The renovation wave must be accompanied by fire safety competencies

The renovation wave must be accompanied by fire safety competencies

8 July 2020

The European Commission is preparing the Renovation Wave (a proposal announced by the Green Deal and expected for September) with the ambition of boosting the renovation rate of the EU building stock.

Its main objectives: to make the most of energy renovations of public and private buildings in order to tackle climate change and energy poverty and to improve the well-being of EU citizens while creating local jobs and relaunching the EU economy. It is also a key component of the post COVID-19 recovery plan.

 The Renovation Wave is an unprecedented opportunity to improve the overall quality of buildings and fire safety must not be overlooked during these efforts.

 In our reply to the recent public consultation, we stressed the importance of not forgetting fire safety and of addressing it in a holistic, performance based and material/solution neutral approach. We encouraged a focus on fire safety skills and competencies as an accompaniment to building renovation.

Ensuring the fire safety of buildings is a complex issue requiring competent professionals with clear roles and responsibilities who are involved during the buildings’ design, construction and maintenance phases.

The involvement of fire safety engineers in building design is not sufficiently common practice; in particular, their work must be incorporated to a greater extent during the sustainable transformation of the building stock. Regular fire safety checks of buildings, including inspections of electrical and fire safety installations, are also necessary and can transform each renovation into an opportunity to improve fire safety.

 The Modern Building Alliance will monitor this important dossier and repeat its recommendations every time it is possible for the EU to play a role in strengthening fire safety competencies in order to ensure safe buildings for European citizens.

 

Fire Safety Competencies included in the European Parliament’s report on Energy Efficient Buildings

Fire Safety Competencies included in the European Parliament's report on Energy Efficient Buildings

7 July 2020

The European Parliament’s ITRE committee has voted on the Own Initiative Report “Maximising the Energy Efficiency Potential of the EU building stock”. The rapporteur Ciaran Cuffe and shadow rapporteurs expressly used this text as an opportunity to include and address features other than strict energy efficiency measures.

We are delighted to see fire safety covered in three paragraphs in this dossier:

- Paragraph 19a: refers to the content of the EPBD regarding seismic and fire safety

- Paragraph 19aa: echoes the 7 layers of fire safety which is great new as it considers fire safety in a holistic way:

“Recalls that fire safety aspects should be considered during the design, selection of materials, construction, renovation and operation of buildings in prevention, detection, early suppression, evacuation, compartmentation, structural resistance and fire-fighting, as well as the relevant competencies of professionals involved during design, construction and renovation;”

- Paragraph 25: This paragraph goes further and refers to [Fire] Safety Competency that also echoes what the Modern Building Alliance advocates in its Call for Action:

“... underlines that ensuring quality, compliance, and safety requires adequate competencies and skills of professionals involved during the design and construction/renovation...”

This vote is a crucial step and a clear signal from the European Parliament to ensure that fire safety is adequately addressed during the renovation of the building stock, with a holistic, performance-based and material-neutral approach that relies on the competencies and skills of professionals. The Modern Building Alliance welcomes this vote and approach.

 

Link to the compromise text voted

We ask for Fire Safety to be included in the BuildUp Skills Initiative

We ask for Fire Safety to be included in the BuildUp Skills Initiative

1 July 2020

The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (EASME) has launched an online public consultation to gather advice from stakeholders on the needs and solutions to increase the number of trained and qualified building professionals across Europe. The Modern Building Alliance has taken advantage of this opportunity to point out once again how important it is for fire safety skills and competencies to accompany building renovation processes and to do so in a holistic way.

The public consultation focused on which qualified building professionals are necessary to deliver high-energy performance building renovations and new nearly zero-energy buildings.

In its answer, the Modern Building Alliance highlighted the importance of including fire safety-related competencies in future eligible fields for financing, which can include for example the involvement of fire safety engineers during building design, or fire and electrical safety experts undertaking regular inspections.

Quentin de Hults says: “We want to bring to the attention of the European Commission that Fire Safety skills are - too often - not sufficiently considered as part of the renovation process. Fire safety is a complex issue with many aspects to be considered, which requires the right skills and competencies. The role of fire safety engineers/experts is not sufficiently recognised. If we want fire safety to accompany the transformation of the building stock, it must start with the right recognition of the skills needed.”

