Members of the European Parliament stand up to advance fire safety in Europe

Members of the European Parliament stand up to advance fire safety in Europe

21 June 2018

Yesterday, a group of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) submitted a very promising pilot project proposal on fire safety to the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). This project tabled as an amendment for the EU budget 2019 aims to mend the data gaps on fire statistics and to pave the way for a pan-European fire safety awareness campaign. The Modern Building Alliance fully supports this initiative, which will give the EU and national governments the opportunity to better identify the most effective fire safety measures.

Led by Danish MEP Bendt Bendtsen from the European People’s Party (EPP) and supported by 23 other MEPs across most political groups (from EPP, S&D, ECR, ALDE and the greens), the proposal would fund an EU-wide analysis and assessment of available fire safety statistics and result in two important sets of recommendations.

Firstly, the pilot project would allow to identify possible European actions to support enhanced data collection and streamlining in statistics on fire casualties, fire safety and fire prevention.

“Data on fire casualties and fire safety is widely fragmented across Europe. The pilot project should map and fix the data gaps and pave the way for improved fire safety awareness and fire prevention in Member States” explained Bendt Bendtsen. He added “Thankfully the rate of fire fatalities is dropping in Europe for the past decades. We would like to keep that trend going, and to help our national governments in their fire prevention efforts.” Quentin de Hults, Executive Chair of the Modern Building Alliance agreed: “Fire safety is a joint responsibility but understanding the key risk factors is essential to identify effective actions”. To learn more about fire safety statistics in Europe, check out our dedicated page on this website.

Secondly, the pilot project would also recommend EU-level actions to support fire safety and fire prevention efforts of Member States into the domestic environment, turning into a possible pan-European fire safety awareness campaign. Efforts to prevent development and consequences of fires requires building occupants to understand which safety precautions or emergency actions need to be taken. Targeted awareness campaigns can ensure that all occupants are familiar with the appropriate behaviour to prevent fire and their consequences.

Mike Hagen, Chair of the European Fire Safety Alliance (EuroFSA [1]) and professional UK fire officer for over 33 years said, “The European Fire Safety Alliance welcomes the proposal for this project to collect European fire data, which will provide strong evidence of the risk from fire for European citizens and be a powerful force to inform pan-European fire safety efforts.” Chris Addiers, President of FEU, the Federation of EU Fire Officers Associations, added that “the proposal is relevant and timely, as the clear majority of fire-related injuries are preventable through appropriate risk reduction measures.”

The pilot project proposal is also a relevant follow up to the new European Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), just published in the Official Journal of the Union. “The revised buildings directive gives real momentum to the renovation of Europe's buildings, and this will be a golden opportunity to improve fire safety for our European citizens at the same time” said Bendt Bendtsen. Renovation efforts indeed present an added opportunity to further improve fire safety, while this issue remains relevant in a context spanning further than renovations.

The pilot project should also complement and support any initiatives by the newly established Fire Information Exchange Platform (FIEP) by the European Commission, to which the Modern Building Alliance is also contributing.

The ITRE Committee will vote on 10 July. If approved, the proposal will be sent to the Budgets Committee of the European Parliament. The Modern Building Alliance and its members invite all MEPs to support this amendment and this initiative which will strengthen the EU commitment to fire safety and support a breakthrough in fire statistics and prevention.


[1] The European Fire Safety Alliance is a project within the Dutch Burns Foundation to reduce the risk from fire particularly in the home

Additional reading

Download all amendments here.

Fire safety: what can building renovations bring?

Fire safety: what can building renovations bring?

20 June 2018

After 18 months of legislative process, the amended Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EU 2018/844) has been published in the EU Official Journal. Member States now have up to 20 months to transpose it into their national regulations.

The revised EPBD aims to fully leverage the potential contribution of the building sector to the EU’s long-term energy and climate objectives. It requires Member States to strengthen their long-term national renovation strategies to reach a “highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock” by 2050, an objective that the Modern Building Alliance fully supports.

