Fire protection in the course of the BIM (Building Information Modeling) application: start of the standardization in Germany

A working committee (VDI 2552 Sheet 11.6) at the Association of German Engineers (VDI) is starting works on the standardization of BIM application for fire protection. In particular, the information exchange requirements of those involved in fire protection for structures, such as the local building permit authority and fire brigade, planners manufacturers and installers of fire protection products and system, and insurers, are being systematically prepared. In this connection, the fire protection concept and individual fire protection measures are considering. Typical characteristics of the information exchange requirements include

  • tasks and role of a responsible person or party for a specific sub-process, e. g., planner,
  • process input, and output, including content, level of detail of the information and
  • time and addressees of the information delivery.

These specifications are intended to enable comprehensive coordination in the digital common data environment for BIM projects (CDE) and map the building information required for fire protection in the digital twin of buildings and their whole life cycle. The working committee will also examine whether the available open data format ICF (Industry Foundation Classes) according to ISO 16739, can fully cover the concerns of fire protection. If necessary additional specifications are to be defined in collaboration with ICF experts.


Landlord got prosecuted for ‘serious’ fire safety breaches

In Reading, England, a landlord got prosecuted because he did not meet the required standard of accommodation, and the council fines the landlord £ 66,000. The occupants were left “vulnerable to becoming trapped in the event of a fire”.

The court ruling is a warning to all landlords who are not ensure they comply with rules, or take action to protect their tenants.

Read more:

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Condolences for a member of the CFPA Europe family

CFPA Europe’s former chair Alain Georges from Belgium, died on 26 December as a result of cancer.
He was only 74 years old. It was in the 90th Mr Georges was chair for CFPA Europe, in total six years.
We are deeply sorry about the loss of Alain Georges, and our hearts go out to his family.

75 Anniversary Year

CFPA Europe’s member in UK, the Fire Protection Association, has a campaign, called “Know your building” as a part of their anniversary.
This campaign aiming to achieve:
- Fire sprinkler systems to be a regulatory requirement for commercial buildings such as care homes, schools, hospitals and healthcare premises
- For all businesses to have a fire strategy as part of a robust business continuity plan
- For third party certification to be regulatory requirement for all fire safety services and products.
Read more about the campaign on


A better and more sustainable future

The countries in the world have committed themselves to improve the planet and lives of its citizens, and UN has defined this in 17 life-changing goals. These Goals should be reached by 2030.

This means that all countries, companies, and individuals should strive for and contribute to making it possible.

CFPA Europe, as a European and Global association, want to support and contribute to this important work, and our work mainly concerns four of UN’s Goals:

• Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-being
• Goal 4 – Quality Education
• Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities
• Goal 13 – Climate Action


How we contribute to UN’s Climate Action Goal: 
Adaptation to climate change – A statement of CFPA Europe

Climate change is increasingly becoming worldwide an issue for society, as well as for CFPA Europe as an association of national fire protection organisations in Europe. Here, mitigation with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is mostly on the agenda.

In parallel, adaptation to climate change is becoming increasingly essential, to limit the impacts of climate change on people, nature and society. This step is reasonable, as extreme weather events and changes in meteorological parameters, e. g regionally and seasonally rising of average temperatures or/and shifting of precipitation distributions are expected to increase because of climate change. These negative consequences are due to ongoing climate change and delayed and insufficient mitigation efforts. The typical impacts of climate change are e. g. flooding caused by heavy rainfall away from water bodies, heat waves, drought in summer and associated wildfires, storms, and hail. They are already recurring in European countries and have caused fatalities, severe damage to nature, to property and considerable economic activities impairment.

The protection against natural hazards, and, thus also against extreme weather events has been a topic of CFPA Europe since 2012. Based on experiences of member organisations of CFPA E, the following recommendations are already developed and published:

  • Guideline No.1: 2012 N Protection against flood
  • Guideline No.2: 2013 N Business Resilience – An introduction to protecting your business (Will soon be updated, also with respect to climate change)
  • Guideline No.3: 2013 N Protection of buildings against wind damage
  • Guideline No.4: 2013 N Lightning protection
  • Guideline No.5: 2014 N Managing heavy snow loads on roofs
  • Guideline No.6: 2016 N Forest Fires
  • Guideline No.7: 2018 N Demountable / Mobile flood protection systems

These guidelines are available on the CFPA Europe website for free download. New guidelines on structural protection against heavy rain, and hail, and the supply of fire-fighting water in extreme weather conditions are currently under intensive development. Related to the last cases in recent years, the “forest fires” guideline will be updated.

Protection against natural hazards is also taken into account e. g. in the guideline on IT facilities (Guideline No.14: 2019 F) interdisciplinary, parallel to fire protection. The possible interactions with mitigation are also addressed in the development and the updating of technical recommendations. This is the case with Guide­line No. 37: 2018 F “Photovoltaic systems: recommendations on loss prevention”, as renewable energy can effectively contribute to mitigation and extreme weather event impact PV installations on roofs or facades. All recommendations are intended to help the identification of hazards and the management of associated risks.

The development and updating of recommendations on protection against natural hazards are done by CFPA Europe in cooperation with experts from Insurance Europe, the umbrella organisation of insurers operating in Europe.

As a European player, CFPA Europe will continue to address climate change in its guidelines with practical recommendations as supporting contribution to adaptation to climate change.



Security in a coronavirus crisis

What impact has the crisis had on areas such as burglary, cybercrime, terrorism, etc?