All information

A consortium of experts to work on EU fire safety statistics

A consortium of experts to work on EU fire safety statistics

27 May 2020

The European Commission has selected a consortium of experts for the pilot project “Closing the data gaps and paving the way for pan-European fire safety efforts” that has been initiated in the European Parliament.

The project aims to establish the collection of fire safety data and statistics across the EU and will run for 17 months.

Efectis will lead the consortium, which is composed of the European Fire Safety Alliance (EuroFSA), the IFV (Dutch Fire Service Academy), the CTIF (International Association of Fire and Rescue Services), the NFPA (US National Fire Protection Association), The University of Edinburgh, The University of Lund, the DBI (Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology), the VFDB (German Fire Protection Association) and the BAM (German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing).

Data are essential to identify risk factors and most effective fire prevention measures because EU-wide statistics are currently either not harmonised or do not exist. The conclusions and output of the experts’ work will facilitate a broader accounting of fire incidents and will also give the EU and national governments the opportunity to identify the most effective fire safety measures more accurately.

The Modern Building Alliance calls for the inclusion of fire statistics within the Eurostat mandatory programme and considers this project as an excellent first step.

Full story about the pilot project

 

Fire Safety picked up in Own-Initiative Report on Energy Efficient buildings

Fire Safety picked up in Own-Initiative Report on Energy Efficient buildings

25 May 2020 

As part of the project initiated within the ITRE Committee, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Ciarán Cuffe (Group of the Greens, Ireland) is currently the rapporteur of the “Draft report on maximising the energy efficiency potential of the EU building stock”.

The aim of the report is as follows: it “examines the potential of energy efficiency in buildings, and, in the context of the current crisis suggests that a European renovation wave could assist with an economic recovery by creating local jobs, upskilling workers, and creating resilient communities”.

This Own Initiative Report has been utilised as an opportunity by different political groups to include considerations other than strict energy efficiency aspects. In particular, fire safety appears more than once:

  • There is a proposition by the EPP group to “underline that energy renovation is an opportunity to undertake safety checks (e.g. electrical safety, fire safety features)”. The Modern Building Alliance fully supports this message;
  • Another proposition by the EPP group seeks to “underline that ensuring quality, compliance and (fire) safety requires adequate competencies and skills of professionals involved during design and construction/renovation”, which echoes our Call for Action on fire safety competency;
  • Finally, a number of MEPs from Renew have drafted a proposition to “recall that fire safety aspects should be considered during the design, construction, renovation and operation of buildings” and referred to the 7 layers of fire safety in buildings: “prevention, detection, early suppression, evacuation, compartmentation, structural safety and firefighting”.

The Modern Building Alliance welcomes these constructive amendments that will pave the way for a holistic approach of fire safety and we will continue to engage with MEPs to support the EU in ensuring safe and sustainable construction for citizens.

The text and amendments are due to be put to the vote in July.

Full draft

ITRE - Amendments

 

British standard test method for the fire performance of facades: revision is now published

British standard test method for the fire performance of facades: revision is now published

7 May 2020

The British Standards Institution (BSI) has revised its test method for the fire performance of external cladding systems (BS 8414 Fire performance of external cladding systems).

The purpose of the large-scale façade test method is to provide data that enables the evaluation of the fire performance of the cladding components tested as a system.

The standard is split into two parts:

Large scale tests are regularly applied by our industry as an important aspect to validate the fire safety of façade systems considering the interaction between the different elements. BS 8414 is considered as a reference beyond UK and, together with the German standard DIN 4120-20, is the basis of the ongoing development of a European assessment method.

More information

 

 

Time to create a Renovation Fund for All Europeans

Time to create a Renovation Fund for All Europeans

6 May 2020

Initiated by the Renovate Europe Campaign, a wide range of stakeholders including the Modern Building Alliance, co-signed a letter asking for the creation of a “Renovation fund for all Europeans’.

This letter, sent to President Ursula von der Leyen and Commissioners Timmermans, Simson, Breton and Hahn mentions:

“…the Renovate Europe Campaign, call for the EU Recovery Plan to include a Renovation Fund for All Europeans to ensure that energy renovation of the EU building stock plays a central role in getting the EU back on its feet.

The EU construction industry alone is worth around 9% of EU GDP and employs more than 16 million Europeans. A focus on the deep energy renovation of buildings across the EU will kickstart our economies from the ground up. It will provide large-scale local employment while reinvigorating demand in those industries that supply the construction industry.”