For the first time, fire safety is mentioned in two paragraphs of the EPBD:

Each Member State may use its long-term renovation strategy to address fire safety and risks related to intense seismic activity affecting energy efficiency renovations and the lifetime of buildings. (new article 2a, paragraph 7)

Member States shall encourage, in relation to buildings undergoing major renovation, high-efficiency alternative systems, in so far as this is technically, functionally and economically feasible, and shall address the issues of healthy indoor climate conditions, fire safety and risks related to intense seismic activity. (article 7 paragraph 5)

This reference to fire safety in the legislation is worth noting as it encourages more attention to be put on the area, along with other risks such as seismic activity.


Plans for building renovations with a model house


Fire safety must be considered for all buildings during design, construction, renovation and operation

Like all safety aspects, this is covered by national building codes and a full range of other regulations. The EPBD now highlights that the renovation of a building is also an opportunity to enhance fire safety.

It is well known that old buildings have a poor energy performance, but they may also have obsolete gas and electrical installations and fire safety design. Transformations over the time, like changes in space distribution or addition of electrical equipments, may create higher risk situations.

With regard to electrical safety, new features may represent an increased risk and require a revision of the electrical installation. In the European Union, degraded or faulty electrical appliances make up 20 to 30% of all domestic fires. The majority of these are preventable. Simple precautions, like charging electric vehicles or e-bikes below a smoke detector, can make a difference.

To fully deliver on the objectives outlined in the EPBD, renovations will have to comply with the relevant building regulations and the products will have to meet the performance requirements defined by their specific applications. Ensuring the quality and compliance of renovation works with these rules and with producer guidelines is essential, to meet boththe expected level of safety and of energy performance.

When it comes to fire safety, the Modern Building Alliance encourages Member States to consider the following elements when transposing the directive within their own legislation:

  • The quality of the electrical and gas installation and appliances;
  • The presence of smoke detection mechanisms;
  • The quality of escape routes and compartmentation; and
  • The possibility of sprinklers in high-rise/high-risk buildings or for vulnerable occupants.


Fire safety should and can be improved beyond renovation strategies

Despite this development in the EPBD, legislators should realise that building features and renovation will not be enough to improve fire safety.

Protecting EU citizens, particularly those who are most vulnerable, against fire risks must be considered beyond renovation strategies alone. Therefore, the Modern Building Alliance supports the idea suggested by the European Copper Institute and the Federation for the Safety of Electricity Users (Fisuel) that fire and electrical safety should be part of the social dimension of EU energy policy, and be addressed together with energy poverty.

The most vulnerable people in our society, such as elderly and low-income households, are also less likely to see their housing renovated. The revised EPBD encourages Member States to particularly address energy poverty within their renovation strategies, which is positive as vulnerable people affected by energy poverty and safety poverty are the same. But we cannot rely solely on energy renovation to reduce their energy bills and improve their fire safety situation.

Fire prevention measures should develop faster than the renovation rate of maximum 2 or 3% per year. More emphasis should be placed on increasing prevention measures via public awareness programmes regarding fire risks, fire safety behaviours and basic fire safety features like smoke detectors. The Modern Building Alliance supports the work initiated by the Fire Information Exchange Platform (FIEP) on data and best practices which will also help Member States’ efforts in this regard.

As fire safety must be considered beyond renovation of buildings, we also support the European Fire Safety Alliance (EuroFSA) who is aiming to reduce fire risks at home. As explained by EuroFSA, we also believe that most of the residential fires are preventable and it is often the most vulnerable people that are affected. Significant improvements can be achieved by developing knowledge and raising awareness about this issue.


The Modern Building Alliance hopes that Member States will implement the EPBD in a way that grasps Europe’s energy efficiency potential. We also encourage them to work on fire safety improvements beyond renovation strategies to deliver safe and sustainable buildings for all citizens.

Additional reading

Download the directive here.