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hssr skyscrapersMore than 30 organisations from around the world have come together to develop landmark industry standards to address fire safety in buildings

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

The coalition, which is chaired by Gary Strong, global building standards director at the UK’s RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors), consists of local and international professional bodies and standard-setting organisations committed to developing and supporting a shared set of standards for fire safety in buildings.

The standards aim to set and reinforce the minimum requirements professionals should adhere to ensure building safety in the event of a fire.

As the property market has become increasingly international with investments flowing across national borders, 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.

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.

Strong cites the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, which claimed 72 lives, as a recent example which demonstrates the need for a coherent global approach to fire safety. He says that the fire not only focused attention on building and fire safety in the UK, but also exposed global inadequacies in how fire safety standards are set.

“The Grenfell Tower fire focused the world’s attention on how many buildings are threatened with the prospect of failing fire safety standards,” he comments. “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 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.”

Initially, the IFSS Coalition will 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.

Once the high-level standards are developed, the IFSS Coalition will work with professionals around the world to deliver the standards locally.