Category Archives: Fire

USA streets ahead when it comes to the fire safety of mega-batteries

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Mega-batteries in the electricity system, industry and in our homes are on the way, and that will throw up challenges when it comes to fire safety. In the USA, development is more advanced, and the work on managing the risks is in full swing.

Our energy system will be transformed in the years to come. Sustainable energy will become more prominent and the storage of surplus energy from wind turbines and solar cells will be an important part of the solution. Therefore, Energy Storage Systems (ESS) will play a pivotal role, both in the general infrastructure, in industry and even in domestic homes. Development is gradually getting underway around the world, but if you look at the USA, it is in full swing, with ESS being constructed on a large scale.

However, it will entail a number of fire safety challenges when you install large-scale batteries with all the chemicals and energy volumes they contain.

– In Denmark, we are sniffing around the area, for example, in connection with solar farms, in large companies and in data centres. However, the technology entails a number of challenges in terms of fire safety. In a fire, the batteries can emit flammable gases, or ‘thermal runaway’ can occur, whereby the battery generates heat uncontrollably with the result that the battery cells can self-combust. When an entire room is filled with batteries, this poses a risk that has to be managed, says Mikael N. Gam, who is a fire safety consultant with DBI – the Danish Institute of Fire & Security Technology.

New standards in the pipeline
Even though the prevalence is greater in the USA, the technology is also fairly new there. There are standards in the field but they are currently being revised thoroughly due to the experiences gleaned in recent years.

– There are new and relatively prescriptive standards on the way which must describe what you need to do to ensure an acceptable level of fire safety according to American standards. This will change, for example, when an ESS is covered by the standard based on the type of battery technology and the volume of energy in the batteries. As far as possible, the standards will also cover future technologies so that unregulated technologies cannot emerge, even though the field is developing rapidly, says Mikael N. Gam.

In addition, there will be limitations to the energy capacity (probably a maximum of 50 kW) in every block in an ESS and minimum distance requirements between the blocks and between a block and the walls, if the system is installed in a building. This way, you are minimising the risk of a fire spreading unhindered in a really large ESS. There are solutions available up to 30,000 kW, and it is expected that this will increase further in the coming years.

– At the same time, in the drafts of the new standards the scene is now set for requirements for sprinkler systems, for which there is a strong tradition in the USA, explains Mikael N. Gam.

What about the emergency response teams?
It is not only in relation to standards that ESS is being looked at in more depth in the USA. Full-scale tests of various ESS systems are being carried out in order to gain more knowledge on how batteries react in a fire when ‘thermal runaway’ occurs, what effect the batteries have in terms of heat in a fire, how fire spreads between the battery blocks, which gases are created and what can be used to extinguish them.

The last point is particularly crucial as some batteries, for example, can flare up again days or weeks after they have been extinguished and because different battery technologies require different extinguishing methods. For example, it is possible to extinguish a lithium-ion battery with water. But, if you pour water on a lithium battery it can create hydrogen, which is extremely flammable.

– Another aspect that is being focused on is the training of emergency response teams so that they can deliver an effective response. This is made more difficult by the fact that different ESS systems require different responses and that the technology is developing at such a rapid pace that standards can’t keep up. This also makes it difficult for emergency response teams to keep up, says Mikael N. Gam.

The work on fire-testing ESS systems and finding a solution to the training of emergency response teams continues apace in the USA. And, there is good reason to keep abreast of the solutions they come up with on the other side of the Atlantic. Because even if the prevalence of ESS is still limited on these shores, it is on its way.

VdS Treppenlauf

Participation of VdS Schadenverhütung in a charity stair run organized by the Volunteer Fire Department of Bergheim

In 2017 two teams from VdS Schadenverhütung participated in a charity stair run organized by the Volunteer Fire Department of Bergheim, running up 16 flights of stairs 45 meters high in full firefighting gear. All money raised at this event was donated on behalf of Paulinchen e.V. a foundation for burned children. The association will use the money for such activities as maintaining the free initial contact hotline that helps victims of burn injuries, for various campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of burns and scalding, and also for the “Paulinchen” seminars, where families with injured children can get to know each other. At the end of the campaign, the vast sum of 3.333 € was donated to Paulinchen e.V.

