Monthly Archives: November 2020

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Fire authority thanked for funding high rise sprinklers | Fire Protection Association

Retrofit sprinklers in high rises. Every tenant wish to sleep safe and people living in high rise feel happy if they know that in event of a fire they will be alerted by an alarm and protected by sprinkler.

The Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service in England, where I live, has been campaigning for installation of sprinklers in high rise, tells CFPA Europe’s Director Tommy Arvidsson. Now they are also part-funding retrofitting of sprinklers in residential premises.

The housing provider Halton Housing got a £ 36,000 grant from Cheshire Fire Authority and that helped a lot to retrofit sprinklers into a 12 storey residential high rise.”

Link to read more below.

https://www.thefpa.co.uk/news/fire-authority-thanked-for-funding-high-rise-sprinklers

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Fire safety coordinators needed for construction projects

In smart construction, responsibility for fire safety is currently fragmented between too many parties, none of whom see the whole picture. This is causing delays and additional costs in construction projects.

It would be important to coordinate all technology being installed into the building during construction, also from the perspective of overall fire safety. If fire safety technology, solutions affecting fire safety and regulatory requirements were taken into account already in the building’s design phase, it would avoid delayed contracts and unnecessary extra costs.

These observations were made in Janne Mäkelä‘s master’s thesis “Integrated fire safety and systems in buildings”. The study was reviewed by Tampere University’s Faculty of Built Environment in May 2020.

Demand for system coordinators with an understanding of overall fire safety

Buildings are being fitted with a growing number of automation systems connected to the internet, and their technical solutions increasingly rely on cloud services.

Platform solutions combining the data masses of several buildings and their technical systems open up new opportunities for developing holistic property management solutions. Traditional fire safety systems could be complemented by, e.g. evacuation and information systems, intelligent lighting systems and sound analysis systems.

Fire safety system packages are relative newcomers in the field of construction and are strongly founded in official requirements. Due to a lack of knowledge of such systems in the construction industry, fire protection technology has not yet been successfully integrated with other automation systems or the existing implementations and culture related to older technical systems.

“It has formed its own, precisely defined area, which also leads to the fragmentation of technical implementations. If you acquire and install a fragmentary system, it is impossible to assemble it into a unified whole operating in accordance with functionality requirements and the original designs any more”, says Safety Expert Lauri Lehto of the Finnish National Rescue Association.

The lack of overall responsibility has also led to varying attitudes to fire safety. This problem could be solved by a system coordinator involved in the construction project from the beginning, who would be familiar with the operating models of the fire safety sector and could coordinate the construction project’s fire safety from start to finish.

What if we also listened to the building’s users?

The study confirms that buildings’ end users and owners should be more closely involved in the early stages of the construction project. If it was known at the design stage that the building’s end users will possibly modify the premises, it would be possible to take adaptability and fire safety into account from the outset.

“If the needs of the building’s users have not been charted, the premises will not be designed to enable varying activities. As a result, the building’s potential for adaptation can be curtailed by fire safety”, Lehto says.

Fire safety is a worthwhile investment

The key shortcomings highlighted in the thesis are the stiff competition in the construction sector, along with a lack of resources, know-how and the necessary baseline data. The study also emphasises the need to increase awareness of fire safety and its benefits.

The technical implementation of building systems has changed significantly over the last 20 years, and there is a lack of expertise and training on fire safety in the sector. The rapid pace of the changes has also left many traditional operators bewildered. Data models and platform solutions create new challenges alongside those specific to traditional design. The rapid digitalisation of automation systems has created a shortage of experts in the industry. Efforts are being made to fill this gap with IT experts. Fire safety too needs to change in the face of these developments.

Developers, building owners and end users need accessible information packages on fire safety options, so that they will be able to recognise and understand the various solutions available on the market.

“Fire safety is not always seen as a cost saving or good investment. But the concept of fire safety is not merely technical. The development of safety culture must be a common goal for all parties”, Lehto says.

 

Fire safety in the EU

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A lot can be done for fire safety in the EU. Member states must therefore learn from each other and focus on this issue in the EU’s coming ‘renovation wave’. So argues Pernille Weiss, member of the European Parliament for Denmark’s Conservative People’s Party.

As part of the EU 2019 budget, proposals were put forward to improve fire statistics in Europe. What happened with the proposal?
- The Commission allocated money to a pilot project. This means that statistics are now being collected in this area and we can therefore identify what we need to do better. Since then, I have followed up, among other things, by hosting events in the European Parliament, where we have focused on fire safety.

What are the possibilities of joint European cooperation to enhance fire safety?
- Fire safety is basically a national matter. However, it is extremely important that we learn from each other across Europe. We are far from being equally good at protecting our citizens from fire, and we need to learn from those who do it well. Furthermore, it is important, of course, to have high standards of fire safety in the products we produce in the EU and in those we import.

What can be done to reduce the number of people who perish in care home fires?
- It’s up to member states to a great extent. It’s clear that we need national rules on how to protect not only newly built, but also older care homes against fire. A lot has happened from a purely technological standpoint and it’s important that our buildings keep apace. At the EU level, it’s very much about ensuring that the products we allow in the internal market are fire-safe.

What is happening on the subject of fire in the EU?
- The study on fire safety across the EU is a major step. In addition, the Commission has proposed a ‘renovation wave’. The purpose is to reduce energy consumption in buildings, but it’s clear that there are many of us who want to fight for fire safety to be incorporated when plans for this ‘renovation wave’ are presented.

In what direction do you see the work in this area going?
- It’s still too early to say. However, I see that there are several of us in the European Parliament who focus on fire safety, and this is a good sign. I’ve made an effort to draw attention to the issue by organising several events where politicians and industry people have met each other – because it’s important that we politicians talk to the experts.