1.Previously known as the International Community … before the #USA #NATO #EU / #Ukraine / #Russia #ProxyWar … now known as the ‘West’, the ‘Hegemons’, the ‘War Mongers’, the ‘Ex-Colonial Powers’ (Footnote A), the ‘Slave Masters’, the ‘Climate Disruptors’ … and that tiny little speck in the Persian Gulf Region is #Israel (an Apartheid, Criminal State in blatant breach of so many United Nations Resolutions).
[ 2023-10-31: Right now, when unified and concerted global action on Climate Disruption is urgently required … this fracture in the ‘International Community’ is becoming more serious as a result of Israel’s Barbaric War Crimes in Gaza.]
Home Truths From Afar …
2015 University of Chicago Lecture by Prof. John J. Mearsheimer, Political Scientist & International Relations Scholar: The Causes & Consequences of the Ukraine Crisis … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrMiSQAGOS4&t=1034s
Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits & 1936 Montreux Convention …
During this War, Türkiye has the right to block passage of Warships and Military-Aid Vessels.
2.Expansion of the BRICS Group of Emerging Economies … Brazil, Russia, India (Bhārat), China & South Africa …
3.Global Competition With China’s 2013 Belt & Road Initiative …
4.Europe After Brexit … a complex extrication process which has caused significant disruption to neighbouring countries … and considerable bad feeling among an even wider group of European Union Member States.
5.African Countries finally throwing off the Yoke of France (and Emperor Macron) … and telling both of them to take their Military Bases back home …
2023-06-28:Sustainability is not an abstract concept, divorced from current geo-political realities. Lasting Peace and Robust International Law are fundamental prerequisites for Sustainable Human and Social Development … a truth forgotten, and/or conveniently set aside, by all parties to the savage and immensely destructive #USA #NATO #EU / #Ukraine / #Russia #War.
USA, 60 Years Ago …
In the tense atmosphere of the Cold War with Russia, and just after the Cuban Missile Crisis a few months earlier … a short extract – inspiring words – from President John F. Kennedy’s Commencement Address at the American University, Washington D.C., on 10 June 1963 …
” … I have, therefore, chosen this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived – yet it is the most important topic on earth: World Peace.
What kind of peace do I mean ? What kind of peace do we seek ? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children – not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women – not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.
I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.
Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles – which can only destroy and never create – is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.
I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war – and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task. …”
Fast Forward 60 Years To The Present …
The #GroupFeeling towards #China (#PRC) in the same Washington D.C. is an irrational and disturbing mixture of paranoia, panic, fear, jealousy, and war fever. All too easily, other countries have been sucked into the Hegemonic Agenda of President Joe Biden – an old fashioned, mid-20th Century Cold War Warrior. Pax Americana, USA #Exceptionalism, weaponisation of the #Dollar, widespread #Sanctioning (at this stage, who isn’t being sanctioned ?), illegal #Trade restrictions, and blatant #HumanRights hypocrisy (see the recent UN Report on the USA #Guantánamo Detention Facility in #Cuba) are all being quietly rejected by the Global ‘South’ and ‘East’.
But who today, in the ‘West’, understands China’s assertiveness … and why it must be uncompromising ? The #USA’s ideologically-driven ignorance has led, in the past, to enormous blunders … Viet Nam, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, etc., etc.
On 25 November 2020, I was very pleased to give a Virtual Presentation to a private discussion group …
Click to download Presentation, 10 Pages, PDF File 5.55 MB
Using #Taiwan to bait China and ramp up military tensions can only end badly for the ‘West’. China’s ‘Century of Humiliation’ is over … President Xi Jinping, and the Communist Party of China (#CPC) Central Committee, will certainly not allow that sad history to repeat itself.
The proposal by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) to open an office – any type of office – in #Japan is not only ridiculous … it is preposterous.
China is not an enemy of the European Union (#EU) … Ursula von der Leyen (President of the European Commission) and Josep Borrell (High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) would do well to remember that !
[ Footnote 1: Use of Cluster Munitions in Armed Conflicts …
The Convention on Cluster Munitions (https://www.clusterconvention.org/) – adopted in Dublin on 30 May 2008, and became binding #InternationalLaw when it entered into force on 1 August 2010 – was born out of a collective determination to address the humanitarian consequences and unacceptable harm to civilians caused by cluster munitions. States Parties to the Convention are committed to the full universalization of the #CCM and to promote its norms, as well as to fully implement it. Its implementation contributes to advancing the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (#SDG’s) and the promotion of International #Peace and #Security, #HumanRights and International Humanitarian #Law.
Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 1 – General Obligations & Scope of Application
1. Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to:
(a) Use cluster munitions ;
(b) Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions ;
(c) Assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.
Question: If the vast majority of NATO Member Countries have ratified this Convention … why has the USA been permitted to supply these munitions to Ukraine ?? ]
[ Footnote 2: Xi Jinping’s Visit to Ireland in February 2012 …
Sustainable Fire Engineering (SFE) is a Facilitator – no more than Architecture, Structural Engineering, or Spatial Planning – in the task of realizing a Safe, Resilient and Sustainable Built Environment for All. However, SFE has an essential role to fill throughout the difficult journey towards that target. In close collaboration with other design disciplines, many iterations … twists and turns along the road … will be necessary.
Beware Greenwashing !
Sustainability is NOT a graft-on, or an optional extra, to Conventional Fire Engineering. This intricate, open, dynamic and continuously evolving Concept must cut right to the core of everyday design practice, and must positively impact all areas of that practice.
In this third decade of the 21st Century … the Safety Objectives in current Fire Codes / Regulations are limited, inadequate, and lagging far behind today’s creative moulding and re-shaping of the Built Environment ; they are almost, but not entirely, irrelevant in the context of the urgently required transformation of conventional fire engineering. For anybody who cannot see the broad, beautiful landscape beyond codes and regulations … this SFE Road Map is definitely not for you. For those who can see, your constant companion … your compass … will be a Personal Code of Ethics.
Essential Considerations Before Starting Out On The Road …
1.World Trade Centre Attacks in New York City, on 11 September 2001. Two sets of important Recommendations were issued by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2005 and 2008. Not only is the implementation of these still incomplete, but the solid progress which has been made e.g. on Firefighter Safety, is continuously under threat from vested interests. Other jurisdictions have tended to ignore the Recommendations. SFE takes full account of this Extreme Man-Made Event.
