Progress of the Fire Information Exchange Platform: only a more active contribution from Member States will make it successful

On 27 February, the Fire Information Exchange Platform (FIEP) met for a plenary meeting to present progress since its establishment in October 2017.

During the meeting, the European Commission called on Member States to actively contribute to the platform. The Modern Building Alliance, which is also a member of this FIEP, fully supports this call, as exchange of information on fire safety is crucial to understand the impacts of regulatory choices and improve fire safety for European citizens.

Out of the five priorities identified in 2017, three dedicated project teams presented their progress. While lots of information was exchanged on fire prevention, the European Commission identified a lack of input from Member States on the other two priorities namely lessons learned from fire accidents and regulatory approach for new products and high-rise buildings. In June 2018, the Modern Building Alliance proposed a framework for structuring the exchange of information on the necessary regulatory approach for high rise buildings and we invited again the FIEP to consider using it. With regard to the fourth work stream on fire statistics, the European Commission announced that it will benefit from the pilot project on fire safety statistics voted by the European Parliament last September. This will help complement the pioneering work already done by the European Fire Safety Alliance in gathering EU-wide data. Finally, the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) announced that the last work stream on fire safety engineering will be led by its own Joint Research Centre, showing an interest from the European Commission to have a more horizontal approach to fire safety.

This meeting was also the opportunity to report on the progress of a possible harmonised European approach to regulating the fire performance of façades following the publication of the European Commission’s study last September. While many Member States have expressed a preference for the ‘alternative’ approach on the long term, proposing a new testing and classification method, we encourage the Commission to organise additional and dedicated discussions with Member States and stakeholders to further clarify short and middle-term solutions. We believe that the “proposed approach” – relying on existing testing methods – is most able to deliver quick and impactful results. You can find additional information on our position here.

We would like to also congratulate Estonia and Sweden who shared additional information on their recent successful initiatives on fire safety, demonstrating the large potential for improvements thanks to well-targeted prevention measures focusing on the benefits of smoke detectors, the risk of smoking and open fires, and the danger of obstructing escape routes.

Finally, the Commission presented the outcome of a questionnaire sent to all Member States and to which 17 of them responded. The results showed that national fire safety regulations are constantly being revised to consider developments and take stock of learnings, which shows the benefits of sharing information within the FIEP.

Commenting on this meeting MBA Executive Chair Quentin de Hults said “The FIEP is now fully setup and we welcome the initial progress. Several Member States are sharing very relevant information particularly on their successful prevention efforts, we encourage all of them to actively contribute to the different work streams. As representative of the plastic industry in the construction sector, we are committed to supporting the FIEP in making Europe’s buildings safer and more sustainable”.

To learn more about the FIEP and its goals, please see our dedicated page here.