15 Dec Fire safety: where do we go from here?
There is data for almost everything at EU-level except for residential fires, as such policymakers and consumers have limited information about the hazards, effectively slowing down decision-making on promoting consumer safety. As a consequence, consumers often forget that they are surrounded by fire hazards, meaning they are ill prepared to tackle fires, causing damaged properties, injuries and, in worst case, fatalities.
To limit the threat of fire, innovation is key. We have come a long way since the first flame retardancy techniques were developed in the early 19th century. For example, we understand better how to control the increased flammability of buildings, products and transport vehicles. This allows us to live in better protected housing. Manufactures also play an important role by avoiding product failures and by using flame retardants to comply with fire safety standards. To this end, brominated flame retardants have been shown to outperform any alternatives in terms of product performance, applicability and costs.
However, actions by manufacturers need to be complemented by considerations to the need of the users of because the most vulnerable people (young, elderly or people with disabilities) have different needs such as longer evacuation times. In other words, a tailored approach to design and material use is crucial to saving lives. To complicate matters further, we also need to consider “fire engineering” which examine a wide range of aspects such as building design, placement of emergency exists and material use.
While we can never eliminate the threat from fire completely, we can continue to reduce the risk through all available approaches. It is remains important to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and authorities to establish a set of clear regulations that protect humans from fires. As noted by professor Löfstedt, this should be supported by targeted risk communication management enhancing the public understanding of actual risks.
For more information on the issue visit BSEF’s website here.