2.Grenfell Tower Fire in London, on 14 June 2017. Evidence at the Official Inquiry continues to shock and horrify ; the entire fire safety regulatory edifice in England is dysfunctional, and it poses a real and serious danger to Public Health and Safety. Inquiry Phase 1 Recommendations were issued in 2019. Already, the Recommendation concerning Evacuation for Vulnerable Building Users & PEEP’s (#33.22 e and f) has been discarded by AHJ’s … and it has also been stated (#34.14) that as everything about the single narrow staircase in the Tower appeared to be OK, it will not be investigated in Inquiry Phase 2 … a sure sign of dysfunctional dysfunction ! SFE sees beyond these major flaws.
3.Sustainable Buildings Il Bosco Verticale Towers in Milano … this exciting Project, designed by Stefano Boeri and completed in October 2014, has become the International Icon for innovative / environment-friendly construction. These new approaches to building design are posing enormous fire safety challenges. [ Remember back … was it 15 years before fire codes were able to ‘solve’ the Atrium in buildings ? ] SFE, however, must cope with this extraordinary level of architectural creativity ; and Fire Engineering Practitioners must be capable of active participation, collaboratively, within Project Design/Construction Teams.
Looking past the Milan Project … it is important for the reader to experience a more rounded flavour of where the exciting synergy between Creative Design and the Inclusive Language of Sustainability is at present, and where it is tending to go …
4.Building Energy Performance Rating Schemes Under enormous environmental and political pressures, the headlong rush to conserve energy in buildings, and to make them more energy efficient … especially after the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine … is proceeding in blissful ignorance of fire safety and necessary independent technical controls. Measurement of real building performance, after energy refurbishment has been completed, is generally avoided.
The Road Ahead … From Gro Harlem Brundtland To Reliable Fire Statistics …
2019-11-11:Kensington and Chelsea’s wilful disdain for the Health, Safety and Welfare of ALL the residents within its functional area … and knowing neglect of its legal and ethical Duty of Care towards ALL … resulted in a significant number of people with activity limitations living high up in Grenfell Tower prior to June 2017 … in spite of the now incontrovertible fact that, in the event of a fire emergency, many would be left behind … to die.
‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’
Article 1, 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
London Fire Brigade was an easy target for the Grenfell Fire Inquiry’s Phase 1 Report, made all the more so following some careless, insensitive and ignorant public comments by its Commissioner, Dany Cotton. However, we must clearly distinguish between the behaviour of LFB’s Frontline Firefighters, who were brave and dedicated despite inadequate training, and lack of proper equipment, back-up resources and personnel strength … and LFB’s Senior Commanders … which is another matter.
In England … there is widespread indifference, and some rabid resistance, to answering the desperate needs, and mitigating the agonizing plight, of Vulnerable Building Users during fire emergencies … which includes people with activity limitations, children under 5 years of age, frail older people (not All older people !), women in late stage pregnancy, people with disabilities, refugees, migrants, the poor, and people who do not understand the local culture or cannot speak the local language. British National Standard B.S.9999 (not solely those sections previously contained in B.S.5588:Part 8) and England’s National Building Regulations – Approved Document B: ‘Fire Safety’ – offer only token, i.e. inadequate, protection for vulnerable people in fire emergencies. When a senior representative of BSI, the British Standards Institution, was directly approached by me, and requested to open up B.S.9999 for meaningful updating … the answer was a firm “NO” ! The same attitude is deep-seated among fire research organizations in the country, and among people who develop computer fire evacuation models.
Grenfell Fire Inquiry’s Phase 1 Recommendations – Chapter #33
After hearing the first media reports about the tough Recommendations aimed at London Fire Brigade, I had naturally expected that the other Phase 1 Recommendations would be equally as tough. But NO … they are far from comprehensive … they are fragmentary, lack depth and any sort of coherence. Specifically with regard to Vulnerable Building Users, the Recommendations are pathetically and disgracefully inadequate !
And in case there is any doubt, the status quo in England – and to be fair, in many other countries as well – is entirely unacceptable !!
Few people realize that the fire safety objectives in current fire regulations/codes are limited and constrained. To implement changes to the flawed regulations in England, it will take many years … and, based on recent past history, implementation will be incomplete and unsatisfactory. Residents in high-rise buildings, whether public or private, must no longer wait in vain for this to happen. Instead, the time has arrived to become proactive, and to immediately initiate their own comprehensive programmes of Self-Protection In Case Of Fire … which go far and beyond the pathetic Recommendations in Moore-Bick’s Phase 1 Report.
Fires Similar To Grenfell Tower Are Frequent
[ Paragraph #33.5 ] … although not unprecedented, fires of the kind that occurred at Grenfell Tower are rare.
[ Response ] Not true … misleading, and a complete fallacy !
Just since 2010, fires similar to Grenfell Tower have occurred in South Korea, many in the United Arab Emirates, France, Chechnya, Australia, Azerbaijan, Russia, and most recently in Turkey. Each one of these fires has been recorded and illustrated on our Twitter Account: @sfe2016dublin. Seeing, and understanding, this striking pattern of unusual fire behaviour … a competent person would react and plan accordingly.
Effective Fire Compartmentation Is A Delusion … A Fantasy !
[ Paragraph #33.5 ] Effective compartmentation is likely to remain at the heart of fire safety strategy and will probably continue to provide a safe basis for responding to the vast majority of fires in high-rise buildings.
[ Response ] Not true … demonstrates a fundamental flaw in European fire safety strategizing !
In an environment of lax or non-existent compliance monitoring … the quality of architectural/fire engineering design and the reliability of related-construction will both, inevitably, be poor and unacceptable. Fire loads in today’s residential buildings are also far higher than a generation ago, for example, because of more electrical/electronic equipment and synthetic furnishings. And whatever about first-built, i.e. whether it’s good, bad or ugly, later alterations and other construction work will typically compromise the original performance of fire resisting doorsets and service penetration fire sealing. Modern ‘green’ building materials and construction methods are further aggravating these problems. A competent person would be aware of fire research at the UL Laboratories, in the U.S.A., which confirmed the above developments.
‘ Rigorous enforcement of building codes and standards by state and local agencies, well trained and managed, is critical in order for standards and codes to ensure the expected level of safety. Unless they are complied with, the best codes and standards cannot protect occupants, emergency responders, or buildings.’
