2nd International Fire Information Conference
The experience of a librarian involved in the development of the software ELID
Presentation of ANPI – NVBB
I'll shortly present ANPI, the Belgian national association for protection against fire and intrusion, so you can better understand why and how we were involved in the project ELID.
If ANPI was created in the latest fifties, the important date for the fire
protection in Belgium was 22 May 1967. On this day a terrific fire in a department store
in the centre of Brussels claimed the live of more that 250 people. Immediately after this
disaster, our national authorities have taken action to improve the fire safety in the
country. Our Home office and the Minister of safety and health at work were engaged in new
regulations. Since this date, ANPI was officially recognised and involved with other
experts in the development of new national – today federal- legislation's and became an
active partner in the development of new standards.
Through the action of all her departments – the fire school, the information department, the library, the laboratories and the inspection department - ANPI has contact with most of the people engaged in fire prevention and fire protection: the insurers of course, the fire brigades, the risk managers of the private and public sector, and most of the professional fitters and suppliers.
ANPI often plays a role of focal point. Our advice and hints published in
dossiers or articles are often recognised as a code of practice, even if ANPI doesn't
publish official requirements.
Fire brigades from all the country often recommend an ANPI publication written in 1996 by Jan Peelaerts, a fire officer, to risk managers who have to produce an intervention document. Today, there is till not yet an official document providing a standard content and form for intervention dossier.
As a consequence, when CEGEKA prepared an electronic intervention map and brought it on the market, the fire brigades suggested them to contact ANPI.
CEGEKA / SEAS / ELID
CEGEKA is a software company located in Hasselt, providing access to a platform with different software, SEAS, an online system for the total management of hazardous products (inventory, labels, and data sheets…). SEAS's software and data are stored on the central computer of CEGEKA in Hasselt.
ELID is a module depending from SEAS, providing a fire intervention dossier in a
standard form and using electronic exchange format.
ELID is a Dutch acronym that means electronic intervention dossier.
It exists mainly into two parts:
- A text module allows the user to enter the relevant company information by filling out 50 windows. It is working as a word processor.
- With the map module, you can adapt your maps and locations plans with the necessary pictograms. You generate for example: a location map, the intervention map, schema of the water distribution piping or an escape plan.
You also can link complementary information from the other SEAS modules such as MSDS.
Thanks to ELID, you can easily load your intervention dossier on SEAS where it is
stored. You are able to modify and update the company intervention dossier and deliver
these changes electronically to the fire brigade in accordance with fire service
In case of emergency, the intervention officer will be able to consult the "latest and upgrade" version.
CEGEKA asked two things to ANPI:
- Our assistance to introduce ELID to the fire brigades and to impose ELID as a "unofficial" standard to the fire brigades and industries.
- To commercialise ELID
Of course ANPI only suggests the use of commercial product, but in this case, we consider electronic exchange of documents as a asset for the future. Our concern was not only exchange of intervention dossiers, we saw in this product further development with exchange between fire brigades, prevention officers, risk managers, insurers and fire inspection bodies.
ASSESSMENT OF ELID
ANPI leaves the assessment of ELID and subsequently of SEAS to an experienced fire instructor and to the librarian.
Here are the main criteria of this assessment:
- Is the software easy to use? How are the data collected, loaded and updated?
- Depending form this criteria, the language. ELID was developed in Dutch and later translated in French and in English.
- Linked to the quality of the language, the quality of the terminology.
- Benefits and advantages:
- What are the benefits for the user (for those who have to pay)
- We had to define the potential customer.
- Potentiality to upgrade the software and the ability to create new outputs.
- And finally the price of the software (the subscription) and the cost of the online connection.
The analysis was conducted in French and in Dutch.
After this report, we have firmly required some modifications:
- Creation of new chapters concerning escape and concerning the storage and production of hazardous products (other than MSDS)
- Creation of "pop up" giving complementary explanation about the contents of each field.
Development of the new concept ELID
CEGEKA finally choose to develop a complete new concept following the requirement
and suggestion of ANPI.
In the same time CEGEKA continues the commercialisation of the first version of ELID.
Together or alone, we organise meetings, brainstorming, official or unofficial discussions with the fire brigades, intervention and prevention officers, potential customers and suppliers.
The relational and structural Database
A working group was created with people from CEGEKA, mainly the original concept designer of ELID, and the two former assessors from ANPI. We try to bring our experiences and knowledge of the fire protection practice. For my concern, a theoretical knowledge of the private rules, legislation, standards and the experience coming from the assistance to the public and the management of the database. For my colleague, his large practical experience into industrial fire protection training.
