VdS Expert Conferences in Livestream

“Digital is better” was already sung by the band Tocotronic. Well, that’s not always true, but for conferences in the middle of a pandemic, there’s a lot to it. Many participants, but also speakers, are not allowed or do not want to travel at the moment. In addition, there is uncertainty as to whether, when and how the government will tighten restrictions. For this reason, we have been offering almost all VdS-Expert Conferences as live streams for several months now.
For the expert conferences in December, which under normal circumstances are part of the VdS-FireSafety Cologne, we went one step further: They were held exclusively online, as the travel situation was extremely uncertain. The exception was the two-day advanced training seminar for fire prevention and protection officers, which could be booked as both a face-to-face and an online event.


Almost 1000 participants at the seven conferences! Of these, only 45 attended in person.

The feedback from our online participants is consistently positive. This is not least due to the above-average technical and organisational effort we put into the Training Centre: Whenever possible, all speakers and moderators are on site at the Training Centre in order to be able to present a uniform lecture format with the best technical possibilities. The speakers give their presentations standing in front of real cameras, and only a few of them are connected to a laptop. The interaction between moderator, speaker and participants takes place via the carefully supervised chat. This creates a real exchange online, and the participants confirm time and again that the conference atmosphere really comes across.



Today’s fire statistics are problematic and we all know it!

When fires statistics are available they can give us general trends and indications, however the direct comparison between counties is yet not possible. This is mostly due to different terminologies, undefined data, mixed fields (structure fires, vehicle fires, wildfires etc.), lack of common methodologies, non-existent uncertainties, etc.

For example, Canada counts a fire fatality as a result of injuries leading to death within one year and one day after the fire incident. While, the UK and the USA, do not fix any time limit for recording a fire death. In other countries, “death within 48 hours after fire” is regarded as a fire death. Then there are countries that do not include fire deaths resulting from arson and other countries like in France that only report fire fatalities at the location of the fire – either those discovered by rescuers, or those declared dead after unsuccessful resuscitation attempts, excluding fire fatalities that occurred at the hospital or during transport of casualties to the hospital.

Another example is when comparing France and Italy, we find that for a relatively similar population and fire fatality per 100.000 inh., the number of injuries are completely different, leading to a questionable difference in either definitions or data reported or both.

One would then ask, how can we properly use their outcome for decision making? Well, we can’t…

To provide relevant information regarding the national fire safety situation – at least for number of fires, fire fatalities and fire injuries – fire statistics will have to be internationally improved through common terminology, common methodology, and common training and qualification of the persons reporting data from fire scenes.

This is where our project plays an important role:

EUFireStat is a 17-month project financed by the European Parliament and commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW). This project is carried out by a consortium composed of nine international fire safety institutions:

  •  Efectis – Consortium leader in the project
  • Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und –prüfung (BAM)
  • Centre for Fire Statistics of CTIF (CFS-CTIF)
  • Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology (DBI)
  • Lund University
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • School of Engineering, The University of Edinburgh
  • The European Fire Safety Alliance (EuroFSA)
  • Vereinigung zur Förderung des Deutschen Brandschutzes (VFDB)

Closing data gaps

The aim of this project is to collect and analyse existing fire data in buildings from the 27 EU countries and some international countries of interest (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, Russia, the USA and The UK) then to propose common definition and methodology to the European Commission.

The project started in August 2020 and since then we have been gathering information from countries of interest and in particular on fields collected, how they are defined and how they are used. We reached out to different stakeholders (authorities, fire services, statistic institutes, insurance, and academics). We also sent out a survey to the authorities on what type of data they believe would be helpful for decision making, for improving regulations and prevention campaigns.

Paving the way for pan-european fire safety efforts

As it was expected, the main challenges encountered at the beginning of the project was to find the appropriate persons of contact, but we were positively surprised by how well the different persons we contacted were helpful and eager to help us gather data from their country! Unfortunately, there were some countries where it was difficult to find data, such as Portugal, where most data seems to be focused on forest fires, which is outside the scope of the project. While other countries simply do not have definitions like in France. In other cases, it was difficult to find interlocutors, like in Spain.

While there are many challenges we need to face in this project, we believe that the ongoing work that we will help the fire safety community ask the right questions and hopefully to overcome some of its difficulties for the future.

Finally, on behalf of the consortium, I would like to thank all the interviewed persons and the stakeholders for their valuable input, support and commitment to the project.

You can read more about the project and download the latest reports on our website: https://eufirestat-efectis.com/

If you are interested in learning more and contributing to the project, please reach us at: EU.FireStat@efectis.com

Written by Mohamad El Houssami, PhD – Fire safety engineer at Efectis France and member of the EUFireStat consortium

A robotic arm can save facades


Facade fires are a challenge that has been debated greatly in recent years. But now there is a new solution that uses existing technology to combat these dangerous fires in a new way.