U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology. Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers. NIST NCSTAR 1. 2005.
‘Stay Put’ Policies Are Criminal
[ Paragraph #33.5 ] However, in the case of some high-rise buildings it will be necessary for building owners and fire and rescue services to provide a greater range of responses, including full or partial evacuation. Appropriate steps must therefore be taken to enable alternative evacuation strategies to be implemented effectively.
[ Paragraph #33.15 ]e. that policies be developed for managing a transition from ‘stay put’ to ‘get out’ ;
[ Response ] Too little … and far too late !
[ Solution ] Two fatal fires separated in time and space … the 2009 Lakanal House Fire, in London, and the 2017 Marco Polo High-Rise Apartment Building Fire, in Honolulu, continue to clearly demonstrate that effective fire compartmentation is a delusion. Even if carried out by a competent person … it is not possible to establish with reasonable certainty, by means of a visual/surface building inspection alone, whether or not fire compartmentation is effective in an existing building. The London and Honolulu buildings were not fitted with any active fire suppression system, e.g. fire sprinklers or a water mist system.
Buildings must remain structurally ‘serviceable’, not merely structurally ‘stable’, for a Required Period of Time. See the Presentation Overhead below.
Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s), firefighters, client organizations, design teams, and building owners/managers must not, therefore, direct, or even suggest, that any of its building users wait (‘stay put’) in that building during a fire emergency. A competent person always connects building fire performance with its structural performance, and vice versa … and always learns from the evidence of ‘real’ fatal fires.
All Lifts/Elevators Must Be Used For Fire Evacuation
[ Paragraph #33.13 ] When the firefighters attended the fire at Grenfell Tower they were unable to operate the mechanism that should have allowed them to take control of the lifts. Why that was so is not yet known, but it meant that they were unable to make use of the lifts in carrying out firefighting and search and rescue operations. It also meant that the occupants of the tower were able to make use of the lifts in trying to escape, in some cases with fatal consequences.
[ Response ] There is a ridiculous assumption in Moore-Bick’s Phase 1 Report that it is only firefighters who use lifts/elevators during a fire emergency, and that it is dangerous for anybody else to use them.
[ Solution ] In order to adequately protect Vulnerable Building Users … ALL lifts/elevators in a building must be capable of being used for fire evacuation during a fire emergency.
Until such time as firefighters arrive at a building fire scene in sufficient strength and are properly prepared to carry out effective firefighting and rescue operations … Firefighter Lifts/Elevators must be used for the fire evacuation of building occupants/users. Prior liaison and pre-planning with local fire services is always necessary with regard to the use of firefighting lifts/elevators for the evacuation of occupants/users.
A fundamental principle of fire safety design is that there must be alternative, safe and accessible evacuation routes away from the scene of a fire, which can occur in any part of a building during its life cycle ; these evacuation routes must be capable of being used by all building users, including people with activity limitations.
This is why there must always be at least 2 Fire Evacuation Staircases in High-Rise Residential Buildings !
The location of lifts/elevators and lobbies, within peripheral building cores, must always be considered in relation to the position of adjacent fire protected evacuation staircases, which must be easily found by building occupants/users, and the areas of rescue assistance adjoining those staircases.
To be used for fire evacuation, a lift/elevator must be ‘fit for its intended use’, must operate reliably during a fire emergency, and must comprise a complete building assembly which meets specific performance criteria.
A Lift/Elevator Fire Evacuation Assembly is an essential aggregation of building components arranged together – comprising a lift/elevator, its operating machinery, a hard-construction vertical shaft enclosure, and on every floor served by the lift/elevator a sufficiently large, constantly monitored lobby for people to wait in safety and with confidence, all robustly and reliably protected from heat, smoke, flame and structural collapse during and after a fire – for the purpose of facilitating the safe evacuation of building occupants/users throughout the duration of a fire emergency.
If a building is located in a Seismic Zone, Lift/Elevator Fire Evacuation Assemblies which can safely operate during an earthquake must always be specified and installed.
Gravity Evacuation Chair Devices, which are not electrically-powered and operate by gravity, facilitate downward movement, only, on straight flights of stairs. Having descended a staircase, with the user having left his/her wheelchair behind, these devices are not fully stable when travelling the long horizontal distances necessary to reach an external ‘place of safety’ remote from a building, perhaps over rough terrain.
If lifts/elevators in existing buildings undergo a major overhaul, or if they are replaced, they should then be made capable of use for fire evacuation.
Lifts/elevators used for fire evacuation must always have a fire protected electrical supply which is separate from the main building electrical supply, in order to ensure that they can continue to operate without interruption during a fire emergency.
In addition to conventional passive fire protection measures, Lift/Elevator Lobbies must also be protected by an active fire suppression system. Water mist is the preferred fire suppression medium, because it is user-friendly, will not greatly interfere with user visibility, uses far less water compared to water sprinklers, and is also climate-friendly. Furthermore, because people with activity limitations will be waiting for evacuation in lift/elevator lobbies, building designers and managers must ensure that these lobbies are properly fitted out with appropriate fire safety equipment, facilitation aids, smoke hoods, signage and communications, etc., etc.
Proper Use of Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEP’s)
[ Paragraph #33.22 ]f. that the owner and manager of every high-rise residential building be required by law to include up-to-date information about persons with reduced mobility and their associated PEEP’s in the premises information box ;
[ Response ] There is No Recommendation or explanation in Moore-Bick’s Inquiry Phase 1 Report concerning the ‘what’, ‘why’ or ‘how’ of PEEP’s.
[ Solution ] A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan is a person-specific and location-specific document, and is an integral part of the overall Fire Emergency Management Plan for a building. It is intended for regular occupants/users who may be vulnerable in an emergency situation, i.e. those with limited abilities in relation to self-protection, independent evacuation to an external place of safety remote from the building, and active participation in the building’s fire emergency procedures.
In new buildings, which are effectively accessible (including fire safe) for all, Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans are not necessary.
In existing buildings, Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans must not be used to limit or restrict access by an individual to any part of a building and its facilities. To ensure this, sufficient accessibility works must be carried out and appropriate management procedures put in place.
