Did you know that smoke is the biggest killer in a fire? According to the “fire statistics for Great Britain 2011-2012: being overcome by gas”, smoke or toxic fumes was partly or wholly the cause of death in over half (53%) of all fire fatalities.
Inhalation of smoke is the leading cause of fire fatalities and a major contributor to fire-related injuries. Yet fire smoke toxicity is not considered in the European regulatory framework for buildings.

However, methods exist to measure the toxicity of smoke from burning construction materials: One which could easily include is an EU testing and classification system for smoke toxicity of construction products in the Construction Products Regulation (CPR), which so far only addresses smoke opacity.

But isn’t all smoke toxic?

Yes! But whether it will be a hazard depends on how much of it is in the air that you breathe. Every combustion reaction produces smoke that is toxic, and insufficiently high concentrations may present hazardous conditions to exposed humans. The type of material, including additives used in the product, needs to be considered, but in addition and more importantly, design and end-use application cannot be ignored. When it comes to fire safety, a proper risk assessment must be undertaken on the final end-use application to ensure people safety and minimise the risk of fire hazard.

To fill the gap between performance and safety, regulations, standards and/or guidelines also need to address properly smoke toxicity. It should also mean that smoke hazard would be part of the building classification.

Fire Safe Europe (FSEU) believes that we must have a European system for testing and classifying the toxicity of smoke from construction products to improve people’s fire safety in buildings. The biggest killer has to be addressed.

This is why Fire Safe Europe (FSEU) has developed two key technical documents: a proposal (upload in publication new document provided by SDK) for a classification system for smoke toxicity and a review of existing test methods (upload in publication new document by SDK).

To participate in this work, join the Smoke Toxicity Advisory Panel of the European Fire Safety Community.

  • Publications
  • Smoke Toxicity

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