Breaking Hearts and Breaking Banks

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Breaking Hearts and Breaking Banks



With the cost of Notre Dame, Nottingham and Ocado still being counted, we ask: could video fire detection have stopped these fires, as it did in Bryggen in Norway?


Fire has risen up in the news agenda in recent years. Four recent major incidents have caused mercifully few casualties but have still resulted in huge headlines. Only three of these events resulted in significant damage - why?


The heart-breaking images of Notre Dame engulfed in flames were beamed across the world in April. It took nine hours to save what was left of the cathedral. In February, Ocado’s share price dipped 6% the day after their distribution centre in Andover was gutted, and the fire raged for a further four days. Last year, Nottingham’s beloved historic cattle market was reduced to ashes, despite firefighters battling through the night.


The fourth incident, however, at the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bryggen, Norway, took one hour and thirteen minutes to control. The difference? Speed of response.


In Paris, Nottingham and Andover the fire detection equipment in use only met the minimum government standards for the type of business in question. Smoke detectors, or beam detectors, were invented in the 20th Century with only the most cosmetic updates since their creation and adoption. This raises the question - how effective are these systems today?


This is particularly curious when reviewing the Ocado incident. Before their Customer Fulfilment Centre in Andover was all but destroyed it was the jewel in Ocado’s technical crown, known as “The Automated Warehouse Of The Future”. Various areas of the operation were given scifi-esque names like “The Grid” and “The Hive”. Every part of this technological marvel was cutting edge, state-of-the-art, space age… apart from the fire detectors (although its fire response system had won an industry gold award).


It is clear to see that there are some fundamental challenges with existing fire detection technology. The haunting images of Notre Dame engulfed in flames and Nottingham Cattle Market burnt entirely to the ground show that changes need to be made. In the aftermath of the Ocado fire, the Fire Protection Association released a press statement desperately trying to prop up the reputation of the outdated systems on which most are forced to rely. So what is the solution?


The history of progress in fire detection technology has been a competition to reduce response times: faster detection leads to faster alarming; faster alarming leads to faster reporting to responders; faster reporting leads to faster efforts to extinguish the fire before it takes hold. This is what happened in Bryggen, where Ciqurix’s FCam system was fitted in 2018.


With a video fire detection system we at last have a new answer to the increasing challenges of fire detection in a high-tech world. Cameras like the FCam can detect flame in seconds, immediately raise the alarm and provide vital information to either human firefighters or automatic extinguishing systems to vastly increase the chance of successfully staving off disaster. False alarms are also easily identified, as monitoring technicians are provided with a real-time video feed of the incident, enabling them to cancel any un-needed response.


These big recent fires which have ravaged businesses and destroyed historical monuments should be a wake-up call to the inadequacies of existing fire detection technology. It’s time that fire response reaches the 21st Century.


For more information on our FCAM Series please click here or get in touch with one of the team.

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