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More than 100 Years of Protecting Lives and Assets


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More than 100 Years of Protecting Lives and Assets


Contents More than 100 years of protecting lives and assets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 The Danish Fire Protection Association: fire safety consultancy from day one . . . . . . 9 Dantest: cement, fire testing and standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 SKAFOR: from fixed insurance premiums to the creation of the Danish Institute of Fire Technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Three organisations combined into one institute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Fateful years for DBI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

33

New fire laboratory and head office at DBI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

37

‘The long arm of the authorities’ becomes a company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Developing the business with knowledge sharing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

49

R&D shaping the business of the future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Expansion based on sound finances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

61

Digitisation adds new products and new opportunities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

65

Values setting the course . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

69

DBI’s future based on its present . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 3


Exhibition poster from the Fire Prevention Exhibition at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. This motif was subsequently the first logo for the Danish Fire Protection Association.


More than 100 years of protecting lives and assets DBI – the Danish Institute of Fire and Security

to ­protect lives and assets. The methods used

Technology is a highly-specialised and modern,

have never changed either: a high degree of

knowledge-based company, and this knowledge

professionalism in everything DBI says and

is in high demand. More and more customers

does. How this professionalism is demonstrated

are keen to use DBI’s expertise and DBI is happy

has changed significantly, however.

to make its knowledge available and to serve as a sounding board for customers. DBI is a growing company and, to maintain

This book takes you back to the company’s birth in the previous century, and to the merger in 1991 of the Danish Fire Protection Association,

this position, new expertise must be

SKAFOR Fire Technology and Dantest Fire

continuously developed. The solutions that DBI

Technology into the DBI we know today as a

will sell tomorrow need to be developed today.

modern, ­knowledge-based company.

This business model relies on substantial investment in research and development

I hope you enjoy reading the book.

activities. These investments are not just a good business proposition, but are also DBI’s

Jesper Ditlev

most important task and obligation as a GTS

CEO, 2018

institute (approved technological service provider). The knowledge achieved can improve Danish small and medium-sized enterprises’ competitiveness, and achieve earnings for DBI that can be invested in even more knowledge. The role played by DBI in Danish society today has been built up over more than 100 years. From the start, DBI helped to shape the development within, initially, fire prevention, and later also security technology. Throughout the years, the goal has never changed:


Photo: Torben Ă…ndahl/Polfoto

Consultant for Denmark’s highest building In 1966, the City of Copenhagen decided to build a large new hospital in Herlev, and the Danish Fire Protection Association was involved as fire safety consultant from the outset. This advisory service extended over almost ten years, and on Herlev Hospital’s inauguration in 1976, at 120 metres the hospital became the highest building in Denmark.


After working hours, the premises should be inspected by one or more reliable employees

Photo: Holger Damgaard/Polfoto

Fire at Vester FĂŚlledvej in Copenhagen in 1930.


The Danish Fire Protection Association: fire safety consultancy from day one In 1920, the Danish Fire Protection Association had a clear objective: to limit fire damage and insurance premiums for Danish companies and institutions. This service has been in high demand ever since.

At the end of January 1920, a meeting was

“The value of the fireproof decking between the

held at Industriforeningen (the Danish Industry

ground floor and the first floor will be increased

Association) – today better known as the

significantly, if the unprotected opening is covered

Confederation of Danish Industry. Seated around

with a wooden hatch, preferably iron-clad, and is

the table were the distinguished representatives

kept closed as far as possible.”

of public authorities and industry, including the

“After working hours, the premises should be

managing director of De Danske Spritfabrikker,

inspected by one or more reliable employees.”

Chr. H. Olesen. There was just one item on the agenda: the formation of a committee that would perform inspections in order to reduce the number of fires at factories in Denmark, save lives and protect assets, and also reduce insurance premiums. Fire safety standards were poor, and in many cases the consequences of a fire in a factory were that it would be razed to the ground, and would go bankrupt and close. Now, inspired by similar committees abroad, this was going to change. The idea of a Danish version came from N. Chr. Hafn, director of the insurance company, Brandforsikringsselskabet Danske Phønix. When the meeting was adjourned, Dansk Komité til Bekæmpelse af Brandfare (the Danish Committee to Prevent the Risk of Fire) had been established. N. Chr. Hafn was the sole employee of the new committee, and he faced a gigantic task. In May 1920, De Danske Spritfabrikker performed the first fire inspection in Denmark. Before the year ended, fire inspections had taken

Portrait of the first employee and later the first Executive Director of the Danish Fire Protection Association, N. Chr. Hafn, painted by August Tørsleff.

place at an additional 31 companies. The first reports included the following advice:

9


DBI’s red cockerel In 1924, Dansk Komité til Bekæmpelse af

In 1922, one of the celebrated poster artists of the time, Sven Henriksen, drew a poster for the Danish Fire Protection Association, which would be used to advertise the ‘Fire Prevention Exhibition in the Tivoli Gardens’, an informative exhibition on fire risk and fire prevention directed at the general public. The poster’s motif is a red cockerel at which a spray of water is directed. The cockerel subsequently became the association’s logo, and it was not until the late 1980s that it was replaced with the stylised red cockerel’s head, with a bright red cockscomb. The cockerel’s watchful eye is a reference to the multi-eyed giant Argus from Greek mythology, whose many eyes could see everything. In 2017, the logo was rejuvenated, and ‘fire and security’ were added.

Brandfare changed its name to the catchier Danish Fire Protection Association. Besides inspection of companies, the association provided fire prevention advice for projects and published campaign material for the general public, as well as technical guides for installers and industry, on such subjects as the appropriate use of iron-clad wooden doors. After initial reluctance in the first few years, the insurance companies approved the association’s work and began to offer discounts to companies which conducted regular fire safety inspections. As a consequence, the association’s work suddenly became very appealing to any company, and the business grew rapidly. In 1924, The Danish Fire Protection Association’s turnover amounted to DKK 24,000, which is around DKK 650,000 in today’s money. In 1925, turnover had increased to DKK 43,000, equivalent to DKK 1.2 million today. Around 100 companies had an inspection agreement with the Danish Fire Protection

The motif from the exhibition poster was the first logo of the Danish Fire Protection Association.

Association, and its services also developed rapidly. The first course was held in 1925, and in 1926, the Danish Fire Protection Association was involved, for the first time, in drawing up legislation relating to the Fire Brigade Act, which was to reduce the fire risk nationwide. The business grew steadily up through the 1930s, when the association also began to focus on campaign material targeted at children and

DBI’s logo from the 1980s until 2017.

young people, and also visited school classes. During the Second World War, there was a need for advice concerning fuel of low quality, such as peat (which could build up soot, setting chimneys on fire), as well as gas-generator vehicles. The Danish Fire Protection Association continued to prosper, and by 1960, almost 1,000 companies had an inspection agreement. The association also became involved in international development trends during the 1960s and 1970s. For example, it helped to found CFPA

DBI’s logo today.

