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How Fire Safety Can Improve Sustainability

February 27, 2013
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Sustainability and fire safety are often treated as separate issues. Despite a long history of fires destroying property, halting production and creating waste, fire prevention measures are seen as a necessary evil and unwanted expense.

The benefits of having an eco-friendly business, on the other hand, are largely recognized; they improve a corporate image and lower production costs among other things.

As it stands at the moment, fire safety and sustainability often act as binaries. For instance, some forms of building insulation that are used to improve sustainability can melt when a fire occurs. Likewise, some of the chemicals used in fire protection devices can be harmful to the ozone layer. The use of cement accounts for more than 5 percent of all carbon emissions.

The matter is further complicated by the fact that there are no incentives for introducing fire safety initiatives in the same way that you can be rewarded for taking environmentally friendly measures.

Too often, fire safety precautions are disregarded in favor of going green, which is hardly surprising, given the various government schemes in place. However, when looking at the bigger picture, it’s not an ‘either, or’ situation.

The Harm a Fire Can Cause

One of the easiest steps to take in making your business more sustainable is reducing waste. It’s so simple that we are encouraged to do it at home, too. There are few things as wasteful as a burnt down building.

Firstly, it’s a waste of water. Most importantly, partially or fully reconstructing a piece of property is a waste of both building materials and money.

Then there’s pollution to consider–just think of all those carbon emissions!

So What’s The Problem?

Despite the damage fires cause, fire safety and sustainability still don’t work in perfect cohesion.

There’s no point in either parties simply implementing stricter guidelines; this will only drive business and property owners to resentfully meet the minimum requirements.  As any keen negotiator will tell you, the way to move forward is to start from the middle.

Collaborate During the Building Design

According to the Fire Industry Association (FIA), 62 percent of the UK fire protection market is passive, compared to the 38 percent which is active. Passive fire protection generally comes from the building design. The fact that inflammable bricks are used as a building material, for instance, isn’t a coincidence.

If fire safety and sustainability are each taken into account when designing a building, property occupiers will unknowingly be taking basic measures by just being there.

The Role of Production Companies

Both fire safety and sustainability are ongoing business concerns. Products that are being recommended and manufactured should take both sustainability and fire safety into account, so that business owners aren’t forced to choose between the two.

The Role Of The Government and Governing Bodies

The segregation of fire safety and sustainability has to stop. They are no longer separate issues, and it’s crucial that the impact fire safety and sustainability are both fore-fronted together.

Currently, there is a push for the definition of sustainability to be changed to include the importance of complying with fire safety measures.

This is a step in the right direction and will help business owners make informed choices

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