EU launches fire safety campaign

EU launches fire safety campaign

THE EUROPEAN Union initiative comes after the Grenfell Tower fire, and alongside a fire safety debate to take place next month.

The Parliament Magazine reported on the campaign, which was launched across the EU to ‘help raise the profile of fire safety in buildings’, and which will coincide with the aforementioned debate at the European parliament in Strasbourg in September. This will see MEPs discuss ‘for the first time’ fire safety at a meeting ‘where both council and European Commission representatives will also speak’.

Fire Safe Europe, a European alliance ‘which aims to raise the profile of fire safety in buildings’, has in turned asked MEPs and others to sign a fire safety petition, which has been sent to all EU institutions. It is asking the EU to make changes ‘to ensure that tests to evaluate the performance of facades in a fire are based on real-life situations where fires can be large scale’, alongside ‘asking policymakers to introduce requirements to test the toxic smoke from construction products’.

Further to this, it asked to ‘label those products with their results so that builders and consumers can make informed choices’, alongside campaigning for development of a European fire safety strategy. A campaign spokesperson stated: ‘This is our chance to ask for fire safety in buildings to be improved for the benefit of all citizens. We are asking people to sign the petition and help us make our buildings safer for all.

‘Building fires affect people. There are at least 5,000 fire incidents each day in the EU. Each year in Europe, approximately 70,000 people are admitted to hospitals with severe fire‐related injuries. Worldwide, children make up 30 per cent of injuries and fatalities caused by fire. Firefighters are especially heavily impacted.

‘But building fires also affect the environment. Fires cause massive amounts of air pollution. They deplete materials and increase carbon emissions, a major challenge for sustainable resource management. Building fires have a cost, of course, and it is estimated that €126bn is eaten up by fire damage each year. For European countries, it is one per cent of their GDP. Fire can lead to major infrastructure, data and stock loss, less productivity, staff unemployment, and even bankruptcy.’

EU ombudswoman Emily O'Reilly noted in turn that ‘lessons should be drawn’ from Grenfell Tower, adding: ‘The tragedy of the fire at the Grenfell tower block in London showed clearly what people most want in their lives and also showed what happens when governments fail truly to look after their needs or leave it to the market to decide even matters as vital as fire prevention.

‘People want control, they want agency. They want to be treated as they are entitled to be treated, as the primary focus of the work of the state and of its administration. They want to be treated as citizens, not customers.’