(Confederation of Fire Protection Associations) in 1965; an organisation which has worked ever

10


The Hotel Hafnia fire in 1973, in which 35 people perished, led to teaching and information activities.

since to improve fire safety throughout the world. There was also a lot of activity in Denmark. In 1972, the association systematised its course activities and initiated cooperation in this area with the Jutland Institute of Technology. One year later, there was a major fire at Hotel Hafnia in Copenhagen and 35 people perished. This disaster led to a new Executive Order on fire safety measures in hotels, which resulted in a number of training and information activities organised by the Danish Fire Protection Association. Photo: Polfoto

In 1978, the association for the first time investigated the reasons for fires breaking out, when it began to assist the police in investigating electrical installations in connection with fires. Today, this service has been expanded to include

The electrical installations were examined as part of the fire investigation undertaken by the Danish Fire Protection Association.

fire safety of buildings, systems, vehicles, ships and aircrafts. In the same year, in cooperation with Stats­ prøveanstalten (National Institute for Testing of Materials), the Danish Fire Protection Association became a GTS institute (approved technological service provider). In this respect, one year later, Akademiet for Tekniske Videnskabers (ATV) Brandgruppe (the Fire Group of the Academy of Technical Sciences) became part of the Danish Fire Protection Association. This fire group was set up in the early 1970s, since when it had investigated the sites of major fires in order to learn more about how fires developed, and how various construction materials were affected by fire. These activities were continued in the Danish Fire Protection Association, where ATV’s Fire Group also provided the basis for a new R&D department. As a GTS

At the end of the 1980s, the Danish Fire

institute, the Danish Fire Protection Association was

Protection Association gained its first computers,

obliged to build up and disseminate technological

to develop smoke-dispersion simulation programs.

expertise, for the benefit of business and industry

In addition, the Argos risk assessment program

in Denmark – a task in which the new department

was marketed internationally in 1991 and used by

played a central role. The Danish Fire Protection

consultants and clients to design fire protection

Association and Statsprøveanstalten (National

measures in buildings. In the same year, the

Institute for Testing of Materials) were now part of

Danish Fire Protection Association merged

the recognised technological infrastructure, which

with Dantest Fire Technology and SKAFOR Fire

entitled them to apply for subsidies from various

Technology to form DBI – the Danish Institute of

central government funds.

Fire Technology.

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A number of DBI’s research and development activities are EU-subsidised projects. One example was the DISASTER project (2012-2015). Its aim was to improve the communication between different emergency services in the event of a disaster across national borders – such as a plane crash or a natural disaster. This was based on a data model to translate map data between the different emergency services, and also on developing a training programme in which a scenario could be depicted, enabling participants to practice their communication skills. The photo is from a training drill at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, where the data model was used.

Photo: Javier Collado Valle

Better maps and communication when disaster strikes


Using a couple of timber structures and a crib fire, engineers tested two types of roofing felts’ resistance to ‘f lying burning objects’

Besides materials, Dantest also tested extinguishing equipment.


Dantest: cement, fire testing and standards It all started with investigations of cement in the 1800s, and ended with an organisation which influenced national and international standardisation, and which undertook fire tests that were accepted all over the world.

On Monday, 4 March 1907, a small group of

With bombs raining down on Europe during

engineers and technical assistants from Stats­

the Second World War, fire risk became a key

prøveanstalten (National Institute for Testing

topic, and the institute had plenty to do. Many

of Materials) gathered in a square behind the

products were impregnated to make them fire-

Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen. Using a

resistant, and this led to more and more fire

couple of timber structures and a crib fire,

testing.

the engineers tested two types of roofing felts’ resistance to ‘flying burning objects’.

MAJOR INTERNATIONAL ROLE

Once the test was completed, Denmark’s

At the end of the war, there was no decrease

first fire test had been accomplished. The

in interest in the fire technical characteristics

National Institute for Testing of Materials had

of materials and structures, both nationally

existed since 1896; first as part of what is

and internationally, and the National Institute

today the Technical University of Denmark,

for Testing of Materials’s expertise was in

and then as an independent laboratory. Its

high demand. In 1948, the institute became

aim was to perform technical and mechanical

a member of the fire safety committee under

examinations of building materials such as

IMO (International Maritime Organization),

chalk, brick and timber. During the first year, investigations included the cement to be used to expand Copenhagen’s sewerage system.

FIRE BECOMES A PRIORITY Even though the National Institute for Testing of Materials had no actual fire safety technology department, this did not stop engineers from setting fire to things in the name of science. In 1919, the institute moved to newly-built premises on Amager Boulevard, which were used right up to 1994. These customised premises were built for the purpose, and with these facilities, the National Institute for Testing

Engineers from the National Institute for Testing of Materials testing cement’s compression strength in 1946.

of Materials continued to investigate how new materials and structures were affected by fire.

15


Fire testing at the National Institute for Testing of Materials.

By performing testing in the same way, test results could apply to all Nordic countries

and the institute was also represented in ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Fire Safety. In Denmark, the National Institute for Testing of Materials chaired Danish Standards’ Committee for Building Fire Safety Technology.

The National Institute for Testing of Materials’s building on Amager Boulevard from 1919, photographed in 1945.

At the beginning of the 1950s, the fire safety activities were still at a modest level, and trials took place in a garden shed, using outdoor furnaces. With the increased focus on fire safety technology, in the late 1950s the National Institute for Testing of Materials set up a fire technology department with its own laboratory on Amager Boulevard, thereby equipping the institute to meet industry’s testing requirements. In 1973, the National Institute for Testing of Materials was involved in establishing standardisation across national borders, under Nordtest’s auspices. By performing testing in

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Brown coats and blue uniforms It was typical of the spirit of the times that in the 1970s there was a clear staff hierarchy at the National Institute for Testing of Materials. This was also apparent from the colour of the employees’ workwear: engineers wore white coats, machine engineers wore brown coats, and technical staff wore blue uniforms.

the same way in all the Nordic countries, the

National Danish Institute for Testing and

test results achieved in one country could apply

Verification, and also became a self-governing

to all Nordic countries. This collaboration was

institution. During the 1980s, however, in the

maintained until the pan-European regulations

majority of cases annual deficits were covered by

for this area, which Dantest and later also DBI

the state. Despite its adverse financial position,

were deeply involved in developing, were put in

Dantest was internationally respected for its

place many years later.

professionalism. In 1985, it was recognised by the Russian maritime authorities, and in 1989 by

NAME CHANGE TO DANTEST

the American authorities.

At the end of the 1970s, privatisation was the

In 1991, Dantest’s fire technology

order of the day in Denmark, and many state

department was part of the merger with

institutions were privatised. This also applied to

SKAFOR Fire Technology and the Danish Fire

the National Institute for Testing of Materials,

Protection Association, to form DBI.

which in 1980 changed its name to Dantest,

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DBI setting the standard for future high-bay warehouses in Denmark DBI was the fire safety consultant when JYSK in 2006-2008 built a new high-bay warehouse near Uldum, Denmark. This building complex set a whole new standard in Denmark by including three halls, which were each three times as high and seven times as large as typical high-bay warehouses at that time. It also challenged virtually all requirements in the current fire safety regulations for highbay warehouses. This task thus presented many unique challenges that required new solutions. Among other things, the buildings were fully equipped with sprinklers, water cannons were installed on the roofs, to irrigate the stores in order to prevent fire dispersion, and an artificial lake was established, to serve as a water reservoir. JYSK and DBI’s work on the project set the framework for regulations subsequently drawn up for this area.


Historically, fire safety regulations have been developed and expanded in reaction to actual fires. Once the smoke had cleared, the work began to ensure that similar fires would not break out in future.

Photo: Holger Damgaard/Polfoto


SKAFOR: from fixed insurance premiums to the creation of the Danish Institute of Fire Technology SKAFOR was established in 1896 to ensure uniform insurance prices. This development led to inspections of technical systems, the drafting of regulations, and the certification of companies.

