Category Archives: Security

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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.

 

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Automatic water extinguishing systems can save residents and staff at care facilities in the event of fire

Water mist and sprinkler systems are the most effective ways of preventing fire fatalities, especially among disabled people. This was the conclusion of Tapio Stén’s report.

When a fire breaks out, care facility personnel do not have the time to carry out first extinguishing or evacuate all of the residents who are unable to escape on their own. The number of staff is simply insufficient, and it may be challenging to physically move some residents. Automatic water extinguishing systems either put out the fire or limit it to such an extent that the staff at the site or the fire department can completely extinguish it. This was the case in every single fire from 2012–2019 at care facilities or similar institutions where automatic water extinguishing systems were activated.

In each fire examined in the report the automatic water extinguishing system worked as designed, preventing life-threatening conditions.

Fires are also extremely dangerous to personnel. Automatic water extinguishing systems markedly improve the health and safety of staff during fires. No staff members were injured in any of the cases studied in the report.

Rising temperatures as well as toxic smoke and gases are the most dangerous features to humans in a fire. Extinguishing systems provide extra time for safe evacuation and support the structural integrity of buildings.

Personnel at care facilities need to know how to act

When the Fire Detection System sounds, the building’s own fire protection technology, rather than the rescue department, is the first line of defence. The systems report the danger at the earliest possible stage, provide more time to act during the first critical minutes and put a stop to the threatening situation as soon as possible.

People in buildings must be able to act independently. First extinguishing skills and regular exercises are essential. Moreover, personnel should be familiar with the building’s fire protection technology. In addition, on top of technical systems, all sites should have a fire response plan. What is more, just having a plan is not enough – the staff must also be familiar with it.

– Fire safety is an entirety in which, in addition to technical systems, the aim is to support the possibilities of action people, especially the staff at the site, have. Fire protection is all about anticipation in which human action cannot be ignored. A well-trained staff and an appropriate safety culture play key roles, says Lauri Lehto, Safety and Security Advisor at the Finnish National Rescue Association.

Myths persist about the equipment

While fire protection systems are primarily intended to save lives, they also protect property and secure business continuity.

Fires are always dangerous. It is everyone’s desire to detect and extinguish a fire as early as possible so as to limit losses as much as possible. Without automatic extinguishing systems fire losses can result in temporary or even permanent closures.

Extinguishing systems are often criticised for water damage, and they are feared to cause more damage from water than from the fire itself.

When fire breaks out the extinguishing system’s nozzles open one at a time when the direct influence of the fire reaches the nozzle. In most fires only one nozzle is activated, which is sufficient to extinguish or at least limit the fire.

The water damage caused by extinguishing systems is probably smaller than what the fire and smoke damage would be of a freely spreading fire. It is also important to keep in mind that extinguishing systems only use a fraction of the amount of water that the fire department would have to use to put out fires at unprotected sites.

Reliability of extinguishing systems demonstrated by countless studies

This report corroborates the results of previous studies. Automatic extinguishing systems have proved to be extremely reliable in fires.

Extinguishing systems are very reliable, and they rarely malfunction. According to American statistics (FM Global) the leak risk caused by equipment failure amounts to one case per 16 million nozzles each year. Furthermore, the risk of water damage caused by the system itself is exceedingly small. Also, when the system activates, all of the nozzles do not simultaneously discharge water. Rather, only the nozzles whose thermal elements have broken due to high temperature will be activated.

In the USA the National Fire Protection Association’s study (NFPA, U.S. Experience with Sprinklers, 2017) came to the conclusion that the best results in fire loss limitation were achieved at sites having an automatic extinguishing system and a Fire Detection System Nordic studies also support this view. According to a Master’s thesis (Nieminen, 2018) presented at Tampere University, extinguishing systems were 98.1 per cent reliable. The study compared building fire statistics from 1996–2016. In a report (Markus Melin, 2018) of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap), extinguishing systems were found to be more than 99 per cent reliable.

VdS-UAE

United Arab Emirates expand VdS Listing

The “Command of Civil Defense” of the seven Emirates extends its acceptance of products approved by Europe´s largest institute for safety and now also lists gas extinguishing systems certified in accordance with the Guidelines VdS 2454.

Cologne/Germany, October 1st 2020. The VdS certification body bundles 112 years of loss prevention experience and German engineering skills in comprehensive practical testing. Approved components and systems are fully compatible with NFPA installation standards and are accepted by authorities around the world. The “General Headquarter Command of Civil Defense” of the United Arab Emirates has now extended its listing of VdS-approved products to also include gas extinguishing technology.