In buildings of historical, architectural and cultural importance, where the historical, architectural or cultural integrity of the building must be protected, Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans may limit or restrict access to parts of a building and some of its facilities. Refer to the ICOMOS 1964 International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites.
There are No Recommendations in Moore-Bick’s Inquiry Phase 1 Report concerning these critical issues.
[ Solution ] There are many fire safety problems associated with high-rise and tall buildings. Evacuation by staircases alone can take many hours ; the physical exertion involved in descending even 10 floors/storeys by staircase is too much for many able-bodied people and is impossible for most vulnerable building occupants/users, particularly people with activity limitations. Passive fire protection of staircases, alone and/or supplemented by pressurization to prevent smoke ingress, is far too unreliable. And heavily equipped firefighters cannot be expected to ascend more than 10 floors/storeys by staircase before carrying out arduous firefighting and search/rescue operations. Furthermore, uninterrupted lift/elevator shafts, extending throughout the full height of a tall building, pose a significant risk of uncontrolled fire spread.
A Floor of Temporary Refuge is an open, structurally robust floor/storey in a tall building – having an exceptionally low level of fire hazard and risk, ‘intelligently’ fitted with a suitable user-friendly and climate-friendly fire suppression system, e.g. water mist, and serviced by sufficient accessible, fire protected lifts/elevators capable of being used for evacuation during a fire emergency ; it is designed and constructed to halt the spread of heat, smoke and flame beyond that floor/storey, and is intended as a place of temporary respite, rest and relative safety for building users before continuing with evacuation, and as a forward command and control base for firefighters.
In a high-rise, tall, super-tall or mega-tall building, every 20th floor must be a Floor of Temporary Refuge, even if the building is co-joined with another building, or there are sky bridges linking the building with one or more other buildings.
Special provision must be made, on these floors, for accommodating large numbers of building occupants/users with activity limitations … and because people will be waiting on Floors of Temporary Refuge, perhaps for extended periods of time, building designers and managers must ensure that these floors/storeys are properly fitted out with appropriate fire safety equipment, facilitation aids, smoke hoods, signage and communications, etc., etc.
Conclusion: Fire Engineering Capacity in England is Lacking
In England … the very important 2005 and 2008 U.S. NIST Recommendations following the 9-11 (2001) Attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York City, were completely ignored. Following the 2009 Lakanal House Fire, in London, the 2013 Coroner’s Recommendations were only partially implemented.
With regard to Vulnerable Building Users … there is NO capacity within the English Fire Establishment, including the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), English Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s), and its Building Design and Fire Engineering Communities … to properly respond to … never mind understand … the Fire Safety, Protection and Evacuation for ALL in Buildings.
At this time, in London … multiple, fragmented investigations are taking place into the actual fire incident … the role of the Local Authority, and building management … those involved in the refurbishment (‘tarting up’) design and construction … the fire services, particularly their ‘Stay Put’ Policy and how it adversely impacted on vulnerable Tower occupants during the emergency … and the highly flawed regulatory model of Building and Fire Codes with light-touch Control, which is still operating in England. One of Murphy’s Laws immediately springs to mind with regard to the intended ineffectiveness of this overly-complex process !
Many other countries have adopted some or all of this modern English regulatory model which, after the repeal of an older Bye-Law format, has been shaped by political expediency, cost-effectiveness and general ineptitude … with little or no adaptation to local conditions in the adopting jurisdictions. Ireland adopted this model with some, but not a lot, of adaptation.
Fire Safety In Ireland ?
On 6 June 2018 … while that investigative activity was hitting the headlines in England … Minister Eoghan Murphy, T.D., Ireland’s Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, quietly published the Report: ‘Fire Safety in Ireland’ … http://www.housing.gov.ie/local-government/fire-and-emergency-management/fire-safety/eoghan-murphy-publishes-report-fire … by a High-Level Task Force within his Department’s National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management, after serious concerns and fears had been expressed in the public media that a similar fire tragedy might also occur in this jurisdiction.
To be crystal clear … this Report is a Bureaucratic Whitewash … an insult to the Public ! Nice sounding technical ‘blarney’ camouflages a failure to deal directly with critical issues, and answer concerns … while other important issues are avoided altogether.
May 2018 – Ireland’s Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government Report
Expanding on my comments in the Interview with Barry Lenihan, on RTE Radio 1’s Drive Time early evening news programme on Friday (2018-06-08) …
A. Initially, Irish Local Authorities were requested to carry out a preliminary survey to identify all buildings of more than six storeys, or 18m in height. Specifically, they were asked to identify those buildings which had an external cladding system which might be a cause for concern.
This height threshold of six storeys/18m is arbitrary … an external cladding system can be just as much a cause for concern in a building which is lower. Imagine discarded cigarette butts or a rubbish fire at the base of such a system … and the resulting speed of fire spread and development across a building façade !
B. The highly flawed regulatory model of Building and Fire Codes, with light-touch Control, which resulted in the Grenfell Tower Fire Tragedy … we also have. Wake up and smell the coffee Ireland !
At the beginning of the 1990’s, when Ireland had been persuaded by the European Commission to finally introduce legal, national building regulations having a functional format … our National Authority Having Jurisdiction, in desperation, grabbed the then Approved Documents for England & Wales … brought them back to Ireland, put Irish covers on them, and originally called them ‘Technical Documents’ … but, after seeing a tiny ray of inspiring light, later changed their title to the more accurate ‘Technical Guidance Documents’ ! This hunger for adopting all things English which are fire safety related continues to this day … with a similar, ongoing division of Technical Guidance Document B: ‘Fire Safety’ into 2 Separate Volumes.
This may have been a convenient response under pressure … but it has been very short-sighted. It has impeded the growth of a comprehensive and coherent philosophy on Safe, Inclusive, Age-Friendly, Resilient, Sustainable Planning, Design and Construction Codes/Controls which is suited to an Irish context and responsible local needs (not desires!).
C. Everywhere … this Report has a lot – too much – to say about Fire Risk Assessment ! After the Grenfell Tower Fire, however, Fire Risk Assessments must only be carried out by competent persons … and the process of Fire Risk Assessment, itself, must be radically improved ! And of course, prior to any Risk Assessment … a proper Fire Hazard Appraisal must be carried out.
D. To accurately present Fire Safety Trends in Ireland … it is not enough to furnish reliable fire fatality statistics. It is also necessary to produce reliable fire injury statistics … and reliable information on direct/indirect socio-economic losses.