Fire insurance was compulsory for companies,

measures, such as ‘tariff doors’ – as fire doors

which would therefore contact several

were called at that time – the company had

different insurance companies. Rather than

installed, and which premium could be set.

different insurance agents, companies only

In the 1920s, companies began to install

had to be visited by one single inspector. This

sprinkler systems and therefore required

inspector reviewed the fire safety systems,

premium reductions. This was fair, according

after which the company received quotations

to the insurance companies – as long as the

from the different insurance companies. These

quality was alright. In the 1930s, the staff at

quotations were completely identical.

the Danish Tariff Association’s offices therefore

Today, cartels and cartel pricing may sound

drew up the first rules and technical regulations

dishonest – and even illegal. But a cartel was

for the installation and project design of

the actual purpose in 1896, when the Danish

sprinkler systems. A company looking for a

insurance companies together formed Dansk

reduction of its premiums had to undertake

Tarifforening (the Danish Tariff Association).

project design and installation in line with the

Fixed insurance premium tariffs were the

regulations, use approved firms and materials,

order of the day, so that service was the only

and allow the systems to be inspected annually

parameter of competition.

by the Danish Tariff Association. In 1944, the first rules and regulations for

RULES FOR SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

fire alarm systems were introduced, and fire

The inspectors from the Danish Tariff

ventilation was added in the following years.

Association visited Danish companies in

The requirements to use approved installers

order to determine their insurance premiums.

also meant that courses – in collaboration with

In contrast to the Danish Fire Protection Association’s regular fire safety inspections,

Today, cartels and cartel pricing may sound dishonest – and even illegal

this single visit by the Danish Tariff Association could not lead to a discount. This inspection was solely a question of which fire safety

21


The Danish Tariff Association was discontinued in 1981. Instead, the Danish General Insurance Association (SKAFOR) was set up

the Danish Fire Protection Association – and company cer­tification became part of the Danish Tariff Association’s portfolio of services.

SKAFOR IS FORMED As the market was liberalised during the 1970s, views on cartel pricing changed. Now, it was not acceptable for a company to tender out its insurance to five different insurance companies, and then be visited by just one inspector from the Danish Tariff Association. Insurance companies also wished to have free competition, and the Danish Tariff Association was discontinued in 1981. Instead, Dansk Forening for Skadesforsikring (SKAFOR) (the Danish General Insurance Association) was set up as part of Insurance & Pension Denmark (IPD), which is the trade association of Danish insurance companies and industry-wide pension funds. Fixed tariffs were ruled out, but SKAFOR still set indicative rates for fire insurance, besides theft and machine insurance. S ­ KAFOR Fire Technology was a sub-division that, up to 1991, handled inspection, technical regulations and courses for fire safety systems. In 1991, SKAFOR Fire Technology was hived off from Insurance & Pension Denmark and merged with the The first regulations for automatic fire alarm systems from 1944, published by the Danish Tariff Association. These regulations set requirements for approved installers, which led to a focus on training courses.

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Danish Fire Protection Association and Dantest Fire Technology, to become the new DBI.


Photo: Holger Damgaard/Polfoto

Fire at Langeliniepavillonen in 1929. The pavilion building did not burn down, but was left standing until 1944, when the German occupying force blew it up.


A year’s consumption of sprinkler heads DBI performs annual inspections of fire safety systems all over Denmark. This includes JYSK’s highbay warehouse at Uldum. The steel shelves also constitute the building’s ­supporting structure and a total of 75,000 sprinkler heads are built into them. This is equivalent to the number of sprinkler heads installed every year in the whole of Denmark. Besides the sprinklers, DBI also inspects the automatic fire alarm system, which includes 1,500 detectors and a total-flooding extinguishing system. Here, you can see the control and indicating equipment for sprinkler systems.


The head office of the Danish Fire Protection Association at Datavej 48 in Birkerød. This head office was used from 1981 to 1997, when all of DBI moved to Jernholmen in Hvidovre.

Dantest’s fire laboratory on Amager Boulevard. After the merger, in 1994 the laboratory was moved to Industriholmen in Hvidovre, and then to Jernholmen, also in Hvidovre, in 1998.


Three organisations ­combined into one institute The financial situation was unfavourable and testing facilities were old-fashioned, so that, in order to survive, Danish fire safety expertise had to be combined. There were thus plenty of good arguments when the Danish Fire Protection Association, SKAFOR Fire Technology and Dantest Fire Technology merged to form DBI – the Danish Institute of Fire Technology in 1991.

What is the solution when fire prevention expertise

area, close to a school. In other words, a new

in Denmark is spread between a laboratory, a

solution was needed.

trade organisation and an association, and

BEGGING TO THE STATE

finances are constrained? The answer is a merger.

Dantest did not have the funds required, so

Dantest, which owned the fire laboratory, was privatised in 1980, but in several instances

it turned to the state in search of funding for

the state covered its losses. New premises and

a new laboratory. Yet the authorities were

testing facilities were needed, if Dantest Fire

reluctant, since there was no wish to spend

Technology was to maintain its strong position

even more money on Dantest. During the same period, the state was

in the fire testing field. Pan-European testing standards would soon be introduced, and the

working on combining smaller institutes into

old laboratory could not make this grade. Since

large, centralised bodies. From 1989 to 1993,

1919, Dantest had been located on Amager

the number of GTS institutes was halved, from

Boulevard, where the facilities could not be

30 to 15, so that the state viewed Dantest’s

expanded. The smoke from Dantest’s fire

approach as an opportunity to take some

laboratory was released in a densely built-up

steps in the right direction. The disappointing

Services provided by the new DBI ·· Regular fire safety inspections ·· Inspection of sprinklers and automatic fire alarm systems ·· Fire safety engineering and courses ·· Fire testing and certification ·· Fire investigation ·· Research and development Peter Johansen from the State Fire Inspection Authority was DBI’s first CEO after the merger.

27


response was that there was no more funding

Technology was an atypical area within the

for Dantest, but that a combined Danish fire

Insurance & Pension Denmark trade organisation,

technology organisation would be supported

and a separation was a logical step. The Danish

by the state.

Fire Protection Association assessed that a merger

At the end of the 1980s, the respective

would be of benefit to the business. The state

organisations were heavily engaged in

also tempted the parties with the promise of

discussions, and the authorities exerted further

larger annual subsidies.

pressure on them to achieve one single,

As result, on 8 August 1991, Dantest Fire

combined organisation that would be both

Technology, SKAFOR Fire Technology and the

professionally and financially stronger.

Danish Fire Protection Association merged into

In conjunction with the ongoing dialogue

the self-governing non-profit organisation,

between the organisations, an audit report

DBI – the Danish Institute of Fire Technology.

was prepared to study the potential effects

The remaining part of Dantest merged

of a merger. The report’s conclusions were

with the FORCE Institute, while the rest of

discouraging: even though operations would

SKAFOR remained part of Insurance & Pension

be optimised, it was doubtful whether a new,

Denmark.

combined organisation would be financially viable.

On the merger, the new fire technology institute had around 70 employees and

CREATION OF DBI

combined revenue totalling around DKK 40

Despite the gloomy outlook, in 1990 a temporary

million. Peter Johansen, technical manager

board was established, with representatives from

at Statens Brandinspektion (the State Fire

the Danish Fire Protection Association, SKAFOR,

Inspection Authority), was appointed CEO

Dantest and the Danish state. The aim was

of the new organisation, and there was no

clear: to agree on an amalgamation.

doubt about the major task which he and DBI

Everyone was interested in a merger. Dantest

faced: become a larger, professionally stronger

needed money for new facilities. SKAFOR Fire

organisation that is financially viable.

Together, but separate

The lead article in the Brandværn magazine, September 1991, on the formation of DBI.

Even though the three organisations had now been combined as one organisation, they did not share the same address from the outset. The staff of SKAFOR Fire Technology moved out to Dantest Fire Technology on Amager Boulevard, where there was plenty of space after the other Dantest departments had moved to the FORCE Institute in Brøndby; while the Danish Fire Protection Association stayed at the address in Birkerød. It took another seven years for all staff to be gathered at Jernholmen, where DBI’s head office is located today.

