15 Dec Let’s save lives – addressing fire safety in the EU’s General Product Safety Regulation
Finally! The EU is revising the General Product Safety Directive offering a crucial opportunity to reduce the 5000 plus deaths caused by dwelling fires in Europe and minimise the estimated 77 billion euro cost associated with injuries and premature deaths every year. Speaking at the 2021 European Fire Safety Week, BSEF’s Board Director, K. Kannah, and Head of Public Affairs and Advocacy, Patrick Fox used the opportunity to address the issue.
A crucial time to protect EU citizens from dwelling fires
Since 2001, the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) has been the safety net which ensures non-food consumer products placed in the EU are safe. 20 years later the Directive is facing an overhaul that includes turning it into a Regulation. This provides a unique opportunity to include the flammability hazard, ensuring that the new regulation will mitigate existing shortcomings and is future proof by responding to anticipated consumer demands.
Fire safety is a priority issue that needs to be addressed due to the increasing number of fire hazards in European houses caused by the growing use of flammable materials. At the Fire Safety Week, K. Kannah, emphasised that particularly upholstered furniture is “the major fire hazard in homes”, contributing “to a large share of the fatalities in house fires”.
Let’s take the first European step to prevent fire from consumer products
Ireland currently has higher fire safety standards than the rest of the EU, resulting in half the number of causalities, showing that there are effective solutions that save lives. The current proposal for the GPSR is an opportunity to improve the level of fire safety on many consumer products.
This was underlined by, Patrick Fox, emphasizing that “proliferation of consumer goods in our homes has made the issue of fire safety of everyday products more important than ever”. Nevertheless, fire safety has become less visible on the policy agenda and amongst consumers, causing an increase in the risk of major incidents with citizens being poorly prepared, increasing the likelihood of injuries and in worst case casualties. He also noted that ‘’including fire safety in the GPSR would be an important reminder to manufacturers and market surveillance authorities for the need to ensure compliance with this aspect of product safety”.
Flame retardants is an important layer of fire safety for furniture, stopping ignition and slowing down the progress of fires. BFRs remain superior when it comes to protecting citizens from fire. The flame retardants prove their worth every day by ensuring a high degree of product performance, reasonable costs, and ability to be used on all commercial fabrics.
Increased fire safety supports a circular economy
On a fundamental level, flame retardants assist in preventing the destruction of property by fire, thereby enabling material value retention. In prolonging the life span of products flame retardants are a key tool in contributing to a circular economy.
Professor Horrocks from the University of Bolton, has previously provided important insights into the discussion on how brominated flame retardants are part of an environmentally sustainable and safe future. In particular, he said that “Brominated flame retardants have been accused of being particularly environmental unsustainable, which is unfair. As Dr Gribble mentioned in his interview bromine is an element essential for life and this is illustrated by more than 2000 naturally occurring brominated species have been identified with biodegradable properties showing that materials revert back to non-toxic and simple compounds”.
Discover and learn more about how brominated flame retardants improve consumer safety by preventing fire here