“The VdS Quality Seal proves highest effectiveness and reliability directly at first sight”, emphasizes Gunnar Bellingen, head of the VdS fire protection laboratories. “We are delighted about this renewed appreciation by the UAE ministries, which underlines the fully reliable services of both our test engineers and the approved manufacturers in the entire world”.

The Emirates are among the wealthiest countries on the globe. The already strong construction activity in this booming region is expected to even increase due to the upcoming World Expo to be held in Dubai in 2021.

Caption UAE: VdS-approved products are accepted by authorities on all continents. The booming United Arab Emirates have now extended their listing and also added gas extinguishing systems (pictured a test in the German VdS laboratories).

About VdS:

VdS is one of the world’s most renowned institutions for corporate safety and security. 500 experts offer a unique range of services for fire protection, security, cyber-security and natural hazard prevention.

Services include risk assessments, testing and certification, inspections, information systems for natural hazards and an extensive training program. In addition, the independent institute sets international safety and security standards with the publication of a comprehensive set of Guidelines.

The optimal protection of our partners is based on a worldwide unique protection concept whose reliability builds on more than 110 years of VdS-experience, combining all core aspects of loss prevention. Decision-makers around the world rely on VdS-approved reliability and certainty.

More information at vds-global.com

Rely on Europe´s No.1 for Corporate Safety and Security

Visions for the future – Development of Fire Safety

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Fire Prevention Technology Development Group

Link to Annual Report 2018

Our operating environment and circumstances are constantly changing. With the evolving environment and technology, people working and living must be able to observe the changing environment in new ways.

Change always happens, but can be prepared for. Even if we try to predict the future, the problem is that tomorrow’s future will no longer be the same as it was before. We think we are anticipating the future, but it is following our actions and has taken another step forward.

Anticipating the operating environment is the key to use. Through our behaviour, we can try to influence what kind of future we might be facing, for example, in the next decade. This in turn requires strong cooperation and efforts to develop the sector so that we all have a parallel vision of the future.

Construction and technology, which are both linked to fire prevention technology, are also in constant development. Even here in Finland. We inevitably face new challenges and problems that need to be solved.

Hopefully the various actors can conduct a dialogue on the solutions that have been found and the stumbling blocks that preceded them, as joint learning and exchange of information also open the way for joint development.

Over the past year, the development group has supported the work of study projects with its expert activities, and will continue to be fully involved in similar projects.

It has already been strongly highlighted at this stage that fire safety is seen as an evolving factor in general, but the challenge lies in attitudes rather than technical solutions.

In domestic construction, there are many old-fashioned attitudes to fire prevention. New options are seen as enablers in the construction industry, but at the same time new technology is being shunned.

The often repeated arguments are based on the operational uncertainty of new technologies and the lack of common practices. This is where the development group has the potential to have an impact.

It is advisable to think about how we can develop activities together between various actors in order to focus on the present and the future, and where we can find answers, rather than the existing problems.

Lauri Lehto

Safety and Security Advisor

The Finnish National Rescue Association, SPEK

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New Guideline on Protection of Business Intelligence

It is human nature to assume that those we meet business are genuine, have integrity and are well-intentioned.  Sadly, in an age of intense business competition this may turn out to be fatally naive.  The readiness of unprincipled individuals and businesses to commit industrial espionage, sabotage and vandalism appears to be on the increase globally.  This impacts the victim organisation through damage to competitiveness, market advantage, reputation and staff morale.  Therefore CFPA Europe has published the Guidelines “Protection of Business Intelligence” (no. 10:2016/S). These valuable guidelines will assist the organisation identify their vulnerabilities, detect the warning signals and take proactive action to implement those countermeasures and controls essential to secure the organisation’s operational and intellectual property.

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New Guideline on Recommendations for the control of metal theft

At times of high market demand for metal as a result of worldwide economic developments, and the correspondingly high prices available for scrap metal, the theft of metal materials, particularly attached to or outside buildings, such as cable, roofing, raw materials and finished products, causes significant disruption to business and community assets and can even result in injury and death.  The problem can be mitigated partly by rigourous controls on scrap metal trading but these should be supported by the type of security options discussed in the new guide published by CFPA Europe: “Recommendation for the control of metal theft” (no. 9:2016/S).

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New Guideline on “Security in Schools”

The managers of our community schools bear a heavy responsibility for the wellbeing, safety and security of pupils whilst in their care. Young minds are especially vulnerable if their experience of school life is characterised by a perception that their school lacks control over property and personal crime and a generally threatening environment.

