Category Archives: Security


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 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.



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.


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

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

Visions for the future – Development of Fire Safety

Captura de pantalla 2019-04-18 a las 16.59.14

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


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.


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).


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.


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.