Fire safety is not just one thing. It involves an interplay between a number of different factors. And, if one of them fails, the entire projected safety falls apart.
This is the underlying basis of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, which is a new approach to fire safety that was presented at the NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas in the summer of 2018.
- The method means that you don't just look at one factor – for example, the design of the building – but you have to view fire safety from a broader perspective in order to ensure that the overall level of safety is adequate. Many factors determine whether a building is safe, and if just one element does not live up to expectations, then you don't have the expected level of safety, says Mikael N. Gam, fire safety consultant at the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology, DBI.
Prudent principles in tumultuous times
In specific terms, the ecosystem encompasses eight points that must be in place.
- In a time when many of the things we have historically based our fire safety on are changing – for example, the use of many new materials with different fire safety properties, the ecosystem is a highly prudent principle to work to. For everything is interlinked and, to a far greater degree than previously, we have to be aware that numerous factors impact on overall fire safety, explains Mikael N. Gam.
The eight points in the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem:
- The regulatory authorities must develop and maintain effective guidelines and laws in the field.
- Planning and design teams must apply the latest guidelines and regulations in the field.
- All standards must be referenced and complied with during all phases of a building project (design, execution, operation etc.).
- Safety must be invested in, and it must be prioritised in relation to training, the choice of products and the enforcement of guidelines.
- The workforce carrying out the construction of the building must be competent and highly trained so that it can perform the work in compliance with guidelines and regulations.
- An effective quality assurance system must be in place in order to enforce rules and guidelines during the construction phase.
- Emergency response teams must be prepared, well-trained and have the necessary equipment to be able to respond to any risks that may arise.
- The public must be well-informed regarding the risks and dangers posed by fires before fire safety is in order.