Has fire safety innovation caught up with the demands of European industrialisation?

The value of industrial exports in many European countries is vital for their economy. Temporary production lapses are costly and fire safety comes into question during a range of scenarios. Adam Kovics, export sales manager at Ramtech, explains why having access to a temporary fire safety solution is critical for modern day industry.

The combined value of sold industrial product by Germany, Italy and France accounts for almost 60 per cent of total EU sold production, according to stats captured by eurostat in 2020. This highlights the significance of industrial sites in countries focused on maintaining strong national economies in a global system that is becoming increasingly unpredictable.

When referring to industrial sites, there is a range of production outputs to consider. From major manufacturing facilities, focused on the creation of key materials and consumer goods, to warehouses storing items before they continue their journey along the supply chain. Additionally, there is also the small matter of industrial power plants producing energy for domestic and overseas markets.

These facilities are all part of a system that impacts our daily lives in a multitude of ways and are not excluded from refurbishment, extension or temporary closure, despite the headache this can cause site owners and facility managers.

A concern during construction work and a possible cause of closures in the first instance is fire outbreaks – something easily possible in environments containing highly flammable materials and large-scale equipment.

Code red

Over 5,000 fire incidents occur daily in in the EU according to Fire Safety Europe, and while the majority of these do not take place on industrial sites, the consequences are often far greater when they do. Only recently a fire in an English convertor station caused disruption to energy imports from France and the repercussions will be felt for months to come. This incident highlights the importance of responsive fire safety systems that can alert personnel quickly if a fire outbreak happens. Allowed to spread, a fire causes costly damage, but in this case also resulted in pushing power prices still higher and forcing the grid to call on coal plants.

Across Europe, a universal approach to fire safety does not exist, posing danger to both people and business in equal measure, and in some cases, without adequate protection. Therefore, it is the responsibility of senior industry professionals to be fully informed and educated on the latest threats and solutions, or risk both financial cost and danger to human life.

Should you feel threatened?

There is little evidence to suggest the risk is rising, but a pre-emptive approach is far better than a reactionary one. Key causes for concern when exploring fire safety on European industrial sites include arson, human error, machine error and vacant facilities.

Another, relatively new threat to Northern Europe that has earned more attention lately is wildfires. Calls for a more integrated approach to prevent accidents caused by wildfires have been published, with industrial sites being one of the key locations that will feel the force of these natural disasters if our climate continues to change.

While wildfires may be somewhat easier to see coming and do not start at the heart of an operational site, they still deserve attention. Having said this, it is the aforementioned fire safety concerns specific to industry environments that must be mitigated using technological innovations.

Embracing modernisation and digitisation is a must

For many industrial sites, fixed fire alarms are the system of choice, although this is not the only option. The evolution of fire safety technology has reached a defining point, whereby easy-to-install wireless systems can offer a solution to support structural or system changes, as well as much needed maintenance in industrial environments.

When automotive manufacturer BMW experienced a fault with its traditional sprinkler system at its Munich production facility in Germany, an alternative system was required for several months, ensuring the building could remain open and compliant with insurance agreements. At the time, the two options insurers considered acceptable were fire watchers or a mobile fire alarm system.

In this instance, BMW opted for Ramtech’s WES3 system – a compliant wireless fire, evacuation, and emergency alarm system that is quickly deployed and able to offer 24/7 automatic early detection. Efficient modern systems combining hardware and software are enabling minimal labor and maximum insight. Aspects of modernisation and digitisation in fire safety systems mean European industries need not fear situations where mains electricity is unavailable. For example, a three-year battery life can reassure site managers that their temporary system will be more than capable of providing protection for short-term on-site works, while integrated on-and-off-site notifications to mobile devices ensure businesses are kept in the know through a cloud-based network.

Site managers in Europe should embrace the opportunity to use connected, Internet of Things (IoT) driven technology options that will give them greater control over their operations. Fires can have devastating effects on both life and property, but these risks have changed thanks to rapid innovation. Fire is no longer something to be feared, though this is only true when the associated risks are given the acknowledgment and pre-emptive action they need.


For more information on Ramtech’s solutions, please get in touch either by phone on +44 (0)115 957 8282, by email to solutions@ramtechglobal.com or via the online enquiry form situated on our contact page.