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Photo: Per Løchen/Scanpix

DBI investigates Scandinavian Star During the night of 7 April 1990, a fire broke out on the passenger ship, Scandinavian Star, which was en route from Oslo to Frederikshavn. The ship was evacuated and towed into the harbour, where it was found that 159 of the 482 passengers had died. The Danish Fire Protection Association, and later DBI, was tasked with investigating the ship’s warning system. DBI’s work was later included in the investigation committee’s report on the fire disaster. The report led to the captain, the executive director and the owner of the ship receiving the maximum sentence for infringement of the maritime safety laws.


Technical investigations when damage has occurred DBI’s fire investigators investigate the scene of a fire. Technical investigations provide as many answers as possible to a multitude of questions when damage has occurred. For instance, where the fire started, how it started and whether the fire safety systems and other technical installations functioned as intended. In addition to the investigation of burntout buildings, DBI also carries out fire investigations of e.g. cars, construction equipment, maritime installations and ships. The photograph is from Revinge in Sweden, where DBI’s fire investigation department is taking part in an exercise with police technicians.


Inspection of an automatic fire alarm system. During the first years after the merger, inspection accounted for more than half of DBI’s revenue, among other things due to strong growth in AFA and sprinkler systems.

To make the work more profitable, the procedures were changed


Fateful years for DBI Turn up prices, maximise profitability, and keep tight control of costs. This is how DBI managed to turn a profit at the start of the 1990s.

Prospects were bleak. The audit report

inspections, this decrease was far exceeded

prepared with the merger plans showed that

by the growth in the number of new fire alarm

it was doubtful whether the new, combined

and sprinkler systems. For a long period, the

DBI would be able to survive financially. The

inspection of fire safety systems accounted for

greatest challenge was to achieve financially

over 50 per cent of DBI’s total revenue.

viable operation.

To make the work more profitable, the

This work began with the appointment of the

procedures were changed. Inspectors were

new Board of Directors in 1991. By tradition,

assigned a geographical area, to connect them

the chairmen of the Danish Fire Protection

more closely to their customers. New offices in

Association had considerable experience from

Jutland meant that travel expenses

the emergency services. The new chairman

– especially across the Great Belt – were

was Knud Rasmussen, who was CEO of NKT

reduced significantly, while inspectors spent

Holding A/S. With an MSc in Economics and

less time on transport and more time on

Business Administration, he had little fire safety

actual inspections. The individual departments

experience, but he did know a lot about finance

were also subject to tight financial control.

and running companies.

Management sent back the departmental

The goal of sound operation meant that

budgets with significant reductions. The results

introducing major new investments was not a

were hard to deny. In 1994, DBI returned a

matter of urgency. Therefore there was no rush

profit of DKK 1.3 million from revenue totalling

to find a new head office. First of all, operations

DKK 63 million.

had to be viable by ensuring that DBI could operate on commercial terms, but still with a basic state subsidy.

The Great Belt Fixed Link

As a consequence of the merger, several administrative functions were combined, and received an overhaul, including new IT systems. Changes were also made on the revenue side, with the inspection area as a profitable business. The inspection area from SKAFOR Photo: Bo Tornvig/Scanpix

Fire Technology had a monopoly on inspections of fire alarm and sprinkler systems, while the inspection area from the Danish Fire Protection Association had a virtual monopoly on regular fire safety inspections. This made it possible to adjust prices and increase revenue. Despite the decline in the number of regular fire safety

33

Every year, millions of passengers in cars and trains cross the Great Belt Fixed Link, which DBI helped to achieve in the 1990s. DBI’s fire safety consultants calculated and assessed a number of safety factors for the new bridges. After a serious fire in one of the tunnel boring machines, DBI’s fire investigators examined the large TBM while it was still located below the Great Belt.


Creative solutions achieving architectural ambitions DBI was the fire safety consultant for the construction of Fiberline Composite’s factory in Middelfart, Denmark. This new complex presented a number of fire safety challenges. The factory was designed by Jan Søndergaard, and its architecture is spectacular. The roof structure is made from unprotected steel, which requires a powerful fire ventilation system. The building complex includes production, warehouse and administration facilities. To ensure a cohesive, open, atmosphere, there is a three-storey high glass wall inside the building, between production and administration. To safeguard the glass wall’s fire safety characteristics, a unique sprinkler solution for the glass wall was developed and tested. This involved advanced fire testing in DBI’s laboratory, where the windows were subject to fire testing, while water was sprinkled into the furnace. As a result, the architectural and production ambitions for the new complex were achieved.


The new furnaces arriving at DBI’s new laboratory at Industriholmen, Avedøre Holme, in 1994.


New fire laboratory and head office at DBI New testing facilities were one of the principal arguments in favour of the merger. Yet they were not achieved before 1994 – three years after the merger. It took even longer for the entire organisation to be gathered at one location.

Immediately after the merger in 1991, SKAFOR

Avedøre Holme industrial park, southwest of

Fire Technology moved from Insurance &

Copenhagen. Here, a property was leased and

Pension Denmark to Dantest Fire Technology

its fitting-out commenced. This was a perfect

on Amager Boulevard. The largest group,

location, since the nearby motorway made it

the Danish Fire Protection Association’s staff,

easy to bring in components and materials for

stayed at its headquarters in Birkerød. The

testing, and the proximity to the airport made

main plan, however, was to gather all staff at

it easy for customers from abroad to visit the

the same address, but first, the financial basis

laboratory.

for this had to be in place. premises that could become an ultra-modern

BANKRUPT ESTATE WITH AMPLE SPACE

fire laboratory. After the merger, the testing

After an investment of DKK 20 million, a

department continued to take part in drawing

new fire laboratory was ready in 1994.

up common European testing standards, with

Nonetheless, there was also an awareness that

which the new laboratory had to be ready to

the laboratory might have to be moved again,

comply. Suitable premises were found in the

so it was agreed with the contractor that the

In the first instance, there was a search for

Conference table with a touch of history When DBI took over the premises at Jernholmen in Hvidovre, a large conference table was included. This was left behind by the previous owners, KS Entreprise, which was the contractor element of the illustrious consulting engineering firm, Kampsax A/S, which was later acquired by COWI A/S. During the German occupation, Kampsax had offices at Dagmarhus on Town Hall Square in Copenhagen, which the Germans commandeered and used as their own headquarters. At the conference table now found at Jernholmen, on 5 May 1945 the German Reichsbevollmächtigter Werner Best signed the German capitulation in Denmark.

37

The conference table at Jernholmen is a historical legacy from the previous owners.


The new laboratory When the new laboratory was completed in 1994, it was state-of-the-art in the Nordic region. The new equipment included: ·· A vertical furnace ·· A combi-furnace with related superstructure ·· A lightweight concrete housing for full-scale trials ·· Modern air extraction and flue gas cleaning ·· Crane

The laboratory is continuously updated, so that today it continues to fulfil the requirements for a modern fire laboratory. This includes the addition of: ·· A model furnace ·· Mini-furnaces ·· A high-temperature furnace ·· A test bench for smoke sealing of doors ·· SBI test rig ·· Extinguishing hall ·· Facilities for testing of gas appliances ·· Various minor equipment

The new fire laboratory was built at Industriholmen and then moved to Jernholmen, shown here in the photo.


It was agreed with the contractor that the laboratory’s large-scale equipment could be moved relatively easily laboratory’s large-scale equipment could be moved relatively easily. Two years later, a

‘Fluerne på væggen’ from Nordisk Film.

bankrupt estate at Avedøre Holme was found,

DBI hits the silver screen

with ample space for the fire laboratory and all staff. In 1997, DBI’s head office was moved

In 2005, DBI’s head office at Jernholmen became part of Danish film-making history. It was used as the film set for Nordisk Film’s shooting of ‘Fluerne på væggen’ (Flies on the Wall), with Trine Dyrholm, Lars Brygmann and Kurt Ravn in the leading roles. DBI’s CEO had to leave his office, which for a brief interval served as the mayor’s office in the film.

from Birkerød to the new Jernholmen office at Avedøre Holme, followed by the fire laboratory just one year later. At that time, 88 people worked at DBI, while today DBI has around 200 employees.

