Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd
European passive fire protection professionals meet in Dublin
Published:  09 December, 2014

Chief Fire Officer Pat Fleming, chair of the Chief Fire Officers’ Association in Ireland, offered a warm welcome to members of the European Association for Passive Fire Protection (EAPFP), who met in Dublin on 26-27 November, 2014, to discuss issues affecting the fire protection sector across Europe.

Highlighting the importance of such international meetings in improving levels of fire safety, Mr Fleming opened the discussions by providing a brief introduction to the situation in Ireland.

He explained that poor standards of construction during the mid-2000s had led the Government to introduce more onerous building regulations. The Building Control Amendment Regulations (BCAR) place more responsibility on designers and specifiers to ensure that buildings are being constructed correctly. But, said Mr Fleming, there remain concerns surrounding the competency of installers and those with responsibility for ensuring fire safety. 

The issue of competence formed a main topic of discussions throughout the event, with many representatives declaring that they were involved in initiatives aimed at educating installers, specifiers, designers and enforcement authorities. Training courses to improve installer skills were being launched in Norway and the UK, while seminars aimed at improving skills and highlighting the importance of using third party certificated products and installers for passive fire protection were being held in many countries.

Changing building methods, materials and processes were also of concern to most delegates, who suggested that the building regulations within their states were not keeping up with changes of technology and more widespread use of fire safety engineering. With developers being encouraged to improve energy efficiency and thermal insulation within buildings, the use of combustible building products has become more common. The need for large-scale testing of products to better reflect their as-built performance was highlighted as key to ensuring the safety of modern buildings.

CE marking was also discussed, with the lack of harmonised European Standards for many fire protection products and the presence of various national marks, seen to be creating ambiguity and confusion. Delegates agreed that, while there are voluntary approvals in several countries, such certification marks must never conflict with a CE mark.

Summing up the event, EAPFP President Vicente Mans said: ‘The EAPFP aims to identify issues of interest and concern affecting its members throughout Europe.  As a result of this meeting, we have identified a number of key areas where a European wide campaign may be beneficial and where we can develop future initiatives to raise awareness of passive fire protection throughout Europe and improve the standard of installation.’