The trademark ELID stays unchanged but the acronym means now "electronic fire information file".
We suggest that the data already collected for the intervention dossier can be
more efficiently used if treated in a database.
So we decide to give up the former structure of SEAS ELID in favour of a structural and relation database.
The new ELID will collect data about the enterprise, the activity and the organisation of the company, about the buildings at different levels (area, buildings, sectors, fire compartments and rooms) and about people and contacts (suppliers, fitters, inspection bodies, fire brigades…). The objectives of new ELID can be definite as an electronic assistant for the management of fire protection useful for private and public enterprises.
We redefine all the fields and chapters, adding 3 new chapters:
- Hazardous activities and
- Fire protection training.
All our attention was given to the contents and to the links between the data instead of the form. Forms and reports will be treated later.
We imagine different levels of relations or connections:
- Links between the data's inside ELID
example: links between an equipment and the supplier
- Links to an extern calculator running with ELID
example: links to an agenda (a calculator sending alert messages when it is time to proceed to an inspection, a control, a maintenance or a training)
- Links with extern calculator without connection with ELID
- Example: A lot of data available on ELID are used by most of the fire risk
We contacted the developer of the fire risk evaluation method FRAME (acronym for Fire Risk Assessment Method). Erik DESMET agrees to the idea. Some data will be downloaded from ELID and, treated by the calculator FRAME. After the treatment, the data are loaded back and the contents of the fields eventually adapted.
- Example: A lot of data available on ELID are used by most of the fire risk evaluation methods.
- Connection with information sources:
- Some fields are connected to web sites where the user can find more information
- Example: Each field "obligation" will provide a link to the "Memento of the Belgian regulation" on the web site of ANPI. The complexity of the Belgian legislation makes impossible to provide the full text.
- Some fields are connected to web sites where the user can find more information
- Sometimes, we will only provide bibliographical references of books or standards or even addresses of experts.
- Example: where to find a list of the fire loads? We will give the reference of the "Methode d'évaluation des risques SIA".
- And finally links to checklist or log books.
We recommended some pages of the Logbook published by the FPA.
As a consequence of the economical crisis, CEGEKA has temporarily stopped his engagement into the development of the new ELID. Today, Leon Rousseau the original designer of ELID has taken this task over but is actually looking for new sponsors.
ANPI doesn't want engage herself as a provider but stay open to the different intervenes.
Personally, I put a lot of energy into the project, giving all my attention to the contents (to avoid future SOS or too much requirements for assistance arriving at my desk!). I also was very attentive to the structure of the database, not only to the definitions of the fields and links but also to the structure of the chapters and to the order of the fields into the chapters (I was afraid to forget some subjects).
I confess that I was very surprised even dubitative when I was designed by our
direction to assess ELID. A librarian is not a fire officer, is not a fire engineer
and surely not software specialist.
I asked to the participants of the team to explain the role of a librarian in such a project.
A librarian can bring a new vision, a large overview of the problem. She is by essence multidisciplinar.
Multimedia and Internet user
And finally, the experience coming from the development of ANPI's bibliographic databases and practice of the multimedia supports and Internet.
I ask the same question to the designer of ELID.
The advantages are mainly the immediate input of available information and data. The team can faster reject suggestions for which few or no background's information was available.
The librarian was also a guide into the contacts outside ANPI.
A librarian is probably much more attentive to the structure of the database and on another level, is able to relate in easier words some concept of the fire protection theory and practice.
On the same hand, my colleague fire instructor appreciates the explanations concerning computer terminology and software. Librarians are teachers.
But most of all, librarians save time!
Following Paul, librarians are guide who assist people into the complexity of available information, legislation, standards and private regulations, who can explain in two words the contents of articles or books.
It looks to the definition of our daily job, isn't it?
For my concern, it was a nice and enriched experience, almost during the development and the definition of the new ELID. I appreciate the contacts with other professions, the unique opportunity to prove the value of our knowledge and practice to people who are not usually confront with libraries.
Some tells us that today everybody can find information on the net. That
libraries will disappear and librarian too. Of course the media are changing, people wants
no bibliographies anymore, and asks for a direct access to the data.
Librarians are still indispensable for their knowledge of the information world, for the application of structures and procedures learned from our daily management of libraries or information centre. It seem our presence is an asset for those we want to create new kind of media and support.