Furthermore it goes without saying that the financial costs of inadequate risk management of criminal behaviour and natural hazards is particularly significant for the educational sector which, in most countries, experiences continuous budgetary pressure.  Assaults on pupils and teachers, whilst thankfully uncommon, are on the increase and the assailant is usually legitimately on the premises rather than an outsider.  The contents of schools – computers, musical instruments, video equipment etc, unavoidably invites petty theft and catastrophic loss through arson is an ever present risk.

Security risks are therefore wide ranging. The new CFPA-Guidelines “Security in Schools” (no. 8:2016/S) describe how they are manifested in schools and the sensible, practical and cost effective protection strategies and measures available to management.

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New Guideline on Developing Evacuation and Salvage Plans for Works of Art and Heritage Buildings

Those responsible for the safe preservation of our cultural heritage bear a heavy responsibility, particularly as the buildings and objects in their custody, or under their control, are usually irreplaceable.  Responsible custodians and conservators are generally conscious of the need to keep property safe from accident, mishandling, negligence and natural hazards and can be expected to recognise the importance of fire and security risk management but it is all too easy to overlook the need to have in readiness a current and rehearsed plan for the minimisation of loss or damage in the event of a catastrophic event such as a fire or flood.  Prompt and effective action in such a crisis greatly increases the chance of valuable property being rescued or salvaged.

The CFPA-guideline “Developing Evacuation and Salvage Plans for Works of Art and Heritage Buildings” (no. 7:2016/S) will help establishments entrusted with art and heritage property such as museums, libraries, archives, and churches plan for the safe preservation of exhibits in the event of a catastrophic event such as a fire or flood, when timely action is critical.  Adoption of the guidance will also have the incidental effect of mitigating risks to the building itself.  Others with custody of art property such as warehouses, forwarding companies, galleries and trade exhibition centres will also find the document highly relevant.

Messe Essen GmbH, Norbertstraße, 45001 Essen, Germanyhttp://www.messe-essen.de

Industry Oscar for VdS-Cyber-Security

The Innovation Award of the world’s leading security trade fair, the “Security” in Essen, is considered to be the “Industry Oscar” for special achievements in loss prevention. // VdS received the golden award in the category “Services” for their comprehensive offers in the field of Cyber-Security specially for medium-sized companies. 

The Security Innovation Award, granted by the world´s leading security trade fair, the “Security” in Essen, is known as the “Industry Oscar”. Every two years outstanding performances for optimum loss prevention are rewarded. This year, the golden and thus highest award in the category “Services” went to the emergent Cyber-Security services of VdS: the VdS-guidelines 3473, the first Cyber-security standard specifically for medium-sized companies, and the institutes´ further associated services such as the free Quick-Check, the fast Quick-Audit including attestation or the VdS-Certification of information security for companies.

Dr. Harald Olschok, Managing Director of the German Association of Security Industry (BDSW) and Chairman of the jury for the services sector, stated at the ceremony in the Essen exhibition halls: “For the Industry Oscar `Security Innovation Award´ it is not only technical finesse and innovative impulses that count. The positive consequences for people and society which result from these services are also decisive. Congratulations to the Cyber-Security Standards of VdS for our most vulnerable SMEs, they have prevailed among many high-quality entries from the USA, France and Great Britain. The VdS-guidelines 3473 make this sensitive issue for SMEs concrete and manageable.”

Dr. Robert Reinermann, CEO of VdS, explained at the ceremony: “Germany is the country most affected by cyber-crime worldwide. Economic damage caused by digital attacks in Germany alone is estimated at 45 billion Euros per year, 1.6 percent of the gross domestic product – and the number of attacks is growing rapidly all over the world! Particularly endangered are the often highly innovative, but unfortunately mostly poorly secured SMEs. Again and again cybercriminals gain access to patents, processes, plannings, prices, often to all sensitive corporate data. Digital knowledge theft threatens the survival of many small and medium enterprises. That’s why we offer to SMEs the guidelines VdS 3473 about digital securing with well-known practicality and easy tips for implementation for free. ”

The guidelines VdS 3473 contain all relevant information about the organisational and technical implementation of information security and provide the usual practical assistance, at a cost which is optimally manageable for SMEs. According to a study of the Alliance for Cyber-Security the guidelines VdS 3473 are already among the top 3-standards in the implementation of management systems for information security. All information on the comprehensive range of Cyber-Security services of VdS, Europe’s No.1 Institute for Corporate Security, can be found at www.vds-global.com .

 

Caption Gold: Handover of the Golden Security Innovation Award for the VdS standard for optimal Cyber-Security in the SME sector by Jury Chairman Dr. Harald Olschok, Managing Director of the German Association of the Security Industry (right): with the trophy VdS CEO Dr. Robert Reinermann, with the certificate VdS Manager for Cyber-Security, Markus Edel.