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CCTV – offering ‘quick fire’ responses in emergent situations

According to research published by the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2013, Fire and Rescue Authorities in Britain attended 192,600 fires between April 2012 and March 2013. While this figure is nearly a third fewer than the previous year, fire still remains a very real danger for any organisation – especially those dealing with high volumes of flammable objects, like waste and recycling centres. Here, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) discusses how CCTV solutions can be utilised in order to protect such centres from risk.

Damage from fire and smoke can have detrimental effects for any organisation, but waste and recycling centres must be especially careful in order to ensure that they do not put lives at risk. Aside from the human impact, financial loss can also be devastating when it comes to fire damage. The cost of fire damage stood at a record level in 2009, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) , with insurers paying out £639 million in the first half of 2009 for damages as a result of a fire.

How can CCTV help?

The capabilities of CCTV go well beyond the stereotypical perceptions of a control room officer sat in front of a monitor. The scope of CCTV technology is constantly developing and improving and new technological advancements are regularly being rolled out in order to meet the needs of businesses.

One particular application of CCTV technology which is especially relevant to waste and recycling centres is its ability to detect and visually verify smoke and fire within a building. While traditional fire alarms are still an effective tool, they do not always guarantee an immediate response to an incident. In large premises in particular, alarms may not always detect smoke straight away and by the time the smoke has reached the detectors, the damage already done can be irreversible.

The combination of CCTV cameras with Video Content Analysis (VCA) technology means that CCTV images can be automatically analysed in order to generate useful information about the image content and subsequently issue alerts to relevant personnel where necessary. Theoretically, actions or behaviours that can be seen and accurately defined on a video image can be programmed to be automatically identified by a VCA system. VCA systems have been applied in a number of ways, including: intruder detection, people counting, automatic incident detection and smoke and fire detection. Looking specifically at smoke detection, traditional alarms react once the smoke has reached the detector, VCA systems can actually identify smoke at any distance within the cameras’ visual reach. This also means individuals do not have to compromise their own safety and approach the vicinity of a fire in order to verify its existence – a huge benefit of VCA.

This faster detection of smoke and fire at a waste and recycling centre also ensures a faster response from the emergency services and can prompt a speedy evacuation of a building. Reliable verification of a fire is extremely useful for the fire service, who are becoming increasingly reliant on visual confirmation when responding to emergency calls. The fact that the VCA can also identify the exact location of the fire is another great benefit to the fire service, directing them to the area as quickly as possible without wasting any time whilst also potentially helping to minimise damage within the building.

The importance of quality in an ever-changing landscape

When it comes to securing a waste and recycling centre from any type of threat, the most important factor is that quality security solutions are chosen from reputable suppliers that meet with the correct standards for their products and services. This is particularly important within the CCTV sector, where the standards landscape is constantly changing and improving.
Last year saw the UK Government launch their CCTV Code of Practice, providing 12 principles laid out by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner in order to regulate the quality of CCTV cameras under public sector ownership. However, research published by the BSIA, July 2013 last year found that only 1 in 70 CCTV cameras in the UK exist under public sector ownership. This means that the Government’s regulation only covers a tiny proportion of CCTV systems and that not all privately owned CCTV cameras will be operating to the standard outlined by the Government. Members of the BSIA, however, are inspected to high quality standards and must adhere to specific Codes of Practice outlined by the Association.

“The importance of encouraging the adoption of best practice among installers while driving standards of system selection, installation and operation is paramount, and the BSIA is proud to lead the way in the development and dissemination of best practice” comments Simon Adcock, Chairman of the BSIA’s CCTV Section.

In light of recent changes within the CCTV standards landscape, the BSIA has revised its own Code of Practice in order to reflect the latest changes in surveillance camera installation standards, including newly-created IEC and Cenelec standards.
Mark Wherrett, former Chairman of the BSIA’s CCTV Technical Group explains: “The BSIA’s Code of Practice remains the go-to document for all CCTV installers, so we wanted to update it to provide users with a cohesive overview of all of the standards and regulations to which they are required to adhere. The landscape of CCTV standards is complex and can be difficult to navigate, so this Code of Practice, with associated guidance, is intended to provide a single point of information for installers wishing to provide a quality service compliant to legislative requirements.” A copy of the BSIA’s latest Code of Practice can be downloaded here:

To find out more about the BSIA visit here.

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