New international coalition aims to set fire safety standards

Annette McGill

More than 30 professional bodies from around the world have come together to form a coalition to develop international standards on fire safety in buildings. 

The new group, known as the International Fire Safety Standards (IFSS) Coalition was launched at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on July 9th,  2018.

The group includes the UK'a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Chartered Institute of Building, the British Institute of Facilities Management and numerous international professional bodies. 

The IFSS Coalition is chaired by Gary Strong, RICS global building standards director. He said the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 focussed world attention on the need for a coherent global approach to fire safety.

He said: “All over the world we see the need for more high-rise structures, some residential, some commercial, and some mixed-use buildings, particularly in cities. 

“Our concern is not with the height of these buildings but with the risks they pose in the absence of a coherent and harmonised approach to setting global standards in fire safety. “

The IFSS Coalition says the property market has become increasingly international, with investments flowing across borders, but 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.

It says differences in materials testing and certification, national building regulations or codes, and standards on how to manage buildings in use, particularly higher risk buildings, means there is confusion, uncertainty and risk to the public.

IFSS will set up a standards committee that will draw on international technical fire experts to develop high-level standards. Once these have been agreed, IFSS will then work with professionals around the world to deliver the standards locally. 

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