E. The quality of fire safety related construction on Irish Building Sites continues to be very poor and problematic. Fire Compartmentation is nowhere near being adequately – never mind acceptably – reliable ! And during the last few years we have had quite a number of close-calls concerning fire incidents in medium-rise residential buildings.
F.Fire Evacuation for people with activity limitations is still handled atrociously in our current building regulations. This is ironic because, on 20 March 2018 last, Ireland had to be dragged screaming to ratify the U.N. 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) !
Positive Progress By Another Path !
1. Abandon the outdated English functional requirements in THEIR building regulations … and adopt a far better, more up-to-date body of functional requirements which is already on the Irish Statute Books … Annex I of the European Union’s Construction Products Regulation 305/2011. And because there are important horizontal linkages between requirements … immediately finish the ridiculous current separation between Fire Safety requirements and all of the other requirements. And yes … new Technical Guidance Documents will have to be drafted.
.Regulation (EU) No 305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 9 March 2011, laying down harmonized conditions for the marketing of construction products and repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC
2. Yes … ‘Persons Having Control’ of buildings have responsibilities with regard to fire safety. But that is only one side of the coin ! National and Local Authorities Having Jurisdiction have greater responsibilities.
If we are at all serious about Consumer Protection … bad, inadequate, faulty construction must be prevented beforehand … it is too late, too costly and, in many cases, too impractical to correct afterwards. Self Regulation by building design professions and construction organizations is NO Regulation ! Stringent, independent technical control inspections must be carried out on all projects by Building Control personnel … which used to happen in Dublin City/County and Cork City/County prior to the introduction of legal building regulations in the early 1990’s … and, depending on complexity, must also be carried out at critical stages during the construction process.
Building Control Sections in all Local Authorities must be properly resourced with competent personnel, equipment, training and support infrastructure.
Inspections concerning compliance with all functional requirements in the building regulations, including fire safety, must be carried out only by Building Control Personnel. Chief Fire Officers must not be allowed to manage or be involved in any aspect of Building Control. On the same project … a Disability Access Certificate Application and a Fire Safety Certificate Application must be inter-linked and overlap sufficiently, showing no gaps in compliance. Inspections must be carried out in connection with all Certificate Applications. Building Control personnel must satisfy themselves that actual construction at least matches, if not improves upon, what is shown in design documentation.
Building Control Inspection Reports must be made available for public view.
3.Firefighters are NOT a disposable Social Asset ! National and Local Authorities Having Jurisdiction … and some Chief Fire Officers … must begin to understand this fundamental truth !
Fire Services in all Local Authorities must each be properly resourced according to local needs … with competent personnel, equipment, training and support infrastructure. Shared provision of resources looks very neat on paper but, in practice, works very badly. Refer to the Grenfell Tower Fire and London Fire Brigade having to borrow firefighting equipment from other Fire Services.
After the 2015 Tianjin Regional Fire Devastation, in China, and the 2001 WTC Attacks on 9-11, in New York City … front line firefighters must be supported by Specialist Hazard Appraisal and Structural Engineering Units.
For Firefighter Safety in buildings and to quickly find people with activity limitations waiting in Areas of Rescue Assistance and/or other survivors in different locations … a portable and reliable Thermal Imaging Camera is an essential piece of every firefighter’s equipment.
And Firefighter Safety begins with good building design. In all but the most simple building types, Circulation Routes must be designed for Contraflow … people moving away from a fire in a building and towards safety while, at the same time, heavily equipped firefighters are entering the building and moving towards the fire.
There is no place for ‘Stay Put’ Policies in Irish Residential Buildings of any height.
Ireland’s 2017 Oireachtas Report: ‘Safe As Houses’ …
December 2017 – Houses of the Oireachtas – Joint Committee on Housing, Planning & Local Government
This was a good effort by our public representatives … but they missed core issues !
After The Grenfell Tower Fire !
Further to my last Blog, dated 2017-10-10 …
The 2017 Fire in England was not an extraordinary fire. Since the beginning of this decade, we continue to see a series of such fires: South Korea (2010) – UAE & France (2012) – Chechnya (2013) -Australia (2014) – UAE, Azerbaijan & UAE again (2015) – UAE (2016) – UAE & Russia (2017) – Turkey (2018).
With regard to Command & Control of Large Scale Emergencies … English AHJ’s should have paid attention to the 2005 & 2008 U.S. National Institute of Science & Technology (NIST) Recommendations following the 9-11 WTC Buildings 1, 2 & 7 Collapses.
The Fire Safety Objectives in current Building & Fire Codes/Regulations are very limited. In Ireland, this is clearly stated in Technical Guidance Document B …
‘ Building Regulations are made for specific purposes. Part B of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations is therefore primarily concerned with the health, safety and welfare of persons. The fire safety measures outlined in this guidance document are intended for the protection of life from fire.’
Only insofar as it is necessary to protect the lives of able-bodied building users/occupants … is there a concern for property protection.
There is only inadequate, token concern for the protection of people with disabilities.
Client organizations, facility managers, building designers, construction organizations … and journalists … must fully comprehend these limits.
In the photograph below … look closely at the External Firefighting Operations at the bottom of the Tower. There are limits to what can be achieved from outside a building !
A Fire Suppression System (Water Sprinklers/Mist/Hybrid) is an essential Fire Protection Measure in ALL Medium and High-Rise Residential Buildings … which include Apartment Blocks, Hotels, Hostels, Student Accommodation & Social Housing, i.e. ANYWHERE there is a Sleeping Hazard.
A Reliable and Credible Fire Detection & Warning System is an essential Fire Protection Measure in ALL Buildings … and must be capable, under the control of Building Management, of transmitting warnings in many formats, i.e. Audible + Visual + Multi-Lingual Voice + Tactile.
Fire Evacuation Routes in Buildings must be designed for CONTRAFLOW … people moving away from a fire and towards safety while, at the same time, heavily equipped firefighters are entering the building and moving towards the fire.
Good Fire Evacuation Route Design is INTUITIVE and OBVIOUS. In many buildings, however, this is not always the reality. Effective Fire Evacuation Signage … comprising high-level signage, low-level signage, with both supplemented by photoluminescence … must be installed in ALL Buildings.