The Volunteer Fire Department Bergheim is now one of the six finalists in the category “Social Engagement” of the Conrad Dietrich Magirus Award 2018. In an public online voting everybody can vote for his or her favorite team to reach the first place – until 27th of January 2019.  Which team made first place will be announced on the award night in Ulm on the 01.03.2019.

The Finalists for the „Special prize for social engagement 2018” are
Volunteer Fire Department Waltershausen (Germany)
SDIS 45 du Loiret (Orléans, France)
OSP Ochotnicza Straż Pożarna Lubin (Poland)
Volunteer fire Department Bergheim (Germany)
Chuncheon Fire Department, Gangwon Fire & Rescue Service (South Korea)
Youth Fire Brigade Langenthal (Germany)

Link for the Online Voting:
https://award.magirusgroup.com/en/

VdS Brandschutztage 2018 in der Kölner Messe ©VdS/Martin Rottenkolber

VdS-FireSafety Cologne 2018 with a multifaceted programme and numerous visitors from home and abroad

New exhibitor and visitor record, fully booked expert conferences, perfect networking opportunities

Cologne, December 5th, 2018 – For many fire prevention and protection professionals, VdS-FireSafety Cologne is the most important industry event at the end of the year. This was once again confirmed by the 7th VdS-FireSafety Cologne, which took place at the Cologne Exhibition Centre on December 4th and 5th, 2018. More than 100 exhibitors presented product innovations and live demonstrations at the major international trade fair, and a total of 3,300 visitors came to find out about current developments in the industry in the exhibition hall and at the expert conferences held at the same time. They also took advantage of the numerous networking opportunities.

Well-filled themed forums

The themed forums in the exhibition hall, to which all visitors had free access, were very popular. For the second time, the Future Forum Fire Protection was presented, this year with the motto “Today Vision – Tomorrow Everyday Life”. In the mornings of both days, experienced experts gave lectures on innovation topics and answered the questions of the trade fair visitors. In the afternoons, universities and manufacturers presented current findings, solutions and trends on the same stage.

Fully booked expert conferences

The seven high-calibre expert conferences that took place parallel to the trade fair in the halls of Cologne Exhibition Centre were also extremely popular, many of them fully booked. Among other things, the new conference “Security and Alarm Management – From Planning to Intervention”, which dealt with the convergence of fire prevention and protection, security services and optimally integrated emergency response, the compact seminar “Construction and Fire Protection in Northrhine Westfalia” on the new state building regulations, which will soon come into force, and the two-day international conference “Fire Extinguishing Systems” with case studies from Germany and abroad were available for selection. The internationally oriented programme also attracted many guests from abroad to Cologne Exhibition Centre; for example, the expert conferences were booked by visitors from 20 different countries.

Major trade fair and launch of international campaign

More than 100 exhibitors presented innovations and trends from various areas of preventive fire protection. Siemens presented its new international “Protection matters” campaign for the first time at VdS-FireSafety Cologne. It deals with the interlinking of the various fire protection professions (detection, alarm and evacuation, extinguishing, building and hazard management), which ideally are planned together from the outset. Siemens offers a comprehensive portfolio as well as planning aids that considerably facilitate the integration of the professions (more on this at siemens.de/protection-matters). “We used VdS-FireSafety Cologne to present our brand-new campaign, because here we meet an interested audience of experts in a very targeted manner. The feedback from the visitors was very positive. We are particularly pleased that the market perceives us as a driver for digitalisation in fire prevention and protection,” says Carsten Meißner of Siemens.

Live demonstrations and tours of the trade fair

At VdS-FireSafety Cologne there was a large variety of live demonstrations of the latest fire prevention and protection technology. These included, for example, a sprinkler system with foam admixture by FireDos and sprinkler demonstrations by Minimax Polska, in which the functionality of alarm valve stations and the spray patterns of sprinklers could be observed. VdS demonstrated original test equipment from the VdS fire detection laboratories: a rotating device in accordance with EN 54-12 for testing optical smoke detectors and a smoke box in accordance with EN 54-20 for testing aspirating smoke detectors.

The new offer for a total of three trade fair tours was also gladly taken up, during which interested visitors were shown selected product innovations and live demonstrations.

VdS-FireSafety Cologne 2019 on 4th and 5th December

Also next year VdS-FireSafety Cologne will not be missing from the calendars of industry professionals. Once again, it will take place at Cologne Exhibition Centre on 4th and 5th December 2019.

