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New online community to inspire building fire safety
By Pauline Pelous
May 04, 2020

A dynamic new digital community is bringing together fire experts and policy makers to share insight and information as well as inspire improved building fire safety in Europe.

Since its official launch in November, the European Fire Safety Community (EFSC) has attracted more than 260 individual members, ranging from firefighters, fire engineers, non-governmental organisations and researchers to policymakers, architects, association members and fire specialists.

The community was created as an extension of Fire Safe Europe — a campaigning organisation that is supported by Knauf Insulation.

Community Manager Sarah Debbiche Krichen said: “We want the Community to be open to as many stakeholders as possible and to be a platform where members can keep up to date with the latest policy news as well as collaborate and exchange information about fire safety.

“Our aim is to have a vast, varied and active community of members from across Europe (and the rest of the world) working together to develop ideas, deliver concrete projects, help members in their daily work and facilitate the policies that make Europe’s buildings fire safe.”

Helping firefighters to do their job safely

A key area of the new community’s focus is the collation, collection and sharing of fire safety data from across Europe to help firefighters — among others — assess critical situations better, make improved decisions and ultimately do their job safely and more effectively.

Community Manager Jéromine Andolfatto said: “In Europe there is no common terminology, methodology or understanding of what fire safety data is available. Today is International Firefighters’ Day and this is the ideal opportunity to highlight why this data collection is critical. Firefighters need as much input from as many sources as possible to better understand how to intervene in a building.”

On the community platform, an advisory panel examines the latest fire data news, shares best practice and aims to support a European Commission tender which is designed to ‘close data gaps in pan-European fire safety efforts’ and ‘allow knowledge-based decisions on fire safety regarding building fires’.

Firefighters account for 8% of EFSC participants and to mark the international day, the community has also been promoting firefighter initiatives such as safety training to increase safety for fire fighters in Belgium or programmes to encourage more women to become involved in the male-dominated world of fire safety.

Collecting expertise to provide data insights

In addition, the community has produced webinars and podcasts on topics of interest for firefighters such as big data fire research from the Netherlands and information from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) which shares standardised fire incident reports from across North America.

“Ultimately we are not collecting this data but we are collecting the experts that can provide data insights,” says Sarah. “We have a very diverse membership and aim to provide a more diverse and holistic approach to fire safety as a result.”

Two other advisory panels have also been set up to focus on building façade safety and the role of fire safety in sustainable building. However, the community invites input on a wide variety of topics and recent contributions have ranged from fire safety discussions on photovoltaic panels to lithium batteries.

“Ultimately this is the ideal platform to give fire safety stakeholders an overview of different approaches across Europe so that they can share this data with a wider public, particularly policy makers,” says Jéromine.

Knauf Insulation has consistently campaigned to put fire safety at the heart of buildings and produces a wide range of A1 and A2 fire-safe solutions for all building applications including Rock Mineral Wool and Glass Mineral Wool rolls and slabs, Heraklith boards and panels, insulation for HVAC systems, safety doors and garage panels.