For the purpose of protecting Vulnerable Building Users in Fire Emergencies, ALL Lifts/Elevators in Buildings must be capable of being used for Evacuation.
Fire Risk Assessments must NO LONGER be carried out by people WITHOUT COMPETENCE in Fire Engineering AND Building Design & Construction … and the Fire Risk Assessment Process itself must be thoroughly re-examined and upgraded.
Adapted to Local Context and Heritage (fr: le Patrimoine – see ICOMOS 2011) … geography, climate (incl. change, variability and severity swings), social need, culture, and economy, etc., etc.
‘Person-Centredness’ is a core value of Sustainable Human & Social Development … an essential principle in Sustainable Design … an indispensable support framework for Sustainability-related Policy and Decision-making … and an invaluable indicator when monitoring Sustainability Implementation.
Why so because ?
It is the mid-1990’s … in the centre of Dublin City.
Imagine, if you will, a very large historical building having a civic, justice-related function … and also an enormous Energy Bill. As described in a much earlier post, dated 2009-02-20, and the series of posts which followed on the subject of Building Energy Rating (BER) … we found that the most effective and practical remedy for this gaping and continuously haemorrhaging ‘energy’ wound was to approach the problem though the building’s users, their perception of thermal comfort, and International Standard ISO 7730.
The ‘real’ reduction in energy consumption, the ‘real’ increase in the building’s energy efficiency, and the ‘real’ improvements in building user / employee comfort and morale … were astounding !
At a 1999 Strasbourg Conference in France … I delivered the following Paper …
These are interesting times; the benefits of modern technology have bypassed and long overtaken the stirring thoughts, visions and catch cries of Architects at the beginning of the 20th Century. However, at this time in Europe, we must now ask ourselves some difficult questions …
“What should be the Design Agenda for the ‘Built Environment’ in the new millennium ?”
“Do we actually understand the ‘real’ needs and desires of ‘real’ people in an inclusive society ?”
It is Sustainable Design – the art and science of the design, supervision of related construction/de-construction, and maintenance of sustainability in the Built Environment – which is currently generating a quantum leap in the forward evolution of a more coherent design philosophy.
Principle 1 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development states …
‘Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.’
Deeply embedded, therefore, within this philosophy is the concept of ‘person-centredness’, i.e. that core design value which places real people at the centre of creative concerns, and gives due consideration to their health, safety, and welfare in the Built Environment – it includes such specific performance criteria as: a sensory rich and accessible (mobility, usability, communications and information) environment; fire safety; thermal comfort; air, light and visual quality; protection from ionizing / electromagnetic radiation; nuisance noise abatement; etc. An important ‘person-centred’ design aid is the questionnaire survey, which is not only a very valuable source of information, but formalizes meaningful consultation between practitioners and end users.
SDI’s Guideline Framework on achieving equality of opportunity and social inclusion, which is based on a strategy produced by Directorate-General V of the European Commission, shows how further essential elements of ‘social wellbeing’ also relate to person-centredness; these include partnership between all sectors of society, consensus, transparency and openness.
This paper explores the rational and legal basis for person-centredness of the Built Environment in Europe. Fieldwork incorporating this innovative approach is also examined. Finally, a body of principles – a European Charter – is outlined which aims to ensure that new construction works, and renovated existing buildings, perform reliably, are adaptable, accessible and responsive, ‘intelligently green’ (French: intelli-verdure), cost-effective and inherently sustainable.
CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION & MITIGATION POLICIES
AND BEFORE developing Climate Change Policies which will have such dramatic impacts on human populations, and their lifestyles, around the globe … perhaps those policies would be more effective, in the ‘real’ world and in the long-term … if we looked at the problem through the ‘eyes’ of people !
It will be worth taking a look at an interesting background paper produced by the World Bank in 2009 … whether you agree or disagree with the following statements …
“A lack of citizen understanding regarding the basics of climate science is an almost universal finding worldwide even though knowledge has increased over time. Especially notable is confusion between the causes of climate change and ozone depletion, and confusion between weather and climate.”
“North Americans know far less about climate change than their counterparts in the developed world.”
“Accurate and complete understanding of information is not a prerequisite for concern.”
“Concern is widespread around the world, but it may also be inversely correlated with the wealth and carbon footprint of a nation, or the socio-economic ‘class’ within a nation.”
“In some studies, more informed respondents reported less concern or sense of responsibility towards climate change.”
“People stop paying attention to global climate change when they realize that there is no easy solution for it. Many people judge as serious only those problems for which they think action can be taken.”
Policy Research Working Paper No.4940 (May 2009) – Kari Marie Norgaard
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (290 Kb)
This World Bank Working Paper – prepared as a background paper to the World Bank’s World Development Report 2010: Development in a Changing Climate. Policy Research Working Papers are posted on the Web at http://econ.worldbank.org
World Bank Working Paper 4940 (2009) – ABSTRACT …
Climate scientists have identified global warming as the most important environmental issue of our time, but it has taken over 20 years for the problem to penetrate the public discourse in even the most superficial manner. While some nations have done better than others, no nation has adequately reduced emissions and no nation has a base of public citizens that are sufficiently socially and politically engaged in response to climate change. This paper summarizes international and national differences in levels of knowledge and concern regarding climate change, and the existing explanations for the worldwide failure of public response to climate change, drawing from psychology, social psychology and sociology. On the whole, the widely presumed links between public access to information on climate change and levels of concern and action are not supported. The paper’s key findings emphasize the presence of negative emotions in conjunction with global warming (fear, guilt, and helplessness), and the process of emotion management and cultural norms in the construction of a social reality in which climate change is held at arms length. Barriers in responding to climate change are placed into three broad categories: 1) psychological and conceptual; 2) social and cultural; and 3) structural (political economy). The author provides policy considerations and summarizes the policy implications of both psychological and conceptual barriers, and social and cultural barriers. An annotated bibliography is included.
2012-11-28: On Monday last, 26 November 2012 … Fire broke out at a Sheltered Workshop for People with Activity Limitations, located in the small municipality of Titisee-Neustadt, south-western Germany … not too far from the borders of France and Switzerland. It was approximately 14.00 hrs in the afternoon … in broad daylight.
German news reports put the death toll at 14 People, including 1 Carer … with 10 People injured.
