IFSS Coalition to develop fire safety protocol
The International Fire Safety Standards (IFSS) Coalition was launched by the UK-based Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) earlier this year with an aim of developing a coherent global approach to fire safety. The Coalition brings together key organizations from around the world that deal with fire safety of buildings with the purpose of discussing the development of landmark industry standards to address fire safety in the built environment. The International Code Council signed on as an inaugural member of this Coalition.
The initial discussions among the members of this growing Coalition focused on the feasibility of developing a truly internationally consistent set of high-level principles for design, construction and management of buildings for fire safety. Differences in materials testing and certification, national building regulations or codes, and guidance on managing buildings in use, particularly higher-risk premises, mean that there is potential confusion, uncertainty and risk to the public. In particular, the Grenfell Tower fire in London in June 2017 has brought under the spotlight the need for a coherent global approach to the entire fire safety ecosystem, which includes not only materials and technical requirements, but also the qualifications and enforcement framework.
As its first order of business the IFSS Coalition has 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. The title of the proposed standard for which a scope has been formed is “International Fire Safety Standard — Establishing Common Performance-based Principles.”
International Code Council Senior Staff Engineer Beth Tubbs P.E., FSFPE, has been appointed as a member of the standards setting committee. The overall intent of this document is “To create a high-level overarching performance framework based on International Fire Safety Principles for fire safety design, engineering and construction, occupation, and ongoing management.”
The Standards Setting Committee is tasked with producing a document that will have broad applicability to both developed and developing countries. In the case of developed countries, it is not intended to replace the regulatory documents currently in place but instead provide overarching principles of fire safety to enhance the regulation of buildings during the lifecycle of the building. For developing countries, this document will provide a framework and specific direction in the development of comprehensive fire safety regulations. The document will not only be focused upon technical aspects but also the overall regulatory system including issues such as enforcement, construction industry qualifications and infrastructure.
“The Grenfell Tower fire focused the world’s attention on how many buildings are threatened with the prospect of failing fire safety standards. All over the world we see the need for more high-rise structures which pose risks in the absence of a coherent and harmonized approach to setting global standards in fire safety. The effort by the IFSS Coalition aims to address this concern and bring together the design, construction and management aspects of ensuring fire safety of building assets.” said Gary Strong, chair of the IFSS Coalition.
Member bodies of the IFSS Coalition are professional and not-for-profit organizations responsible for researching, developing, publicizing and implementing international fire safety standards globally for the construction and real-estate sectors. So far, there are 40 members of the Coalition, including the International Code Council, National Fire Protection Association, Society of Fire Protection Engineers and Underwriters Laboratories. Other members include organizations from Australia, England, Scotland, France, New Zealand and Singapore.