October 18, 2017
The European Commission, with the support of the Estonian presidency of the Council, held the first meeting of the Fire Information Exchange Platform (FIEP) in Brussels on October 16. 25 Member States and 25 associations came to discuss key challenges for fire safety in buildings. The Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Slovakia, a pioneer of collaboration between member states on this topic, presented the conclusions of a 2016 roundtable.
Member States shared main concerns, regulatory needs and expectations from the new platform, such as the need for data on fires to better understand and address the problem. The European Commission updated participants on their work regarding fire safety of buildings and fire performance of products.
The Commission also gave an overview of the current studies led by DG GROW: the study regarding the need to regulate toxicity of smoke produced by construction products in fire and the study on the development of a European approach to assess the fire performance of façades.The BRE presented the conclusions on the smoke study, informing participants that the report would soon be released.
Fire Safe Europe (FSEU) gave a presentation on regulatory challenges regarding fire safety in buildings. “We believe that we can overcome regulatory challenges with an EU fire safety strategy. The EU has already done so for road safety, which is also a Member State competence. In 2001 a strategy was put in place which lead to great reductions in the number of deaths” says Juliette Albiac, Managing Director of FSEU. Together with 15 partner organisations, FSEU envisages a fire safety strategy based on a holistic approach to fire safety, aimed at gathering comparable data, cooperation between the Member States, and setting a vision with clear goals for fire safety. The United Kingdom and Italy also spoke on regulatory challenges, together with several organisations: the Forum for European Electrical Safety (FEEDS), the European Association for ETICS (EAE), the Federation of the European Union Fire Officers Associations (FEU), the European Firefighters Unions Alliance (EFFUA), Euralarm, Construction Products Europe (CPE) and PU Europe.
FSEU also presented a study on the urgent topic of fire safety in high rise buildings. The FSEU study compares legislation in different Member States and highlights why high rise is a key priority. Both presentations can be downloaded on the FSEU website.
Another hot topic was the Eurocodes standards and the use of fire safety engineering principles, on which the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) gave an update. FSEU believes that although Fire Safety Engineering presents great opportunities, especially for non-typical buildings, this approach presents risks if it is abused: the success or otherwise of FSE depends very much on how it is applied, and it is thus crucial to use caution and make sure that it is applied by competent designers.
Concluding the meeting, the European Commission identified five main workstreams for the new platform going forward:
- Fire prevention
- Lessons learned
- New products
- Fire Safety Engineering
Another point which was raised as a possible work stream, and which the European Commission may consider, is the issue of domestic fires.
FSEU expects the platform will lead to significant progress in these areas, making buildings safer for people throughout Europe.
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