Read the letter

 

A step forward to a European approach for Façades performance assessment

A step forward to a European approach for Façades performance assessment

6 May 2020 

A consortium composed of 5 partners (RISE (SE), BAM (DE), Efectis (FR), EMI (HU) and the University of Liège (BE)) has been chosen by the European Commission to finalise a European Approach to assess the performance of façades. The time span granted for the project is 2 years.

We announced it last September: the European Commission published a call for tender to deliver the “alternative method” to assess the performance of façades. Having a harmonised method for testing façades is important because in the specific case of taller buildings, the performance of façades is a prime element of the building design and therefore, it must be tested as a system and not only as individual components.

A main task of the project is to organise an experimental round robin to assess the repeatability and reproducibility of the proposed method, which will allow the method and classification to be fine-tuned. Ultimately, the European approach for façade performance assessment should be used by the industry to demonstrate the fire performance of their products and systems, and by national regulators to define performance requirements according to the building types.

Members of the Modern Building Alliance have a long experience with façade tests and we will contribute as stakeholder to the project.

 

More information

CALL FOR ACTION

CALL FOR ACTION

- Fire Safety Competency -

 

27 April 2020

 

Ensuring the fire safety of buildings is a complex issue requiring competent professionals with clear roles and responsibilities, who are involved during the buildings’ design, construction and maintenance phases. The Modern Building Alliance believes that developing knowledge and competencies is a necessity, in particular to accompany the sustainable transformation of the building stock.

Achieving net zero carbon and circularity for buildings is an ambition that requires many solutions, such as high-performance insulation, resource efficient materials, renewable energy and energy storage technologies. These innovations can entail not only fire risks but also opportunities. Fire safety must neither lag behind nor impede this evolution. It must accompany it. That’s why we must develop knowledge and competencies related to fire safety. This will enhance a safe energy transition that is in the interest of all, including industries contributing to sustainable construction.

Academics have analysed the need to improve fire safety competency and to involve fire safety expertise better in building design and inspection. They call for improved definition of competencies, enhanced education and accreditation, and the establishment of a legal framework for the involvement of accredited fire safety professionals in building design and inspections.

Find out more

The Modern Building Alliance advocates that the EU should play a central role in supporting these necessary developments. We see 3 parallel strands of work:

 

  1. Define roles, responsibilities and required competencies for accredited fire safety professionals. Compare with current situation and analyse shortcomings

Several elements already exist, such as the International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE) co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union. Well-established research and education already exist on a national basis in some European countries. Fire safety engineers are organised into professional societies such as SFPE or IFE. A detailed map of the current situation and a gap analysis should be carried out. This should be initiated by the European Commission, involving independent academics, representatives from fire services and national regulators.

  1. Identify a way to embed the need for fire safety competency in legislation

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), since its first version in 2002, has required Member States to establish systems of accreditation of independent experts for the energy performance certification of buildings and for the inspection of heating and air conditioning installations. Nowadays, you must involve an accredited energy expert in any building design, but in many cases you don’t have to involve a fire safety expert. You need to check the energy performance of heating systems regularly, but in several countries you don’t have to check the safety of electrical installations or the performance of fire safety features regularly. Since 2018, the EPBD has asked Member States to address fire safety (and risks related to intense seismic activity). A future revision could require, more specifically, the involvement of accredited fire safety designers and regular fire safety and electrical safety inspections.

  1. Develop knowledge and education at national and EU levels

Various different programmes of the EU, such as Horizon Europe or Erasmus+, can be used to develop knowledge, research and education further in fire safety. Horizon Europe can ensure that there is sufficient investment in the development of fire safety science and engineering. We already called for this, with a wide range of stakeholders, in June 2019. Erasmus+ can ensure the development of the necessary education programmes in Europe.

 

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Save the Date: EuroFSA’ Action Plan to be launched

Save the Date: EuroFSA' Action Plan to be launched

14 February 2020

Today, the European Fire Safety Alliance communicates about the official launch of their Action Plan for Fire Safety.

SAVE THE DATE! On the 25th March, EuroFSA will organise a breakfast event in the European Parliament to present and discuss the next steps to increase fire safety across the EU.

This event is hosted by the Danish Member of the European Parliament,  Pernille Weiss from EPP.

EuroFSA will present 10 points of actions resulting of the conclusions of every events held during the European Fire Safety Week last November.

More info