DBI, the CFPA Europe member in Denmark, gives on their website some trends that they have been seen in Denmark.

There have been numerous cyberattacks, particularly at the beginning of the crisis. The perpetrators adapted their language and wording to match the tone of the authorities. They tried to get people to log on to fake sites.

And what about burglaries? It looks like the burglars also accepted the advice to stay at home, and the burglary rates have fallen by a quarter compared to the same period last year.

Read more about these and other crimes and the experiences in Denmark.


Well-maintained and properly guided fire safety equipment do not generate false alarms

The trend towards quality in fire detection and extinguishing systems as well as the number of alarms physically checked on site remained level in 2019, similar to 2018. It is noteworthy that the volume of equipment continues to increase. Factors affecting the present situation are modern equipment, trained system operators and the collective effort of the actors within the field where quality is sufficiently assured in all implementations.

The importance of proper maintenance and competent personnel cannot be overstated.The trend towards quality in fire detection and extinguishing systems as well as the number of alarms physically checked on site remained level in 2019, similar to 2018. It is noteworthy that the volume of equipment continues to increase. Factors affecting the present situation are modern equipment, trained system operators and the collective effort of the actors within the field where quality is sufficiently assured in all implementations. The importance of proper maintenance and competent personnel cannot be overstated.

This positive trend in equipment can be seen when the present number of automatic alarms, i.e. those coming from alarms connected to the emergency response centre (ERC), as well as the number of alarms physically checked on site are compared to the statistics from previous years. Whereas in 2019 rescue authorities checked out a total of 17 404 alarms, the average from 2016–2018 was 18 221 alarms checked (source: Pronto). Even though the volume of equipment is on the rise, the number of dispatches generated by alarms to rescue departments keeps decreasing – this is by virtue of sophisticated equipment, fire detection system maintenance companies and system operators.

An earlier press release of the Emergency Services Academy Finland concerning callouts received from automatic fire alarms connected to ERCs also supports this view:

Fire alarms connected to ERCs generated 18 000 alarms, which represents 16 per cent of all rescue services’ dispatches. Of these, 1 200 (7 per cent) were valid alarms. The previous time this number was as low was in 2002, even though the number of fire alarms connected to ERCs has constantly grown. These data were compiled by Pronto, the rescue services’ resource and accident statistics program.

More information (in Finnish) can be obtained through the following weblink: More traffic accidents in 2019, fewer fire alarms and first response dispatches.

Fewer serious shortcomings – also credit to the rescue authorities

Third-party working groups for interpreting standards and instructions also deem it beneficial that the owners of equipment are increasingly interested in ensuring the long-term reliability of fire extinguishing systems. It is also good that inspections have found fewer serious shortcomings in automatic extinguishing systems.

In 2019 Kiwa Inspecta conducted long-term testing on sprinkler systems, in other words 15 to 25 year reliability tests in accordance with a given site’s technical manual or design standard. The number of long-term reliability tests grew by 73 per cent compared to 2018. This is a very positive sign of improved practical lifespan monitoring in fire prevention technology.

Active collaboration bears fruit. “When it comes to this trend, credit should also be given to the rescue authorities”, says Mr Antero Peltomaa from Kiwa Inspecta, representing the Fire Prevention Technology Development Group. The authorities have better taken into account the third party working group’s reports of serious shortcomings, and demanded that the owners of extinguishing systems promptly engage in corrective action.

There is still plenty to be done – for instance the periodic inspections of fire alarms have revealed challenges in updating the systems and making them mutually compatible. The third-party working groups have found implementations having inadequate certificates and documentation when fire detection system (FDS) control panels have been replaced or updated. Inspections carried out by neutral third parties should be the norm when replacing and introducing FDS control panels. Still, first and foremost, the installation and service companies operating in this field should draw attention to this problem and improve quality assurance. This could help minimise such future problems in association with FDS control panel replacements which, to an extent, can now be inferred from the statistics.

“The customer’s own active engagement is also paramount in quality assurance, so that shortcomings are detected through regular maintenance and inspections. Detected shortcomings must be reacted to immediately, rather than passively waiting for the next periodic inspection. Fire prevention technology, in essence, entails continuity management as well as protecting lives and property”, says Mr Lauri Lehto, Safety and Security Advisor at the Finnish National Rescue Association and Fire Prevention Technology Development Group.

Transition year for the new ST1 guidelines

The new ST1 guidelines for design, installation, and maintenance of fire detection systems were updated and introduced in 2019, and will be implemented in 2020. Likewise, the European Standards CEN/TS 54-14:2018en on the same topic have been updated. The fire safety branch has been waiting for reviewed decrees on fire detection systems but, unfortunately, it seems that the present Coronavirus situation will also delay these statutes and so the need for an updated decree still exists. In this situation, third-party inspectors and rescue authorities have been called upon to interpret the guidelines vis-à-vis the enactments.

In 2019 there were more and more such inspections, especially periodic inspections, in which the detected shortcomings recorded in inspection documents greatly differ from earlier observations. Consequently, in 2018 the third-party working groups for interpreting standards and instructions organised joint meetings among the groups. The goal of these meetings is to harmonise inspection practices among the third-party working groups. The group for interpreting instructions also participates in these meetings.

More information regarding this group’s materials can be found here (in Finnish).

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, quality and technical prospects of fire prevention technology. The group is comprised of experts as well as representatives of fire prevention technology associations and fire safety organisations. The operating models published by the group are generic models intended for support and information, and people working within the field of fire prevention technology as well as other actors can find relevant information from them.



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.


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.