Further information on VdS FireSafety Cologne: www.vds.de/fire-safety

VdS Brandschutztage 2018 in der Kölner Messe ©VdS/Martin Rottenkolber

Full halls, satisfied faces: 3,300 visitors came to VdS-FireSafety Cologne 2018 to find out about the latest trends in fire prevention and protection.

VdS Brandschutztage 2018 in der Kölner Messe ©VdS/Martin Rottenkolber

Innovations were presented and many products demonstrated live at the more than 100 stands at the trade fair of VdS-FireSafety Cologne 2018.

VdS Brandschutztage 2018 in der Kölner Messe ©VdS/Martin Rottenkolber

Many of the expert conferences at VdS-FireSafety Cologne 2018 were fully booked, for example the expert conference “Fire Extinguishing Systems International” with simultaneous translation German/English.

About VdS

VdS is one of the world’s most renowned and prestigious institutions for corporate security and safety, specialising in fire protection, security, cyber-security and natural disaster prevention. The services include risk assessments, on-site inspections, certifications of products, companies and professionals, and a comprehensive training and publication programme.

The VdS seal of approval enjoys an excellent reputation in professional circles and among decision-makers. VdS clients include industrial and commercial businesses in all industries, leading international manufacturers, system houses and professional specialists, as well as risk-conscious banks and insurers. More information at www.vds-global.com.

VdS – Inspected. Approved. Safe.

CFPA-ok

Active participation of CFPA in European exhibitions

Two exhibitions:

Expoprotection

This late autumn there have been to big exhibition where CFPA Europe has been present. Expoprotection where in Paris 6-8 November and Director Tommy Arvidsson worked together with our member CNPP and CFPA E had also one side in their booth. Many visitors got interested to hear and learn more about CFPA E.

Expoprotection

Here is Patrick Hebbelynck (right) from CNPP talking with professors Barbara and Milovan Vidakovic, both from DITUR our member organisation in Serbia.

VdS FireSafety

In the beginning of December CFPA Europe joined in the booth with our member in Germany, VdS, at their international conference and exhibition in Cologne. It was very big even with even with approximately 1000 people participating the conference every day.

At the VdS-FireSafety the CFPA was represented by 4 speakers from 4 CFPA-members on quite different topics (From Grenfell Fire to Sprinkler systems and oxygen reduction systems up to Cyber security) – it shows the competency of our members:

  • John Briggs, FPA: “Grenfell Tower: Fire in high rise building in June 2017 – Could a sprinkler system have prevented or significantly reduced the impact and growth of the fire?”
  • Miguel Vidueira, Cepreven: “A real case: Efficiency problems with an existing sprinkler system due to a bad manufacturing of the pipework”
  • Heike Siefkes, VdS: “Oxygen reduction systems – determination of riskspecific oxygen concentrations“
  • Anja Kivac, DBI: “Social Engineering – Threat for the Human Firewall”

VdS-FireSafety

Here is John Briggs (left) from FPA-UK talking with Miguel Vidueira from Cepreven-Spain while Tommy Arvidsson between both reviews marketing material.

Organisations from East Europe

On 16 November CFPA Europe’s Director Tommy Arvidsson met people from ECEUFIRE, the East Central European Fire Corporation, at a meeting host by our member organisation in Slovenia, SZPV. Besides discussions about their co-operation, there was also plenty of time to talk about CFPA Europe.

Organisations-from-East-Europe

Here Tommy is making a presentation and Mateja Gris, Slovenia, Gábor Marlovits, Hungary, Horia Mihai Nicolescu, Romania, and Milan Hajduković, Slovenia are listening.

In Ljubljana CFPA Europe and Gašper Golob head of SZPV also had a possibility to meet Slovenian Insurance Association.

 

New method of evaluating overall fire safety

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Fire safety is not just one thing. It involves an interplay between a number of different factors. And, if one of them fails, the entire projected safety falls apart.

This is the underlying basis of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, which is a new approach to fire safety that was presented at the NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas in the summer of 2018.

– The method means that you don’t just look at one factor – for example, the design of the building – but you have to view fire safety from a broader perspective in order to ensure that the overall level of safety is adequate. Many factors determine whether a building is safe, and if just one element does not live up to expectations, then you don’t have the expected level of safety, says Mikael N. Gam, fire safety consultant at the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology, DBI.