A fire breaks out in an apartment in a high-rise building. It spreads and quickly breaks through a window. The flames spread through the broken window pane and threaten to ignite the facade, with the risk of further fire spreading. This is a well-known issue that has received a lot of attention in recent years – not least after the fire in Grenfell Tower in London.

But shortly after the window has been broken, an arm horizontally shoots out of the building. There is a nozzle on the arm, which directs itself towards the fire in the window, and sprays water onto the facade. That’s the idea behind Spraysafe, a solution developed by Johnson Controls.

– It combines detection on the facade with a nozzle that automatically ejects from the facade. There are several infrared detectors on the facade, and using triangulation, the solution calculates where the fire is and where the nozzle must direct its spray. The smart thing about the solution is that it uses well-known technology to deal with a current issue, says Lars V. Roed, Fire Safety Engineer at DBI – the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology.

Undergoes full scale testing
Spraysafe can help to tackle a challenge faced by high-rise buildings. Because height makes it difficult for emergency services to fight a facade fire. At the same time, the solution can react faster than the emergency services and begin fire-fighting immediately after fire has been detected on the facade.

The testing institute, Thomas Wright-Bell International Consultants, has tested the solution according to SP method 5483, which investigates its range and ability to aim the water jet at the fire. Furthermore, it has been fully tested in a set-up that is identical to the Swedish SP Fire 105 standard, to investigate the effect of the solution in the event of a fire. The results were presented at a Society of Fire Protection Engineers conference in Malaga last year.

Alternative to replacing the facade
The tests show that the solution can prevent a fire from spreading along a facade. However, this does not mean that the solution is ready for use in construction. This depends on the regulations of this field in each individual country.

– But it looks interesting. Especially if the solution can be retrofitted to facades. In such a case, it may serve as an alternative to replacing a facade that is identified as a fire hazard. This is something that has been discovered about many facades in the UK, among others, after the fire in Grenfell Tower, says Lars V. Roed.


Fire protection in the course of the BIM (Building Information Modeling) application: start of the standardization in Germany

A working committee (VDI 2552 Sheet 11.6) at the Association of German Engineers (VDI) is starting works on the standardization of BIM application for fire protection. In particular, the information exchange requirements of those involved in fire protection for structures, such as the local building permit authority and fire brigade, planners manufacturers and installers of fire protection products and system, and insurers, are being systematically prepared. In this connection, the fire protection concept and individual fire protection measures are considering. Typical characteristics of the information exchange requirements include

  • tasks and role of a responsible person or party for a specific sub-process, e. g., planner,
  • process input, and output, including content, level of detail of the information and
  • time and addressees of the information delivery.

These specifications are intended to enable comprehensive coordination in the digital common data environment for BIM projects (CDE) and map the building information required for fire protection in the digital twin of buildings and their whole life cycle. The working committee will also examine whether the available open data format ICF (Industry Foundation Classes) according to ISO 16739, can fully cover the concerns of fire protection. If necessary additional specifications are to be defined in collaboration with ICF experts.


Landlord got prosecuted for ‘serious’ fire safety breaches

In Reading, England, a landlord got prosecuted because he did not meet the required standard of accommodation, and the council fines the landlord £ 66,000. The occupants were left “vulnerable to becoming trapped in the event of a fire”.

The court ruling is a warning to all landlords who are not ensure they comply with rules, or take action to protect their tenants.

Read more:


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Condolences for a member of the CFPA Europe family

CFPA Europe’s former chair Alain Georges from Belgium, died on 26 December as a result of cancer.
He was only 74 years old. It was in the 90th Mr Georges was chair for CFPA Europe, in total six years.
We are deeply sorry about the loss of Alain Georges, and our hearts go out to his family.

75 Anniversary Year

CFPA Europe’s member in UK, the Fire Protection Association, has a campaign, called “Know your building” as a part of their anniversary.
This campaign aiming to achieve:
- Fire sprinkler systems to be a regulatory requirement for commercial buildings such as care homes, schools, hospitals and healthcare premises
- For all businesses to have a fire strategy as part of a robust business continuity plan
- For third party certification to be regulatory requirement for all fire safety services and products.
Read more about the campaign on www.thefpa.co.uk/know-your-building


A better and more sustainable future

The countries in the world have committed themselves to improve the planet and lives of its citizens, and UN has defined this in 17 life-changing goals. These Goals should be reached by 2030.

This means that all countries, companies, and individuals should strive for and contribute to making it possible.

CFPA Europe, as a European and Global association, want to support and contribute to this important work, and our work mainly concerns four of UN’s Goals:

• Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-being
• Goal 4 – Quality Education
• Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities
• Goal 13 – Climate Action


How we contribute to UN’s Climate Action Goal: 
Adaptation to climate change – A statement of CFPA Europe

Climate change is increasingly becoming worldwide an issue for society, as well as for CFPA Europe as an association of national fire protection organisations in Europe. Here, mitigation with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is mostly on the agenda.