News reports also state that it took 2 Hours for Firefighters to bring this incident under control. At the time that Photograph 1, below, was taken … smoke had spread throughout a major part of the building.
Viewers should look closely at the top of the external staircase … then, ask yourselves how any person with an activity limitation can be safely rescued, or assisted to evacuate, by means of a ladder (obscured, at the end of the building on the left) … and, finally, notice the positioning of fire hoses on the ground and on the staircase … some of the many issues which have been discussed extensively here before …
2005 NIST(USA) Final Report on 9-11 World Trade Center 1 & 2 Tower Collapses
– Recommendation #17b –
To the degree possible, people with activity limitations should be provided with a means for self-evacuation in the event of a building emergency. Current strategies (and law) generally require these people to shelter-in-place and await assistance. New procedures, which provide redundancy in the event that the fire warden system or co-worker assistance (e.g. the buddy system) fail, should consider full building evacuation, and may include use of fire-protected and structurally hardened elevators, motorized evacuation technology, and dedicated communication technologies.
At the heart of the impressive show of fire fighting equipment and technology … and the usual reassuring statements by local officials and other people in authority after the event … there is an equally impressive lie …
Current Building Codes and Regulations, Fire Safety Standards, Building Design Practices, and Building Management Procedures … do not seriously consider the safety of People with Activity Limitations … not properly – not adequately – not even INadequately. Tokenism is the best offer available in just a few European countries.
According to Spiegel OnLine International …
The rescue was difficult because some people panicked, said Local Fire Chief Alexander Widmaier. “We are dealing here with people who naturally do not respond rationally”, he said.
IF this is an accurate news report, and bearing in mind that it is also a translation … I SAY …
Let us be generous and kind … Local Fire Chief Alexander Widmaier has NO awareness or understanding of People with Activity Limitations and the daily challenges they face in moving around and using a built environment which is inaccessible and unsafe.
According to AFP OnLine …
Gotthard Benitz, of the Titisee-Neustadt fire service, told AFP earlier that the fire began on the ground floor of the building which also had a basement and an upper floor.
“The victims were all on the same floor where the fire was”, he said adding this was the only area to have sustained fire damage and the stairwell had remained smoke-free meaning those on the other two floors had been able to use it.
He also said firefighters were prepared for dealing with an emergency at the workshop as practice fire alarms were regularly carried out there, with the last one having been last year.
The head of Caritas in Germany, Peter Neher, told ZDF public television that emergency practice drills were done regularly.
IF this is an accurate news report, and bearing in mind that it is also a translation … I SAY …
Gotthard Benitz should also look at the top of the external staircase in Photograph 1 above. IF there are no circulation hazards, e.g. ice, or obstacles, e.g. fire hoses … able-bodied people can easily go up or down a staircase … people who use wheelchairs or other mobility-aid devices cannot.
In their respective positions of responsibility … Gotthard Benitz and Peter Neher should both understand that all building occupants must be facilitated in acquiring the skill of evacuation to a ‘place of safety’, by way of a safe and accessible route. An emergency practice drill, although carried out regularly once a year … is ENTIRELY inadequate … and will achieve Very Little.
Skill: The ability of a person – resulting from training and regular practice – to carry out complex, well-organized patterns of behaviour efficiently and adaptively, in order to achieve some end or goal.
Standard fire evacuation training and practice drill procedures must be adapted to the individual-specific abilities of People with Activity Limitations.
BUT … the new International Standard ISO 21542 is a very small step in the right direction. See yesterday’s post.
This situation will only improve to a significant degree, however, when People with Activity Limitations, and their Representative Organizations, begin to act decisively, in unison, and with serious intent …
Self-Protection from Fire in Buildings – Personal Check List for People with Activity Limitations
1. Upgrade ‘My’ understanding of Accessibility …
Ease of independent approach, entry, egress, evacuation and/or use of a building and its services and facilities, by all of the building’s potential users – with an assurance of individual Health, Safety and Welfare during the course of those activities ;
2. Be assertive (not aggressive) with regard to ‘My’ own self-protection in emergency situations ;
3. Concerning ‘My’ safety … demand that Building Management actively engages in Meaningful Consultation – and receives your Informed Consent ;
4. Become familiar with the Fire Defence Plan for the building, and know ‘My’ part well ;
5. Practice – practice – practice … become skilled in evacuation to a Place of Safety ;
6. Become involved, and participate directly in the Building’s Safety Procedures.
Self-Protection from Fire in Buildings – Must-Do List for Representative Organizations & Groups
1. Upgrade ‘Our’ understanding of Accessibility in a Social Context, its Current Vocabulary, and its Complexity … groups of individuals wish to socialize together … this is now, afterall, a recognised human and social right !
Ease of independent approach, entry, egress, evacuation and/or use of a building and its services and facilities, by all of the building’s potential users – with an assurance of individual Health, Safety and Welfare, and group Wellbeing, during the course of those activities ;
2. Be assertive (and aggressive) with regard to the availability of proper Data and Statistics – we must clearly identify ‘Our’ problem with the many restrictions placed on our participation in local communities ;
3. Produce a working statement of an Individual’s Rights – on 1 Page (!) ;
4. Issue clear guidelines on Reliable Advocacy ;
5. Become involved, and participate directly in the improvement of Building Codes and Regulations, Fire Safety Standards, Building Design Practices, and Building Management Procedures ;
6. Demand resources to Monitor ‘Effective’ Implementation … and Target Relevant and ‘Practical’ Research.
2012-04-21: The context for considering and properly implementing Accessibility-for-All has changed … changed utterly … but some old problems persist, and stubbornly remain …
NEW INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT
A. At the time of writing, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) has been ratified by 111 Countries and the European Union.
Concerning Accessibility of the Built Environment … UN CRPD Preamble Paragraph (g), and Articles 9 – 11 – 12 are the most immediately relevant. These texts can be easily found elsewhere on this BLOG … please use the ‘search’ facility at the top, right-hand corner of the WebPage.
With the innovative, and internationally accepted, understanding of ‘Accessibility’ – as distinct from ‘Access’ – contained in ISO 21542 : 2011 … the concept meaning: approach and entry to a building, circulation within and use of all the building’s facilities, egress from and removal from the building’s vicinity during normal circumstances, or evacuation in the event of an emergency and movement – via a safe and accessible route – to a place of safety which is remote from the building … it is now possible to deal with Fire Evacuation of Buildings through Article 9 (Accessibility) of the UN CRPD, where it is more in scale … more at home, so to speak … rather than through Article 11 (Situations of Risk & Humanitarian Emergencies), which had to be the case before.