Prudent principles in tumultuous times
In specific terms, the ecosystem encompasses eight points that must be in place.

– In a time when many of the things we have historically based our fire safety on are changing – for example, the use of many new materials with different fire safety properties, the ecosystem is a highly prudent principle to work to. For everything is interlinked and, to a far greater degree than previously, we have to be aware that numerous factors impact on overall fire safety, explains Mikael N. Gam.

The eight points in the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem:

  1. The regulatory authorities must develop and maintain effective guidelines and laws in the field.
  2. Planning and design teams must apply the latest guidelines and regulations in the field.
  3. All standards must be referenced and complied with during all phases of a building project (design, execution, operation etc.).
  4. Safety must be invested in, and it must be prioritised in relation to training, the choice of products and the enforcement of guidelines.
  5. The workforce carrying out the construction of the building must be competent and highly trained so that it can perform the work in compliance with guidelines and regulations.
  6. An effective quality assurance system must be in place in order to enforce rules and guidelines during the construction phase.
  7. Emergency response teams must be prepared, well-trained and have the necessary equipment to be able to respond to any risks that may arise.
  8. The public must be well-informed regarding the risks and dangers posed by fires before fire safety is in order.

VdS warning: Millions of video cameras vulnerable to hacking

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Dangerous access to nine million video cameras: Precisely the insecure cloud functions that the police and VdS have been warning against for years enable tampering with the surveillance systems of hundreds of end manufacturers. // Developers can find precise help for secure remote access in the guidelines VdS 3169, available free of charge.

The police and VdS have been warning for years against the often extreme vulnerability of insecure cloud solutions – even for components used in the security sector. The most recent example: video camera parts from one of the world´s largest manufacturers of this type (based in eastern China). Hack attempts by the Viennese IT security consultants SEC Consult revealed fast access options for nine million cameras currently in use. Program manipulations were also easily possible.
A particular problem is that although these components are used by more than a hundred end manufacturers, they are usually not listed anywhere. By the way, the botnet “Mirai” (perpetrator caught and convicted), which in 2016 paralysed large parts of the Internet including Twitter, Spotify and Netflix, drew its attack strength to a large extent from hacked components of this very manufacturer.
Sebastian Brose, Head of Product Management in the VdS Business Unit Products & Companies, explains: “Since then, optimisations have mostly not taken place. Many institutions all over the world which are highly interesting for criminals are using these vulnerable components. Hackers will not only see everything that happens there quickly and easily, but can also use the gap to enter other systems on site and misuse them as attack tools. Users of VdS-approved systems do not have such problems – after all, these are exactly the things we are testing for.”
The problem often arises because remote access via app has been made possible. Developers can find important help for a secure implementation in the free guidelines VdS 3169en (simply enter “3169en” in the search field on vds-shop.de/en ).

Caption Hack: Even cloud solutions used in the security sector are often far too easily attackable. Latest example: Nine million video cameras that are easy to hack because of an unsafe component.

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New Guideline on Cyber Security for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Corporate security often comprises the classic fields of fire protection, electronic and physical security (burglary, theft, sabotage). Natural hazards are another topic (e.g. flooding, heavy rain) – and so are, at least nowadays, all aspects of cyber security.

Modern IT technologies are required for the management of any business. They are necessary to ensure logistical and technical processes and, of course, internet access, which is essential to survive in today’s market. Unfortunately, the increasing digitisation is creating new opportunities for cyber criminals.

Together with its technical experts and based on German national requirements, CFPA has developed a working document helping to face this challenge on a supranational basis. It is tailored to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). The document helps SME to improve the status of their information security so that they can withstand cyber threats with a better outcome. The status of SME regarding their cyber stability can be subjected to audits and certification to ensure a higher standard of safety, and to inform e.g. their business partners accordingly.

Insurers and/or customers may even ask for certified cyber security. So it is important to check one’s status of cyber security – starting off with the Cyber Quick-Check (cf. CFPA-E.eu) which is completely free of charge.

