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The Impact Of Sustainability On Modern Methods Of Construction And Fire Protection

SHARPFIBRE

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The issue of sustainability continues to grow in importance as businesses and organisations look for ways to run a greener operation.  Most corporations now take their social responsibilities very seriously, putting in place policies to reduce the negative impact that they have on the environment.  One of the key elements for any business or organisation is to look to reduce their carbon footprint by reducing the level of fossil fuels they consume in order to heat their property.  In the case of older buildings, we are seeing the introduction of sustainable energy sources, such as solar panels, biomass boilers and air-to-water and ground-to-water heat pumps.  New build properties take the issue a step further, with sustainability playing a huge role in construction of commercial property.  However, is the desire to create sustainable properties having a detrimental effect on the area of fire protection?

Safety first?

At Sharpfibre our objective is to deliver passive fire protection systems that stop the spread of fire and smoke; thus safeguarding the structural integrity of the property as well as saving lives.  Whilst we recognise that sustainability is an important issue, our priority is to prevent the loss of lives.  With this in mind we operate using only materials that we are satisfied can deliver the highest levels of performance in terms of fire protection. 

However, in recent years we have become concerned with some of the products that have been specified and approved by the international standard setting bodies.  It is our belief that too much attention is being paid to the sustainability properties of these products, with thermal performance and speed of erection taking precedence.  We do not believe that the pursuit of a zero carbon environment should be put before the preservation of life. 

Trade association takes action

Our worries are shared by others in the industry, including manufacturers and providers of passive fire protection systems.  The Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) is aware of and shares these growing concerns and is taking them up with the Government.  Established in 1975, the purpose of the ASFP is to represent and assist those involved in the ‘built in’ fire protection industry, with the aim of promoting excellence in the design and installation of products and systems. 

The ASFP is currently in the process of working with Government, regulators, enforcers and certification bodies to ensure that the issue of fire protection is recognised as an essential element of the sustainability debate.  It is a certainly a question that needs addressing urgently, with some of the products that are being specified contributing to buildings that will essentially turn into furnaces should a serious fire occur.  With the ASFP being the leading trade association in the industry, we are confident that the Government will listen to their concerns and take the appropriate action.  

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