Tag Archives: security

Protection against both fire and theft

window-brake

Protecting a building against both fire and theft can be a challenge. Security consultants recommend prioritising both types of security, depending on whether or not people are located inside the building.

Fire safety and theft protection are two safety and security objectives that, unfortunately, often work against one another. As safety consultant Maiken Skriver Poulsen explains, when it comes to residential buildings, fire safety is primarily about getting people out of the building, while theft protection involves keeping burglars out.

-If there is a fire, people need to be able to get out without worrying about locks, keys and codes. If a burglar breaks in, on the other hand, we don’t want him to be able to slip out of the front door with all of our property, and that is why it is not easy to protect a building against both fire and theft. If you consider the full picture and make clear choices, though, it is actually possible to do both, says Maiken Skriver Poulsen from the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology, DBI.

Are there people in the building or not?
One of the traditional pieces of anti-theft advice is to have a lock on the door that cannot be opened from the inside without a key. It is therefore recommended to avoid thumb-turn locks, as these allow a potential burglar to let himself out with all the stolen goods. If a lock requires a key – and even if the key is left in the lock – it can slow down or create added stress for residents attempting to flee in the event of a fire. That is why Maiken Skriver Poulsen recommends always considering theft protection based on two scenarios: In one scenario, there are people inside the house who may be fast asleep, and in the other scenario the entire family is away from home.

– If the house is empty, there is no reason for having a key in the lock on the inside of the door. Besides, if there is nobody home, it needs to be as difficult as possible for a thief to empty the abode. On the other hand, if there are people inside the house, we recommend leaving the key in the lock on the inside of the door and installing an alarm, Maiken Skriver Poulsen explains, referring to a burglar alarm with motion sensors or a video surveillance system with an alarm.

For businesses, the safety consultant recommends separate security systems depending on whether or not people are found in the building.

Prevention is the best protection
According to Maiken Skriver Poulsen, companies and private citizens should, however, generally implement the most effective means of burglary protection – namely, prevention.

– A survey conducted by the Danish Insurance Association shows that burglars most often break in at the ground level through a window, so this is naturally an area that requires extra attention. The good, old-fashioned tricks are also still effective, such as keeping laundry on the clothes line and rubbish in the bin, says Maiken Skriver Poulsen, and concludes:

– All experiences show that the thief will select houses where it looks like nobody is home. You should therefore always be sure to turn on a light, have cars parked nearby, keep a free line of sight to the house from the street and neighbouring houses, and post clearly visible signs to let people know the alarm is on.

Bullet-resistant glass rarely the best security solution

Bulletproof glas

Demand for bullet-resistant glass is rising, but in most cases it is an unnecessary investment. Instead the focus should be on general security and more appropriate measures. 

Bullet-resistant glass has become popular in recent years. There are no overall figures for demand, but the sector is in no doubt. Glassmakers report higher demand, and even smaller companies are experiencing a rising interest in security glass, i.e. bullet and blast-resistant glass.

– We are seeing it more and more. A few years ago, we had an average of three to four inquiries per year for bullet-resistant glass. Today, we get 15-20 inquiries, with a preference for the heavier and larger solutions, explains Henrik Torp, a glazier at Glarmestre Snoer & Sønner A/S in Copenhagen.

– Part of the rise is probably due to the significant price falls for this type of glass over the last few years, he says.

The customers seeking more secure solutions are extremely diverse. For example, they include religious congregations, large public offices, hotels and even the odd private individual.

Other and better solutions
There may be good reasons for selecting glass which has been protected in some way. If a bomb goes off near glass, the glass splinters apart and the pieces are ejected like missiles.

– In this case, the glass will become a weapon. The shock wave combined with glass can cause massive injury, explains Per Frost, emergency management and risks advisor at the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology (DBI).

– But for by far the majority of customers, protection against explosion and terrorism is setting the bar too high. If a business is subjected to terror, it will typically be the employees who can provide access to particular systems or areas who will be threatened. In these cases, bullet-resistant glass will not be the right solution. Access control management and area zoning will be far more effective in protecting personnel at the workplace, Frost states.

If a company, against all odds, really is a potential terror target, pre-detection is also a better way of ensuring protection.

– All attacks require preparation. Pre-detection uses surveillance systems to check whether there is anyone inside the building perimeter, or to see whether anyone is repeatedly observing the building. These people are detected before an incident takes place. A security guard can then be dispatched, or the authorities can be contacted regarding a justified suspicion about a coming attack, and in this way the incident can hopefully be avoided, Frost says.

Only necessary if the police say so
There are relatively few locations where bullet and blast-resistant glass is necessary.

– But there may be a good business case for it in buildings which have frequently and repeatedly been subjected to vandalism – for instance, schools. Often the same panes of glass are destroyed each time, and in this case, the higher cost of the security glass could be quickly recouped, Frost explains.

Generally, however, bullet-resistant glass is mainly necessary when required as part of a security evaluation by the police.

– Or if you are handling high-value items – e.g. at currency exchange locations or in connection with security transport. In these cases, bullet-resistant glass may make sense, though, even here, it is not always the right solution. For watchmakers and goldsmiths, it will often be enough to have showcases of strengthened glass, able to withstand blows and tools, while securing the valuables in a safe at night, Frost says, and continues:

– The best thing is to look at the total security picture and make an overall assessment. This will show you other security options.

Tendering is expanding the use of bullet-resistant glass
So, if it’s not specific needs, what’s the reason for this trend?

– There is a tendency for bullet-resistant glass to become a competitive parameter in today’s new build projects. If two identical buildings cost the same and one has bullet-resistant glass, that’s the one you go for. It sends a signal that you are keeping up with trends, even if in reality the glass will rarely solve a security problem, because there is no day-to-day threat where bullet-resistant glass would be a help. But even so, the glass can be a sales argument, Frost says, and explains it in this way:

– It’s like needing a new car where one has a top speed of 100 km/h and another 200 km/h. If you never drive above 100 km/h, which one do you actually need? The same goes for bullet-resistant glass. It’s often unnecessary, and there are many other solutions.

 

 

The CE mark gives a false sense of security

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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