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CARL ASKS: What's up with the new fogging Code of Practice?

CARL ASKS: What's up with the new fogging Code of Practice?

Activated fogging machine

THE QUESTION: Why has the BSIA produced a Code of Practice for security fogging when there is already a European Standard?

THE ANSWER: This is another great question, so congratulations on that front. How to answer? Let me kick off with another question: What is the definition of a camel? Answer: A racehorse designed by a CENELEC Working Group! 

This old schoolboy joke is actually a fairly good description of the work of CLC/TC79/WG10, the CENELEC working group responsible for EN 50131-8. For those of you who have no idea what this is, it is the European Standard that deals with Security Fogging Devices (SFDs). 

BS EN 50131-8 was first published in 2009. At that stage the only guidance available for installers, maintenance engineers and operators took the form of an annex (Annex C) to the standard and this was very light on detail. 

At the end of 2015 the Association of Insurance Surveyors (AiS) highlighted serious issues involving security fogging installations. Basically, fogging was not stopping the bad guys and insurers were paying out large sums of cash. 

Lee Wallace, an AiS chair, gathered together a bunch of SFD manufacturers for a meeting at New Scotland Yard. After some pretty straight talking it became apparent that the reason the installations weren't working was because the SFDs were not being specified, installed, maintained and operated consistently and correctly. 

It was at this point that I sat down with Lee Wallace and started work on an AiS Security Fogging Code of Practice. This was the first of its kind and was published in March 2016.

Yellow sign saying questions and answers

Later that same year WG10 reformed with me as convenor and was tasked to conduct a review of 50131-8. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to make changes to the Standard and incorporate some of the content from the AiS document. Sadly, despite my encouragement some members of WG10 were less enthused. Numerous meetings and hours of discussion brought only minimal changes to the Standard, and the only change to the Guidance notes was in the title: Annex C had become Annex D.

Frustrated that WG10 had been unable to 'deliver the goods' I decided to discuss the matter with Dave Wilkinson, the Technical Director of the BSIA. I explained the weaknesses of 50131-8 and the lack of guidance being offered to installers, maintainers and users. I then showed him the AiS document explaining that this only dealt with robbery and daytime raid and needed to be expanded to include anti-burglary scenarios. Finally, I asked if the Association would support the production of a more comprehensive guide. Happily, Dave said yes and within a couple of weeks I sat down with the Association's technical manager Steve Lampett and started to put pen to paper.

A year later and we are applying the final touches to the first comprehensive and definitive 'Security Fog Systems Installation, Commissioning and Maintenance - Code of Practice'. The 19-page document provides detailed guidance and is designed to alleviate issues, such as those raised in 2016. It will also, hopefully, be used by the two National Inspectorates, NSI and SSAIB, to assess existing and new installations incorporating fogging devices.

Job done? Not quite. The next step is to take this new code of practice to TC79 and demonstrate how it plugs the gaping holes in the current SFD Standard. Hopefully, the guidance will eventually form an integral part of the Standard as an annex to 50131-8. But this will require WG10 to lean more towards racehorse than camel.

Do you have a question you'd like Carl to answer? That's good man, Carl needs your questions. He hungers for them. Yearns, even. Let his vast knowledge pour out of him in a deluge. Please. Send your questions to our social media using hashtag #carlasks or email carl.asks@smoke-screen.co.uk.


Carl Gibbard

Carl Gibbard was co-founder of Concept Smoke Screen Ltd and a pioneer in the use of smoke and fog in a security role. Currently chair of the BSIA Export Council and Vice Chair of the Security Equipment Manufacturer’s Section.


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