VdS-BrandSchutzTage 2017-Messe Köln am 6.12.2017 ©VdS/Martin Rottenkolber

CFPA Europe at the VdS-FireSafety Cologne in December 2018

The end of the year will once again be marked by a highlight in our calendar: On the 4th and 5th December 2018, CFPA-Europe will once again be an exhibitor at the renowned VdS-FireSafety Cologne in the halls of the Cologne Exhibition Centre. Cologne, Germany’s third-largest trade fair location and number seven in the world, is located in the middle of a pulsating metropolitan area with around eleven million inhabitants in the centre of the triangle of Brussels, Frankfurt am Main and the Ruhr region. With its excellent accessibility by car, plane and train, it is an ideal location.

The industry get-together is not only a fixture in our appointment calendar, but also in that of many fire prevention and protection professionals. VdS-FireSafety Cologne is a combination of a large trade fair, seven top-class expert conferences and the exhibitor, science and future forum on fire prevention and protection. Numerous exhibitors present their newest products and solutions and are ready to exchange experiences with interested parties and customers. Both exhibitors and visitors alike can expect a wealth of up-to-date knowledge on all aspects of fire protection systems, structural and organisational fire protection, as well as from the field of security service providers

At VdSFireSafety Cologne, exhibitors will encounter a highly qualified specialist audience and find optimal presentation options at favourable conditions.
For example, there is the opportunity of free live demonstrations of innovative products in the exhibition halls, the chance to address the respective target group directly through presentations and lectures in the exhibitor forum, and to establish contacts with universities and research institutions in the Science Forum.

All in all, VdS-FireSafety Cologne offers access to a top-class expert audience with numerous architects, engineers, specialist planners, representatives of authorities, manufacturers, installers and operators of fire prevention and protection systems as well as many representatives of the insurance industry.

Many exhibitors have therefore been represented here for years: ” VdS-FireSafety Cologne is for us one of the most important trade fairs of the year. Here we meet the exact target groups that are relevant for us. And, not least of all, the support provided by VdS is always excellent,” explains Jörg Meyer, Head of Communication and Marketing at G+H Isolierung GmbH.

As is the tradition every second year, the 2018 VdS-FireSafety Cologne will have an international focus. This means that numerous exhibitors from Germany and abroad will be presenting their solutions at the trade fair, and visitors from all over Europe and beyond are expected. In addition, the popular VdS expert conference “Fire Extinguishing Systems” (04./05.12.2018) will take place with an international perspective and simultaneous German-English translation. CFPA Europe will be represented at this important event by speakers from three member countries. The programme covers a wide range of current topics around the technology and regulation of Fire Extinguishing Systems , as usual with much practical relevance, exciting international application scenarios and the opportunity for discussion.

Naturally, the classic expert conferences of VdS-FireSafety Cologne are not to be missed either. The programme includes the following specialist events:
Structural Fire Prevention and Protection (04.12.2018)
Security and Alarm Management (04.12.2018)
Fire Extinguishing Systems (international, with simultaneous translation German/English, 04./05.12.2018)
44th Advanced Training Seminar for Fire Prevention Officers (04./05.12.2018)
Smoke and Heat Exhaust Ventilation Systems (05.12.2018)
Fire Detection and Alarm Systems (05.12.2018)
Compact Seminar: Construction and Fire Protection Systems in NRW (05.12.2018)

Since last year, the “Future Forum Fire Protection” has been an integral part of the programme. Here, forward-looking topics such as aspects of digitisation are explained and discussed. Under the motto “Today Vision – Tomorrow’s Everyday Life”, well-versed experts will give lectures on innovation topics in the mornings of both days. CFPA Europe members will also be represented here with speakers. All visitors to VdS-FireSafety Cologne are invited to attend the lectures of their choice, ask questions and discuss with the speakers.

On the same stage as the Future Forum Fire Protection, the tried-and-tested Science and Exhibitor Forum will take place on both afternoons. Here, universities and manufacturers will present the latest findings, solutions and trends.

VdS-BrandSchutzTage 2017-Messe Köln am 6.12.2017 ©VdS/Martin Rottenkolber

The many live demonstrations by the exhibitors are of particular interest to visitors. Among other things, the functionalities of sprinklers, fire detection and alarm systems and smoke and heat exhaust systems will be presented in a tour using sophisticated demo systems. The fire protection systems, which are otherwise only triggered in an emergency, can be visually inspected in every detail under realistic conditions.

All information is available at www.vds.de/fire-safety

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.

VdS_course

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).