OFFICES IN JUTLAND Local offices were established concurrently with the completion of the new fire laboratory. In 1994, DBI opened an office in Fredericia, followed by another new office in 1995 – this

activities were still centred in the Copenhagen

time in Aarhus. These new offices served

area, and later at Jernholmen. Today, the

primarily as a base for the inspectors working

offices in Jutland offer all of DBI’s services and

west of the Great Belt, while most of DBI’s

products, with the exception of fire testing.

The office in Fredericia, when it was located on Vesterballevej.

Jernholmen, before the renovation.

39

The office in Aarhus was initially located in Skejby.


World-renowned testing A ship ceiling is removed from the furnace following a test lasting an hour. The ceiling is exposed to temperatures of over 900 degrees Celsius and is therefore red-hot when the test ends. DBI’s fire laboratory is popular among international customers, also in the maritime sector. A fire test carried out by DBI is recognised by a long list of maritime organisations and national authorities, so that testing by DBI can result in approvals for use on all the world’s oceans.


The work to achieve accreditation for inspections showed that DBI had to tighten up its act in order to be customer-oriented.


‘The long arm of the authorities’ becomes a company How good are monopoly-based companies and public institutions at customer care? This was not exactly part of the new company’s DNA. Yet DBI soon adopted the business community’s values of customer focus and effectiveness.

Business and industry’s impact on the young organisation was the basis for DBI’s transformation into a company that navigated according to the real conditions faced by customers

A change of culture was needed for DBI to become a well-run business. Both the Danish Fire Protection Association and SKAFOR Fire Technology held monopolies, and Dantest Fire Technology had been a public institution in the past. Customers perceived them as the ‘long arm of the authorities’ and the concept of customer service was not high on the agenda. Customers and finances ranked lower

company that navigated according to the real

in achieving the ultimate objective: the best

conditions faced by customers.

possible fire safety based on high professional

The need for a change of culture was highly

standards.

apparent when a quality manual was to be prepared. This took place in 1996-1997, as

ECONOMIC AUSTERITY MEASURES MADE THEIR MARK

part of DBI’s work to become accredited by

Soon after the merger, the management

its inspections. When the quality manual was

decided that changes were needed. DBI would

to be written, the working group reviewed all

no longer be the ‘long arm of the authorities’

of the inspection activities’ procedures and

and would instead operate as a company,

processes. It became clear that the efforts

focusing on its bottom line, effectiveness and

to stay focused on customer service had not

customer satisfaction. The Board positions

been completely successful. As a result, the

were held by representatives from business

business and the customer-related processes

and industry, which had just weathered

had to be brought into line with competitive

increased competition and falling demand,

conditions. DBI began to send out written

as a consequence of the 1980s’ economic

quotations, and customers had a fixed contact

austerity measures. Their awareness of the

and access via a sales department.

DANAK (the Danish Accreditation Fund) for

real conditions soon had an impact on DBI’s culture. This culture did not change within a

FOCUS ON CUSTOMERS’ NEEDS

month, nor within a year, yet business and

The process of achieving accreditation for

industry’s impact on the young organisation

inspection and certification of fire safety

was the basis for DBI’s transformation into a

systems by DANAK in itself showed how DBI

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Annual meeting at the Danish Fire Protection Association in 1991, shortly before the merger. At the time, the association had a reputation for being ‘the long arm of the authorities’.

The change of culture was also ref lected in the company’s job ads. There was a need for a new type of employee, who was attracted by a more competitive environment, which focused on the bottom line, effectiveness and customer relationships

was giving higher priority to customers’

THE MONOPOLY WAS BROKEN

requirements. Business and industry had a need

Competition was inevitable, and in 2000, a

to achieve certification and to offer certified

group of former DBI employees created a

solutions, and DBI wished to meet this need.

direct competitor to DBI’s inspection activities. Even though DBI had sought to adapt to the

NEW TYPE OF EMPLOYEES

new terms of competition, this still came as a

The change of culture was also reflected in the

shock. As a consequence, prices were under

company’s job ads. There was a need for a

pressure. With a small set-up and a more agile

new type of employee, who was attracted by a

organisation, the new competitor could offer

more competitive environment, which focused

lower prices, which cost DBI customers.

on the bottom line, effectiveness and customer

Since DBI had no chance of winning a

relationships.

price war in the short term, instead attention

DBI now had even sharper focus on

was turned to delivering better service and

companies, after many years of fire prevention

solutions to e.g. facilitate customers’ own

campaigns targeted at the general public.

work, thereby creating added value.

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Nr. 1 Marts 2014

BRAND & SIKRING 1/2018 Storbrand truede historiske træhuse i Norge ÅRSAG TIL

P-HUS-BRAND I LIVERPOOL

Den Gamle By er godt sikret mod brand

STADIG UKLAR

Manglende brandteknisk viden om nye materialer ARKITEKTERS

BATTERIPROJEKT VISER STORT

FOKUS PÅ BRAND GIVER

BILLIGERE PROJEKTE

R

BEHOV FOR RETNINGSLINJER

DBI’s many magazines DBI has a long tradition for publishing magazines. Back in 1934, the Danish Fire Protection Association published its first magazine, ‘Brandværn i Virksomheder’ (Fire Prevention in Companies), which was later followed by ‘Brandvæsenet paa Landet’ (Fire Services in Rural Areas). In 1970, the two were combined into the monthly magazine ‘Dansk Brandværn’ (Danish Fire Prevention), and in 1975 this became ‘Brandværn’ (Fire Prevention), published in cooperation with Brandinspektør­foreningen (the Danish Association of Fire Inspectors). This magazine focused on professional topics and was sent to DBI’s customers and stakeholders interested in using DBI’s expertise. In 2003, ‘Brandværn’ was discontinued and DBI began to issue ‘Brand & Sikring’ (Fire & Security), as DBI’s own magazine. Today, ‘Brand & Sikring’ is published four times a year.

PAS PÅ, HVIS DU

BRUGER STRØM OM NATTEN


Unique fire safety for the wet element When the successor to Danmarks Akvarium, the National Aquarium Denmark, was built, architecture and presentation were the focal points. The building was designed by 3XN, and DBI were fire safety consultants for the project, ensuring solutions that both allowed for eye-catching architecture and made sure that the general public did not notice the fire safety installations. For example, the building’s fire sections were incorporated into the architecture, while a series of air cushions, which normally serve as a roof, will burn away and function as smoke ventilation in the event of a fire. This eliminated any need to install large skylights and smoke vents in the building.


Courses become popular in the 2000s. Training in use of fire blankets.


Developing the business with knowledge sharing DBI’s considerable professional expertise was in seriously high demand in the 2000s. As a consequence, existing business areas grew, and new activities were added.

Things developed quickly in the 2000s. The

creative, proactive approach to customers’ needs

Danish construction industry was booming, and

and requirements. Besides this, actual sales

in 2004 the stakes were even higher when,

canvassing was launched. The offices in Jutland

after several years of preparation, function-

also began to offer consultancy services, which

based fire requirements were introduced in

were now available nationwide. In cooperation

building regulations. This enabled clients to

with architects, the consultancy department

disregard the previous prescriptive fire safety

took part in competition projects and business-

requirements. Now, more flexible fire safety

to-business events, in order to position itself

technology solutions were accepted, with a

as a creative, solution-oriented partner. These

more creative architectural approach – provided

efforts were successful, and since the function-

that a fully responsible fire safety level could be

based fire safety requirements were introduced,

documented.

