Innovation in fire safety is rapidly advancing. New technologies and approaches are being developed to design buildings safer and smarter in order to detect and respond to fires quickly and efficiently. However, more support is needed from the European Union to exploit to support innovation in the sector of fire safety, especially in the field of digital construction and Fire Safety Engineering.
Fire Safety Engineering in regulatory approaches
Traditionally, in Europe, regulations on building fire safety have been largely prescriptive. This approach is based on passive fire protection measures using methods of non-combustibility, fire compartmentation, and structural fire protection. Wherever applicable and practical, this basic approach has been complemented by active fire protection to further enhance the achieved safety levels.
In comparison, Fire Safety Engineering (FSE) is a relatively new way in which fire protection measures can be calculated, using performance-based methods and a probabilistic approach rather than prescriptive data tables and/or simplified methods. Used correctly it has the potential to erase the difference in fire safety levels between national building regulations.
A sign of this evolution is that the European Commission’s Fire Information Exchange Platform (FIEP) has identified Fire Safety Engineering as one of the workstreams for the platform. Fire Safe Europe follows political and standardisation activities linked to Fire Safety Engineering to make sure that the European Union supports Research and Development activities in this domain while at the same time contributing to more harmonisation of terminologies and competences across Member States.
Digital solutions in construction have great potential to increase productivity, reduce construction costs, alleviate burdensome and physical tasks, improve the data collection and analysis of energy efficiency performances, and lower life-cycle costs of buildings.
Digitalisation is the present and the future of the EU construction sector. Integrating digital fire safety in smart buildings will offer new opportunities for accelerating the green transition and increasing the fire performance of European buildings. Digitising fire safety working methods and integration into Building Information Modelling (BIM)process creates conditions for greater participation and better communication between all actors in a project, collaboration that leads directly to increased quality and efficiency – a must for both profitability and sustainability development of the construction sector.
Fire Safe Europe advocates for better inclusion of fire safety aspects into current and future digital tools, influences EU funding on R&D, as well as facilitates the exchange of best practices around this crucial topic.