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10 JUL. 2018

Global organisations unite to solve fire safety in buildings

RICS has joined more than 30 organisations from around the world to develop landmark industry standards to address fire safety in buildings.

The group, known as the International Fire Safety Standards (IFSS) Coalition, was launched at the United Nations in Geneva this week.

The coalition

The coalition consists of local and international professional bodies and standard-setting organisations committed to developing and supporting a shared set of standards for fire safety in buildings. The standards aim to set and reinforce the minimum requirements professionals should adhere to ensure building safety in the event of a fire.

As the property market has become increasingly international with investments flowing across national borders, the sector still lacks a consistent set of high-level global standards that will inform the design, construction, and management of buildings to address the risks associated with fire safety. Differences in materials testing and certification, national building regulations or codes, and standards on how to manage buildings in use, particularly higher risk buildings, mean there are confusion, uncertainty and risk to the public.

Differences in materials testing and certification, national building regulations, and standards on how to manage buildings in use, particularly higher risk buildings, mean there are confusion, uncertainty and risk to the public.

Grenfell Tower

Gary Strong, the RICS Global Building Standards Director cites the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 as a recent example which demonstrates the need for a coherent global approach to fire safety. As the RICS representative to, and chair of, the IFSS Coalition, he says that the Grenfell fire – the worst in the UK for almost a century and which claimed 72 lives  not only focused attention on building and fire safety in the United Kingdom, but also exposed global inadequacies in how fire safety standards are set.

Once the high-level standards are developed, the coalition will work with professionals around the world to deliver the standards locally. The standards will be owned by the coalition and not by any one organisation. As its first order of business, the coalition will set up a standards setting committee that will draw on a group of international technical fire experts to develop and write the high-level standards to ensure they are fit for purpose across global markets.