Fire Safety Consultancy’s revenue has increased

Many used this opportunity, and the need

many times over.

for fire safety documentation therefore expanded. DBI was already known for its

ATTRACTING GLOBAL CUSTOMERS

professional fire safety consultants, so

The testing area also saw a change in its

demand increased for the necessary advice

terms of competition, as Asian and eastern

and documentation. Many of the large consulting engineering firms also began to offer fire safety advisory services. Even though the workload was increasing, more parties were competing to hire competent consultants, and at this time DBI lost many competent fire safety consultants to consulting engineering firms.

DBI AS THE CUSTOMER’S PARTNER As a consequence of this new competition, DBI’s fire safety consultants changed their working method. DBI’s Fire Safety Consultancy was previously the source of answers to many

Despite greater competition in recent years, DBI’s fire laboratory’s high standards of knowledge and quality have maintained its popularity.

different questions concerning the building regulations, but now the consultants took a more

49


European competitors came into the market

ACQUISITION OF NUSA

and offered lower prices. They could not

Not only Fire Safety Consultancy and Testing

compete in terms of levels of expertise and

were busy disseminating DBI’s knowledge.

quality, however. In the 2000s, DBI speeded

Training courses, which until 2005 were

up the preparatory work to become the

part of Fire Safety Consultancy, were hived

leader and first mover in fulfilling the coming

off as a separate department, and activities

pan-European testing standards and the

intensified. The range of courses offered was

global standards in the maritime area. The

developed continuously, to stay abreast of

aim was to create a world-class, cutting-edge

customers’ requirements. Among other things,

laboratory, to help customers operate globally

on the introduction of the function-based fire

in the best possible way. The result of this

requirements, DBI was ready with a series of

work was that construction testing by DBI

courses in this area. In the following years,

gave access to the entire European market.

these courses were popular among engineers,

Since maritime testing by DBI was recognised

architects, building experts and municipal

by virtually all of the world’s maritime

construction project advisers. From 2000

authorities – including the US Coast Guard,

to 2008, the course department’s revenue

the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping

increased from DKK 3 million to DKK 21

and other maritime authorities under the IMO

million, thanks to popular courses for housing

(International Maritime Organization) – ship

associations, building up training programmes

elements tried and tested by DBI could be

such as ‘CFPA Brandteknisk diplomuddannelse

used on ships all over the world. This made

og Eksamineret Sikringsleder’, and also the

DBI’s fire laboratory attractive to international

acquisition in 2006 of Denmark’s leading

customers, which increasingly entrusted

provider of security training programmes,

testing to DBI.

NUSA (Nordisk Uddannelsescenter, Sikringsog Alarmteknik), in Frederikshavn.

This surge of interest led certification activities to increase to such an extent that, in 2013, they were hived off from DBI to the

FIRE INVESTIGATION

subsidiary DBI Certification A/S. Customers

During the same period, DBI launched fire

drew on DBI’s expertise and experience as a

investigation courses for the insurance sector.

source of advice and guidance based on their

DBI had considerable experience from these

specific products.

investigations, and the insurance sector could derive great benefit from this expertise when

In view of its considerable knowledge of pan-European testing standards, DBI’s fire

determining whether a fire needed further

laboratory began to offer EGOLF – training

investigation, and how to avoid destroying

courses for laboratory staff in this area.

any evidence. Fire investigation also widened the scope of

Today, the fire laboratory holds flexible accreditation in terms of choice of testing

their services. DBI had been investigating fires in

method, which continues to attract customers

buildings since 1978 and built up a good name

from all over the world. Testing by DBI’s gas

in this area. Investigation of fires in vehicles

laboratory, which was added in 2004, also

and then on ships was also introduced. Hazard

gave access to the entire European market

statements were also offered, as a fire safety

and has made the laboratory popular in e.g.

assessment of risks in the event of a fire.

China and the USA.

50


Publications play an important role for knowledge dissemination Ever since the establishment of the Danish Fire Protection Association and SKAFOR, knowledge dissemination has always taken high priority, with publishing house activities and the publication of a large number of technical guides and guidelines. The material from the two organisations provided the terms of reference within fire safety throughout the Danish construction sector. DBI took on this important role as a GTS institute and has continued it ever since the merger in 1991. In 2004, DBI published its first handbook, ‘Håndbog om Brandsikring af Byggeri’ (Handbook on Fire Safety in Buildings). This handbook soon became popular with anyone engaged in fire safety project design. The handbook helps to disseminate DBI’s knowledge and turn DBI’s interpretation of acceptable fire safety levels into general technical knowledge within this area. In 2011, it was followed up with ‘Håndbog om brandsikring af småhuse’ (Handbook on Fire Safety in Small Buildings), and in 2013 with ‘Brandsikring af Lagerog Industribygninger’ (Fire Safety in Warehouse and Industrial Buildings).


Fire safety under pressure A High Ventilation Valve for ships was tested in order to achieve certification by DBI Certification A/S, which is DBI’s subsidiary. The valve prevents a fire on the deck of a tanker from spreading to the ship’s load, below deck. During testing, air and gas are mixed, and then pressurised. This pressure causes the valve to open, and a pilot flame ignites the mixture of air and gas, as if a fire had broken out on a ship’s deck. When the pressure is relieved, the valve will close, without the fire spreading to the load below deck.


The increased focus on R&D activities entails cooperation with a large number of Danish and European companies, universities and organisations. This is all about developing the solutions of tomorrow.


R&D shaping the business of the future Computer simulations in the early 1980s became an important aspect of safe­ guarding DBI’s future. Today, R&D activities are a key aspect of DBI’s work.

­The history of DBI’s future begins in the past.

performance contracts with the Danish state.

More specifically in 1978, when the Danish

These activities comprised a large number

Fire Protection Association, cooperating with

of measures to ensure that DBI could handle

Dantest Fire Technology, was approved by

the tasks set by the business community.

the Danish state as a technological service

The funds were e.g. used for DBI’s work of

provider (GTS), also in order to gather Danish

building up expertise and technically preparing

fire safety expertise under one organisation.

for compliance with the pan-European testing

The Danish Fire Protection Association gained

standards that were implemented in Denmark

the new area of Research and Development

in 2004. The underlying standardisation and

(R&D), and immediately focused on state-

infrastructure work was co-financed from the

supported research tasks.

performance contract funds. Equivalent work

The introduction of computers in the 1980s

was done on the coming function-based fire

opened up new opportunities in the fire safety

requirements, which were also introduced in

area. In 1988, the first Danish fire safety

2004.

simulation program was launched, to simulate

There was relatively modest development

and calculate smoke dispersion. In the same

of new projects at the start of the 2000s. DBI

year, the ARGOS fire simulation program commenced. The first version was completed in

Testing of an extinguishing system with inert gas.

1991, and newer versions are still used today. DBI also investigated potential alternatives to halon-based firefighting systems. This led to solutions such as water mist and extinguishing systems based on inert gas.

EXPERIENCE AND RESEARCH R&D activities were continued up through the 1990s. DBI took part in a European project to prevent forest fires, and the work of developing and disseminating replacements for halon-based firefighting systems continued. Besides these major projects, DBI also gained support for a number of minor activities under

55


focused its R&D efforts on compliance with

a strategy was adopted whereby R&D at DBI

the new systems for testing and fire safety

would no longer solely concern standardisation

advisory services, which in that period would

and competence building. From the end of

entail significant changes for the construction

the 2000s, DBI therefore intensified its work

industry. With a new regulatory foundation

on research projects. The basic approach was

and international classification standards in

that the projects would result in products and

place, there was natural development potential

services for business and industry, thereby

for research at DBI. At the end of the 2000s,

generating business for DBI. Projects e.g. concerned how to use new construction materials with weak fire safety properties.