In parallel, adaptation to climate change is becoming increasingly essential, to limit the impacts of climate change on people, nature and society. This step is reasonable, as extreme weather events and changes in meteorological parameters, e. g regionally and seasonally rising of average temperatures or/and shifting of precipitation distributions are expected to increase because of climate change. These negative consequences are due to ongoing climate change and delayed and insufficient mitigation efforts. The typical impacts of climate change are e. g. flooding caused by heavy rainfall away from water bodies, heat waves, drought in summer and associated wildfires, storms, and hail. They are already recurring in European countries and have caused fatalities, severe damage to nature, to property and considerable economic activities impairment.

The protection against natural hazards, and, thus also against extreme weather events has been a topic of CFPA Europe since 2012. Based on experiences of member organisations of CFPA E, the following recommendations are already developed and published:

  • Guideline No.1: 2012 N Protection against flood
  • Guideline No.2: 2013 N Business Resilience – An introduction to protecting your business (Will soon be updated, also with respect to climate change)
  • Guideline No.3: 2013 N Protection of buildings against wind damage
  • Guideline No.4: 2013 N Lightning protection
  • Guideline No.5: 2014 N Managing heavy snow loads on roofs
  • Guideline No.6: 2016 N Forest Fires
  • Guideline No.7: 2018 N Demountable / Mobile flood protection systems

These guidelines are available on the CFPA Europe website for free download. New guidelines on structural protection against heavy rain, and hail, and the supply of fire-fighting water in extreme weather conditions are currently under intensive development. Related to the last cases in recent years, the “forest fires” guideline will be updated.

Protection against natural hazards is also taken into account e. g. in the guideline on IT facilities (Guideline No.14: 2019 F) interdisciplinary, parallel to fire protection. The possible interactions with mitigation are also addressed in the development and the updating of technical recommendations. This is the case with Guide­line No. 37: 2018 F “Photovoltaic systems: recommendations on loss prevention”, as renewable energy can effectively contribute to mitigation and extreme weather event impact PV installations on roofs or facades. All recommendations are intended to help the identification of hazards and the management of associated risks.

The development and updating of recommendations on protection against natural hazards are done by CFPA Europe in cooperation with experts from Insurance Europe, the umbrella organisation of insurers operating in Europe.

As a European player, CFPA Europe will continue to address climate change in its guidelines with practical recommendations as supporting contribution to adaptation to climate change.

How CFPA Europe contribute to some other Goals

We contribute not only to UN’s Goal about Climate Change, and here are some examples.

CFPA Europe try to reduce the number of fires and every fire that can be avoid has a positive effect on the well-being. However, since each fire gives carbon dioxide emissions, it is important to keep the number of fires as low as possible.

“Good Health and Well-being”(Goal 3) are important for all human and CFPA Europe has e.g. published Guidelines that gives advice how to reduce risks for fires in homes and how to reduce the consequences.
• Guideline No.24:2016 F Fire safe homes
• Guideline No.6:2011 F Fire safety in care homes for the elderly

“Quality education” (Goal 4) is, of course, a key to escaping poverty but also to make people aware of risks. In case of fire risks and other risks, it is also necessary to know how to act. CFPA Europe has for more than two decades harmonized training courses in Europe, and the interest for these courses are increasing also outside Europe. Our courses are mainly about fire safety, but we have also many security courses. They are on several qualification levels. Some of the basic courses are useful for all citizens in the whole world. CFPA Europe wish that all children should be offered some hours education in safety, because we are sure that the high numbers of fire death among young children in poor countries will reduce significant with just a few hours safety education for all children.

“Sustainable Cities and Communities” (Goal 11) is in focus in most of all our Guidelines and is also conveyed in our educations. What we have found is the best practice to reduce risks and bring better safety we summarize in Guidelines, and all these publications we are offering for free to everyone. CFPA Europe and its members have long experience and together we wish to use our knowledge to make a better and safer world.

Individual members have their own projects

Some of CFPA Europe’s members are working in project that contribute to UN’s 17 Goals. One example is the member Majaczech from Czech Republic.

Majaczech conducts several activities, including research and strategic studies, with their members/partners. These activities are mostly focused on climate action (Goal 13) and good health and well-being (Goal 3) on both national and international levels. Examples are “Occupational safety of volunteer firefighters”, “Increasing disaster resiliency of local communities during disasters”, and “Occupational safety in context of climate change”. Majaczech is also working under the UN’s National Development Program and collaborate the project “Integration of fire hazard and risk assessments into disaster risk analysis system through transfer of knowledge and Czech experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.