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Achieving improved fire safety with FireVu CCTV system

D-tec Video Smoke Detection Systems : 03 June, 2008  (Technical Article)
Ian Moore of D-Tec explains the role of integrated CCTV system for detecting outbreaks of fire in warehouses
Achieving improved fire safety with FireVu CCTV system
When it comes to fire safety in today's large scale warehouse environments - which can cover tens of thousands of square metres - undoubtedly an essential requirement is the ability to identify that there is a problem at the earliest possible stage, so swift action can be taken to bring a fire under control.

This has become even more of an imperative given the high value of materials which are stored in these large-scale buildings and the need to move workers to safety in what can, in many instances, be a 24-hour operation.

Alongside this, as recent tragic events have demonstrated all too starkly, the more information which the emergency services can access with regards to the extent of the fire and, specifically, the situation on the ground in areas of a warehouse, the better able they will be to tackle the blaze effectively and keep safe should they need to enter the structure.

Given all of the above requirements, I believe that CCTV has an invaluable role to play in delivering an effective early warning of any fire and, crucially, a visual indication of what is actually happening should an incident take place to help minimise the potential for damage and loss of life.

Looking in more detail at specific types of CCTV technology it is Video Smoke Detection (VSD) which is ideally suited to the large voluminous nature of a warehouse where high airflows are present and it is just not possible, practically, to place conventional detectors close enough to the area of risk to provide an effective level of detection.

Already, this intelligent form of CCTV has proven its worth in other types of structures worldwide, ranging from aircraft hangars to protecting building atriums in prestigious office developments.

In lofty, extensive, structures such as warehouses there is a high reliance, where traditional fire detection solutions are concerned, in smoke overcoming distance, stratification and temperature layering, before being detected. This can mean, with conventional detectors, that it can be many minutes before an alarm is activated - if at all - making it much more problematic to tackle a blaze as it is likely to have reached a more advanced stage.

Thankfully, this is not a limitation faced by Video Smoke Detection (VSD) as it is able to utilise images from standard CCTV cameras and analyse these, by applying sophisticated algorithms to detect the presence of smoke, in seconds and automatically alert control room operators to the danger. Consequently VSD is not reliant on the proximity of smoke to a detector, whether the camera is 10 or 100 metres away from a risk area, VSD will detect smoke in the same amount of time.

Another advance which increases the flexibility of VSD, and also opens up the potential for the information and images it provides to be distributed to a number of viewing platforms for review, is the integration of FM-approved VSD with an IP (Internet Protocol) based capability. Our NetVu Connected FireVu system means that there is the potential to offer 24-hour remote monitoring of
incidents, with alarm and associated video images. This allows multiple, geographically dispersed, warehouses to be effectively monitored from the same control room.

Significantly with FireVu all alarm events are recorded on the system's Digital Video Recorder (DVR) - installed on site - which can be readily accessed for pre and post-event analysis. Testing and diagnosis can also be carried out remotely and FireVu can be integrated with a broad range of security and facilities management measures.

In terms of practicality, FireVu's associated CCTV cameras can be fixed in conveniently accessible places rather than being positioned high up as is the case with conventional detectors. As mentioned CCTV can also cover a much larger area so fewer cameras would normally be required compared to detectors for a given size of warehouse.

In addition Video Smoke Detection can take advantage of existing CCTV cameras so only a small number of new CCTV cameras may be necessary.

Looking ahead, the fact that the FireVu system can be networked and images and alarms distributed means that is now perfectly possible to supply this information via wireless connection to the emergency services. In particular, we have been investigating the possibility of transmitting images wirelessly to fire engines on the move. Equipped with other AD Group NetVu Connected CCTV
systems such as TransVu, a mobile digital recorder, members of the fire service would be able to review pre and post alarm footage - using the same NetVu ObserVer viewing software as that supplied with FireVu - en route to the scene of a warehouse fire and as a result make informed decisions on the best way to tackle an incident.

Ultimately, for warehouse fires it is all about early detection and providing a visual indication of what is actually happening in specific areas ensuring that rapid action can be taken, limiting any damage and disruption to the owner's business, whilst crucially ensuring the safety of warehouse staff and members of the emergency services.
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