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Protecting residents from fire

Our industry places a premium on safe and sustainable construction. The Modern Building Alliance explains why a holistic, data-driven, and performance-driven approach is critical for advancing fire safety and how it aims to inspire improvements in fire safety practices throughout Europe.

As such, we are committed to collaborating with regulators, public authorities, and fire safety professionals to improve building fire safety.

Enforcing the legal framework in place

Building fire safety is complex and requires a holistic approach that addresses both preventative and constructive fire protection.

The seven layers of fire protection in buildings

The seven layers of fire safety in buildings encompass all factors that should be considered when ensuring fire safety in buildings.

Preventative fire protection is concerned with avoiding fires, whereas constructive fire protection is concerned with the fire performance of building materials and system solutions.

As a result, fire-safe buildings require the use of approved construction materials and products that are responsibly installed and maintained in accordance with all applicable regulations. At the EU level, a rigorous and harmonised testing framework is in place to ensure that national authorities establish market-specific requirements for construction products. Because plastics, like many other organic materials commonly used in construction (timber, wood fiber, cellulose, composites, etc. ), are combustible, they comply with fire safety regulations. They are safe to use in their intended building applications, as demonstrated, following extensive performance-based testing.

Buildings that are fire-safe require construction materials and products that are responsibly approved, installed, and maintained.

The European Commission asserts that there is no evidence that the current framework is ineffective, even in environments where modern materials are more prevalent. To learn more about fire statistics, click here.

The B.I.O. framework (for Building, Installation, and Organizational Requirements) proposes a comprehensive and structured list of elements that EU member states should consider when developing their regulatory approach for fire-safe buildings. This framework is consistent with the EU’s subsidiarity principle and was presented during one of the Fire Information Exchange Platform’s initial meetings at the European Commission.

Fire disasters have demonstrated the critical importance of adhering to existing regulations and manufacturer’s instructions, as well as the importance of having national competent authorities to ensure that laws are followed.

Including the appropriate fire safety knowledge and competencies at all stages of a building’s life

Assuring the fire safety of buildings is a complex issue that requires the involvement of competent professionals with defined roles and responsibilities during the design, construction, and maintenance phases of the buildings. The Modern Building Alliance commits to further developing fire safety knowledge and competencies as a necessary component of sustainable building stock transformations. Additionally, the Modern Building Alliance advocates for the identification and correction of potential fire safety failures in existing buildings through routine building inspections. Discover more about the advancements required to enhance fire safety competencies.

At a construction site, male engineers with blueprints and a clipboard discuss paperwork – fire safety

Buildings that are fire-safe require construction materials and products that have been approved, installed, and maintained responsibly.

Why are plastics required in construction?

Plastics have a plethora of advantages in their application. Plastics are efficient, durable, weather-resistant, low-maintenance, cost-effective, incredibly light, and incredibly versatile in terms of design. These characteristics make them ideal for construction and a critical component of the transition to a low-carbon economy, increasing building energy efficiency, meeting international climate goals, and adhering to European Building Directives.

Did you know that plastic insulation saves more than 200 times the energy required to manufacture it over its lifetime? Plastic insulation materials have excellent performance/weight and performance/volume ratios, which means they require less material in terms of weight and volume to achieve the desired insulation performance, resulting in resource and transportation savings.

Discover more about the environmental stewardship of plastics.

Plastics are widely used in construction due to their numerous benefits. Because they, like a variety of other organic construction materials (timber, wool…), are combustible, our industry takes fire safety extremely seriously and strives to promote a holistic, performance-based, and material-neutral approach to ensuring fire safety in buildings.

Plastics are used in construction because they are lightweight.

Collecting more comprehensive and consistent data will aid in the implementation of policy.

Throughout Europe, fire safety statistics are compiled in a variety of ways.

National fire statistics currently available do not provide a comprehensive picture of fire fatalities or incidents by country, but they do provide useful indicators of pertinent fire safety concerns for each country.

At the moment, there is no uniform methodology for collecting and analyzing data on fire and fire safety across Europe. As a result, the EU lacks common data on the subject. The extent to which fire casualties and sources can be fully analyzed requires the use of widely available, reliable data.

The Modern Building Alliance advocates for the creation of a database of fire safety statistics to be included in Eurostat’s mandatory program. A positive first step is currently underway with the European Parliament-funded Pilot project on fire cause data collection.

There is room for improvement by implementing simple and readily available solutions.

To our knowledge, fewer than half of the EU’s Member States (for more information) have made smoke detectors mandatory in buildings. Smoke alarms provide critical early warning of a fire, giving evacuees additional time. According to Swedish fire statistics, two-thirds of fatal fires occurred in homes without or malfunctioning smoke alarms between 2000 and 2004.

As statistics demonstrate, prevention is critical.

The importance of training and public awareness should be quantified by public authorities. It is critical to improve communication about the value of detectors, the importance of their maintenance, how to behave in the event of a fire, and how to respond to alarms. This is easily remedied through robust EU-wide communication campaigns. European Fire Safety Week provides an excellent opportunity to inspire similar national, regional, local, and community efforts.

A Programme of Action for Europe

The European Fire Safety Alliance (EuroFSA), an independent network of fire professionals (firefighters, academics, researchers, and the Dutch Burn Foundation), recently released a ‘Action Plan of ten actions’ to improve fire safety throughout Europe. The Modern Building Alliance fully supports EuroFSA’s commitment and works with a diverse range of other stakeholders to support its activities.