3 R&D projects 1 Prototype Fire Lab (PROFIL) Computer simulation and scaled fire tests are two central tools in the project, to give producers an indication of their products’ fire safety capabilities during the concept and development phases for new products. This ensures that the products are at the required level before the fire test, making it less expensive and easier to adjust the fire safety level in the course of product development.

PROACTIVE SOLUTIONS The increased R&D investment meant that DBI began to engage in cooperation with a large number of Danish and European institutes, universities and other organisations, for the joint development of tomorrow’s solutions for the business community. In 2016, DBI furthermore engaged in cooperation with KICT (the Korean Institute of Construction Technology). Besides result contracts, financing comes

2 Decision-making support for easy digital project design of fire safety The project is developing an IT program for digital building information models (BIM), which indicate whether a 3D model of a building with fire safety solutions fulfils the prescriptive requirements. In time, the solutions must also be able to propose new solutions when a building falls outside the prescriptive system.

from a number of institutions, including the EU, private foundations and government pool funds, and in particular a large self-financing element. DBI’s staff from the various departments are attached to the various different projects, and with their knowledge of the customers’ day-to-day activities, they can ensure that research is use-oriented and useful for customers. The universities undertake basic research and contribute

3 Fehmarn SafetyLab The project will yield two services that can be applied to the coming Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link: a virtual testing environment for security technologies, and a digital emergency simulator which provides an overview of the risk level, and can also simulate virtual emergency situations in order to train and strengthen operational and tactical emergency plans, e.g. in connection with infrastructure.

knowledge that, in projects with DBI, is adjusted to match business and industry’s needs, and DBI’s business. This e.g. concerns the PROFIL project, which concerns simulation and scaling in conjunction with fire safety testing. The research projects express a new strategy whereby DBI to a far greater extent wishes to be at the forefront of development, in order to continuously deliver and help customers to develop their activities.

56


DBI was the host when CFPA Europe held its general assembly in Copenhagen in 2014. DBI’s CEO, Jesper Ditlev, is chairman of this organisation.

Dedicated to fire safety development Besides the major projects to create new solutions, DBI is deeply involved in the ongoing development of fire safety. In cooperation with authorities and trade organisations, DBI e.g. maintains and develops Guidelines 001–006. They include requirements concerning personal certification, company approval of installers, third-party control and system maintenance of all types of fire safety systems. The guidelines ensure the uniform high quality of the Danish fire safety systems, and they are a useful tool for installers, clients, insurance companies and authorities.

57

DBI is also represented in a large number of committees working with fire safety. In Denmark, this includes the fire safety committees under Danish Standards, while internationally, DBI takes part in CEN (European Committee for Standardization), ISO (International Organization for Standardization), CFPA (Confederation of Fire Protection Associations), Insurance Europe and EGOLF (European Group of Organisations for Fire Testing, Inspection and Certification).


DBI and Denmark’s largest CCTV system In 2009, DBI advised the Copenhagen Police on the establishment of Denmark’s most comprehensive and advanced CCTV system in public spaces to date. Thirty-four video cameras, recording in HD, cover the western part of Strøget in Copenhagen, from Gammeltorv to City Hall Square.


In 2000, DBI included the security area and changed its name to the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology

Fire extinguishing test at DBI, Jernholmen. A sound financial basis for testing, inspection and fire safety consultancy services led DBI to consider new areas.


Expansion based on sound finances DBI’s financial situation was sound and stable throughout the 1990s. DBI therefore began to look for potential acquisition and expansion candidates. The ambition to achieve sound operation was

FRIDA, which appeared in 2013. In the same year,

fulfilled in 1990s. DBI returned annual profits from

DBI introduced the Digital Operations Journal and

operations, and expansion became a key topic

the DBI Egenkontrol for own control of fire safety,

at Board meetings. As a consequence, in 2000

and later also Digitalt Beredskab. In 2016, DBI

DBI included the security area and changed its

opened an office in Norway, with focus on fire

name to the Danish Institute of Fire and Security

investigations, and in 2014-2018, DBI also had an

Technology – but retained the abbreviation,

office in Esbjerg, Denmark.

DBI. At the same time, SikkerhedsBranchen

Since the merger, product certification had

(the Danish Trade Organisation for Safety and

been undertaken by the testing department. Yet

Security) moved its secretariat, and NUSA

as the area became subject to higher and higher

(Nordisk Uddannelsescenter, Sikrings- og

demand, in 2014 the service was spun off from

Alarmteknik) its Zealand office, to DBI, which

DBI to the subsidiary DBI Certification A/S.

gained the name of ’House of Security’. DBI worked closely with NUSA, which had course facilities in Frederikshavn. NUSA was established in 1989 to offer courses for locksmiths and alarm technicians, but also offered the special authorised security manager training programme. In 2003, EUC Nord took over NUSA, and in 2006 DBI acquired NUSA and added security training to its course catalogue. As part of its security strategy, in 2013 DBI acquired Group Confidence’s investigation department. This meant that DBI could now offer such services as investigation of counterfeit

Testing of gas-consuming equipment

goods, restoration of lost computer data, security

In 2004, DBI took over the commercial activities of Dansk Gasmateriel Prøvning in conjunction with the establishment of the Danish Safety Technology ­Authority in Esbjerg. DBI thereby undertook the testing and certification of gas appliances such as gas grills and gas burners for caravans, for the Danish and European market. DBI cooperates with a large number of testing laboratories in e.g. China, the USA and Italy, on certification for the European market.

investigations, and awareness services in conjunction with Social Engineering. DBI also closely monitored fire safety areas and in 2013, the IT company Taulov Data’s business continuity activities were acquired, in order for DBI to develop a fire inspection program. In cooperation with the Association of Municipal Emergency Contingency Managers, this became

61


FREDERIKSHAVN

DBI’s offices After the merger in 1991, DBI expanded its presence throughout Denmark. In 1994, the first area office opened in Fredericia, followed by the office in Aarhus in 1995. In 2006, DBI purchased NUSA (Nordisk Uddannelsescenter, Sikrings- og Alarmteknik) in Frederikshavn, and in 2016 DBI opened an office in Oslo.


OSLO

AARHUS

HVIDOVRE

FREDERICIA


Customers’ processes are becoming digital. DBI is seizing these opportunities and developing them further.


Digitisation adds new products and new opportunities Digitisation, the fourth industrial revolution, is also opening up new opportunities in the fire safety and security area. DBI is seizing these opportunities and developing them further. An old idea was rejuvenated in 2011. DBI drew

in the form of shorter time-to-market and lower

up an EU application for support for a project in

fire-testing costs, since the number of erroneous

collaboration with Lund University and five PhD

tests was reduced. In many cases, DBI can use

students. The idea was to examine whether

calculation and scaling to produce sufficient

data and models could be used to simulate what

documentation for the approval of new varieties

happens to a product affected by fire, rather than

of building materials without physical fire tests.

actual fire testing of the product. The method required a lot of computer power, and this was

DIGITAL FIRE SAFETY

available to DBI in the early 2010s, thanks to

Customers’ processes are becoming digital, and

the rapid technological development. The EU

DBI is keeping up with this development. Today,

approved the application, and in 2013, five PhD

drawing offices use digital 3D models of full

students commenced the FIRE TOOLS project, as

buildings. DBI is therefore developing a solution

the company’s first large research project to utilise

for the IT programs used by drawing offices, in

the new digital opportunities. During the next four

order to include fire safety in the 3D models. In

years, data was collected, models were set up,

the first instance, this tells us whether the fire

and hypotheses were tested, thereby taking the

safety solutions in a 3D model of a building fulfil

initial steps towards simulation of fire testing.

the prescriptive requirements. Ultimately, with the help of machine learning/artificial intelligence and

KNOWLEDGE LEADING TO SERVICES

the knowledge gained from approved solutions,

The knowledge generated by this project

safety solutions when a building extends beyond

was the basis for a number of associated DBI

the prescriptive system.

the solution must itself be able to propose fire

projects. To ensure that the new knowledge was leveraged, in 2016 DBI established the Advanced

IT CRIME

Services department, which combines theoretical

Digitisation also plays an important role in the

knowledge with the needs of customers in

fire safety area. As Danish companies become

the construction industry and the maritime

increasingly more digitised, they are also more

sector. This led to scaling projects, for example,

vulnerable to hackers, IT crime and Social

whereby small fire tests of materials, combined

Engineering, which concerns manipulating

with simulation, were used to assess and

employees to divulge confidential information.

optimise new products’ fire safety characteristics,

This risk is also the focal point of a number of

before customers invested in full-scale fire tests.

