of information that can be confidential or even strategic for the business development, due to cybercrime actions made with traditional or new and sophisticated systems, can be fatal for the business survival. Companies hit by cybercrime have to compete on the market in unfavorable conditions, as their competitors already know which are their intentions and their customers profile. So, unexpected failures arise, and apparently inexplicable copies of products and/or ideas migrate to the competitors.
The aptitude to undervalue the risk, the behavior to consider security as a cost and not an investment and the distrust towards the technologic approach can give aid to the attack to the immaterial patrimony of little and medium size companies.

The meeting took place on April 18, in Milan.