Our Focus » EU-wide communication and collaboration

EU-wide communication and collaboration
There is not only a lack of EU-wide data on residential fire, but also a lack of EU-wide communication and collaboration on fire safety. The field of European fire safety is rather scattered. There are a lot of good initiatives throughout European countries, but most of the time, similar initiatives develop independently from each other and any connection between existing initiatives is rarely reached. Often being unaware of each other, the knowledge produced in these initiatives remains reserved for only a handful of people. The question is, therefore, what can be done to foster more EU-wide communication and collaboration? How can joint-forces be established?

Besides this, the Member States and the industry need to work together more on market surveillance. ‘Random’ monitoring should be put in place and, when identified, substandard products need to be ‘shamed’ and removed from the market. As said before, ‘people should get what is promised’. The basis of fire safety needs to be in order because fire prevention is essential, especially with regards to Europe’s most vulnerable citizens.

In recent years, the EU has made a step in the right direction. In response to the tragedy that took place in Grenfell Tower in London and to multiple voices calling for more communication and cooperation between the EU’s Member States on fire safety, the European Commission set up a Fire Information Exchange Platform (FIEP). The objective of this platform is to stimulate and enhance the exchange of information and experiences among national authorities and stakeholders on fire safety.

Who are at risk?
With regards to communication and collaboration, the focus should also be on the groups of vulnerable people in Europe. At the moment, the FIEP mostly focusses on the technical dimension of fire safety, such as fire safety engineering and the standardisation of test methods. However, it is precisely in the field of the social dimension of fire safety, such as Community Fire Safety, that a lot can be gained from the cooperation of Member States and other actors and the sharing of knowledge and information. However, the current focus of the FIEP should not be shifted, because fire safety engineering and the standardisation of test methods are important, but the focus should be extended to the social dimension of fire safety. Also, more Directorates-General (DGs) must be included.

What should we focus on?
When connecting initiatives and establishing EU-wide communication and collaboration on fire safety, the focus must be on improving the fire safety of Europe’s most vulnerable people when it comes to residential fires. The FIEP’s efforts should therefore focus more on these risk groups (without weakening the current focus on fire safety engineering and standardisation of test methods). Within this focus, the FIEP will also need to pay more attention to the role of the Fire and Rescue Services instead of primarily focussing on national governments.

Nonetheless, national governments and the industry remain important players for the FIEP. Furthermore, the FIEP must not only focus on the exchange of knowledge, but also on the exchange of new insights, initiatives, best practices and innovations in the field of fire prevention. The EU should also remain the FIEP’s facilitator. More collaboration, however, is also of importance outside the FIEP. Therefore, the EU should support small-scale collaborations between countries, for example through the EU’s Exchange of Experts programme.

How do we improve EU-wide communication and collaboration?
The FIEP must be a collaboration between all different kind of actors. As such, there is a need for more actors to be involved in the FIEP. Among others, this should include more DGs, Fire Rescue Services, the industry and insurance companies. Here, the input of the Fire Rescue Services should be particularly valued. Both the exchange of knowledge and innovation in fire safety must be FIEP’s main focus, with vulnerable citizens as the main target group. Also, cooperation between Fire and Rescue Services and national governments must be encouraged and supported by the EU.