DBI projects and services to test and improve

This gave significant advantages for customers

companies’ resistance to attacks of this type.

65


Mini-furnace saving time and money DBI’s mini-furnace is a learning tool that customers can use in the concept and development phase for new products. Mini-scale testing of materials and building elements gives producers worthwhile information about how their products are affected by fire. This saves them from choosing the wrong structures, and also indicates when it may be worthwhile to invest in a full-scale classification test. In this way, product development becomes faster and less expensive.


ONE DBI DBI is presented to customers as one single company.

DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH It is important to try out new things and mistakes are allowed if we learn from them.

FROM OUTSIDE AND INWARDS At DBI, we seek to understand customers’ requirements as well as we can.

ONE TO ONE Customers and colleagues are people, too, and DBI holds an obligation towards people.

BUSINESS ACUMEN It takes two parties to close a good deal and we wish to ensure the customer a good experience by fulfilling the customer’s various different needs.


Values setting the course In 2009, DBI set out a number of values that had a fundamental impact on the company. This resulted in a new structure and increased interest in customers, management and strategies.

The values which underpinned DBI’s work

of just good products, sales, service and

throughout more than 100 years were based

development.

on a deep professional interest and attention

This strategy work was designed as learning

to technical detail. In 2009, DBI’s management

processes that included both management and

group reconsidered and formulated DBI’s values,

employees in the hunt for solutions to future

to bring them up to date.

challenges. Thanks to a large sphere of contact

These values were printed on coffee cups,

with customers and insight into their day-to-

and incorporated in the day-to-day work,

day work, the strategy was still down to earth,

as the basis for decisions. The values made

and the work was implemented as continuous

new requirements of decision makers in

improvement, rather than as bombastic

the organisation in a new way, calling for

changes in direction. This is still the case today.

responsibility throughout the organisation.

The strategy work has a clear goal: DBI

Internal rules were played down, and instead

­provides knowledge to improve customers’

there was ­focus on creating the right culture

opportunities, and the strategy work will ensure

and a sound business platform, as indicated by

that this continues. If DBI does not do this,

the values.

the strategy work will help to find and correct

This brought changes to how employees

errors, so that customers can once again obtain

worked. Instead of complying with a set of

the right knowledge for their specific situation.

rules for how to do their jobs, employees were to live the values in their everyday work, which

STRATEGY AND STABILITY

set higher personal requirements of them.

From the outset, the strategy work was a

The values also meant that DBI overall

learning process. This meant that errors, lack of

renewed its interest in market demand and

data and erroneous conclusions were accepted,

customers’ problems. As a consequence,

while prejudices, rigid thinking and defensive

internal development projects were

attitudes were not. Learning was the basis for

supplemented with market analyses and

the strategies and the future and was also the

increased customer dialogue.

essence of the approach to customers. The strategy processes have contributed to

This value-based approach introduced three-year strategy processes which kept the

stable growth since 2008 – in terms of finances,

com­pany focused on serving as a knowledge

staff culture and personal career opportunities.

centre in the fire and security areas. In

Initiative runs high at DBI, so it is only natural

addition, the company’s organisation was

to use this to set the course for the future.

adjusted in line with the values, in order to

The contact that employees have with

promote added value for customers, instead

customers creates an agile company.

69


Valuable morning assembly One of DBI’s values is ‘one DBI’. This is reinforced when, after the monthly morning meeting for all employees at the head office at Jernholmen, there is an opportunity to join in the singing around the piano in the foyer.


DBI has increasing focus on R&D activities. DBI also wishes to have a permanent presence abroad.


DBI’s future is based on its present DBI has played many roles in its more than 100 years of existence. Common to all these roles is that they have been continuously adjusted, to ensure that the organisation was in line with its times and could meet the market’s demands.

Today, DBI produces solutions that are in high

­knowledge is not only relevant in Denmark,

demand among the business community both

however, so that the ambition is to also

in Denmark and abroad. As a company that

achieve a permanent presence abroad.

not only performs good testing or inspection,

The services which DBI offers the market

but also delivers value to customers and

today originate not only from acquisitions and

helps them to meet their challenges, DBI

new areas, but also from the company’s own

could achieve profitable growth, despite

R&D activities. All elements of the business

the financial crisis. In 2008, DBI had 130

depend on developing new knowledge,

employees. Today, there are around 200

and on R&D contributing new products and

employees at four offices in Denmark and one

ser­vices. Recent years’ R&D investments

office in Norway. The company is growing

will therefore be followed up with further

and expects to expand even further in the

investments in the future.

future. Greater efforts are being made to company and dialogue partner for customers,

KNOWLEDGE FOR THE BENEFIT OF EVERYONE

and concurrently, DBI expects to continue to

Future R&D activities, customer orientation,

deliver double-digit revenue growth in the

acquisitions of companies and development

coming years.

of new areas are not only being intensified

become an even more customer-oriented

and expanded in order to promote DBI’s

Recent years’ growth is also related to increasing demand for DBI’s traditional ser­vices,

business. DBI is a GTS institute, so that the

in line with society’s general development.

knowledge developed by DBI must ensure a

There is also a tradition of awareness of

high level of fire safety and security in the

new areas in which DBI’s knowledge can

future, for the benefit of Danish society. This

also be used. As a consequence, today DBI

is the focal point of all of DBI’s work, now

develops digital services and also includes

and in the future. Knowledge is good, but as

the investigation area. DBI will continue this

a GTS institute DBI’s aim is not only to create

tradition in the future, and if the opportunity

knowledge, since this knowledge must also be

arises, DBI will also acquire companies

used – for the benefit of the Danish business

within the range of fire and security. DBI’s

community and society.

73


DBI specialises in fire safety and theft

DBI is one of Denmark’s GTS institutes

OUR EXPERTISE INCLUDES:

protection and its mission is to protect

(approved technological service provider),

• Consultancy on fire safety and security

lives and assets. With more than 100

tasked with supporting growth and innovation

• Preventive fire safety inspections

years’ practical experience and the latest

in Danish companies and ensuring knowledge

• Fire testing and certification

theoretical knowledge, DBI develops the

dissemination to the business community.

• Research and development

best security solutions to create value for

This includes serving as the link between the

• Fire investigations

companies, institutions and authorities.

research environment and business and industry,

• Corporate investigations

We also have extensive course activities,

and by involving new international knowledge.

• Courses and training

offering courses and training within fire

DBI employs around 200 highly-qualified

• Fire safety publications

safety and security.

professionals at offices in Hvidovre, Fredericia, Aarhus, Frederikshavn and Oslo.

788793 103733 103801 99 788793

Read more at: www.dbigroup.dk

More than 100 years of protecting  
More than 100 years of protecting