B.ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’ … is the important new International Standard mentioned above. It was published in December 2011.
Ireland has no National Standard (or Code of Practice) on Accessibility. So, in the absence of an appropriate Harmonized European Standard, ISO 21542 must take precedence over the National Standards of any other European Union Member State.
Here, however, there is a very large fly in the ointment … the guidance text in the 2010 Technical Guidance Document M has been ‘lifted’, almost en masse, from a British National Standard on ‘Access’ … not ‘Accessibility’. And this flawed process has imported some serious errors into Irish Accessibility Design and Construction Practice … despite my warnings to the relevant authorities. Please refer back to this post , dated 2009-06-14.
Scope of ISO 21542 : 2011
ISO 21542:2011 specifies a range of requirements and recommendations for many of the elements of construction, assemblies, components and fittings which comprise the built environment. These requirements relate to the constructional aspects of access to buildings, to circulation within buildings, to egress from buildings in the normal course of events and evacuation in the event of an emergency. It also deals with aspects of accessibility management in buildings.
ISO 21542:2011 contains provisions with respect to features in the external environment directly concerned with access to a building or group of buildings from the edge of the relevant site boundary or between such groups of buildings within a common site. It does not deal with those elements of the external environment, such as public open spaces, whose function is self-contained and unrelated to the use of one specific building, nor does it deal with single family dwellings, other than those circulation spaces and fittings that are common to two or more such dwellings.
C. Of direct commercial interest within the European Union (and in any countries outside the EU who wish to trade with the EU and the European Economic Area) … Accessibility-Related Construction Products are now included in the framework of the (relatively) new European Union Regulation No.305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 9 March 2011, laying down Harmonized Conditions for the Marketing of Construction Products and Repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC. [The old EU Directive 89/106/EEC has been repealed … it is finished, it is gone, it is no more ! There will, however, be a suitable transition period from old to new.]
Construction Product (EU Reg.305/2011) means any product or kit which is produced and placed on the market for incorporation in a permanent manner in construction works or parts thereof and the performance of which has an effect on the performance of the construction works with respect to the basic requirements for construction works.
Construction Works (EU Reg.305/2011) means buildings and civil engineering works.
Basic Requirement for Construction Works No. 4 in Annex I of the new EU Regulation 305/2011, states the following …
Safety and Accessibility in Use
The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that they do not present unacceptable risks of accidents or damage in service or in operation such as slipping, falling, collision, burns, electrocution, injury from explosion and burglaries. In particular, construction works must be designed and built taking into consideration accessibility and use for disabled persons.
This is a suitable location for ‘Accessibility’ in Annex I … intimately connected to ‘Safety in Use’. However, there is one potential drawback. Specifying the level of safety in an EU Member State is the sole responsibility of the Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s) in that Member State.
An Accessible Building is a Safer Building … but a Safe Building is not necessarily ‘Accessible’. ‘Accessibility’ is a completely different concept to ‘Safety’. EU Member States have no basis in EU Law … no justification whatever … for arbitrarily deciding on which level of ‘Accessibility’ is appropriate within their territories !
SAME OLD PROBLEMS
With all of this New International Context on Accessibility finally in place … I continue to encounter the same old problems …
1.Bad Product Design
An enormous quantity of cheap, atrociously designed … you could almost use the word ‘ugly’ … Accessibility-Related Construction Products are imported every year into Ireland, from Britain. This is one good reason, although not a very satisfactory reason, why architects hate ‘accessibility’ in buildings. Building users notice fittings and fixtures … and if the fittings and fixtures are ugly … the building is ugly ! But occupational therapists, for example, are also specifying these types of products every day of the week here.
This has got to stop. Proper attention must be paid to Good Design of Accessibility-Related Construction Products. An Accessible Building does not have to look like a Hospital Ward ! And Good Design does not have to mean ‘expensive’ !!
I have seen many well designed Accessibility-Related Construction Products, available in the EU marketplace, which have been manufactured in countries such as France, Germany, Italy, and China.
Why can we not access these products in Ireland ??
2.No Product Approval
The National Building Regulations/Codes of EU Member States … and all EU Safety at Work legislation … demand that building products and systems must be properly shown to be ‘fit for their intended use in the location of use’. End of story … very simple ! Regrettably, few people take any notice of this legal requirement.
Late last year, however, I encountered a Chinese Company which manufactured some nicely designed Accessibility-Related Construction Products. I suggested to one of their sales personnel that, in order to place their products on the market anywhere in the European Union (or the European Economic Area) … there was an urgent need to update their existing ‘CE Mark’ Product Approval Documentation. When I checked more closely, this Documentation was dubious. I then suggested that they should place a correct, up-to-date and relevant CE Mark on their construction products … as a matter of priority. And I received the following reply …
” i’d like to suggest that maybe you can pay for the cost to do this CE, and after you place orders in our factory, we promise return that back to you, and if you like, maybe you can act as our agency in Ireland, will you ? “
[ The sum of money being discussed here was €1,000.]
This proposal was off-the-wall, as we say here in Ireland. But, I found it impossible to get annoyed … because this strange and weird understanding of the CE Mark, particularly in relation to Accessibility-Related Construction Products, is rife among European Manufacturers also … and European Notified Bodies. How crazy is that ?
Perhaps my most unusual experience, back in the mid-1990’s, was having to explain to a Manager in a TÜV Laboratory, in Germany, that a Full Test Report must be issued to a Test Sponsor … after the test(s) has/have been completed. This task required two to three hours of heated discussion !
And … in the absence of any reference to ‘Accessibility’ in the now repealed EU Directive 89/106/EEC … I have encountered some European Manufacturers of Accessibility-Related Construction Products … who, being fully aware of the value of a CE Mark, have used the backdoor method of the EU Medical Devices Directive in order to obtain a CE Mark. And these were definitely not medical devices !
There is no effective control over the CE Marking of Construction Products within the European Union. This is no reason to ignore the system … or to abuse the system.
However … if many more people paid attention to the legal requirement, and necessity, of Proper Product Approval and the CE Marking of Accessibility-Related Construction Products … and the professional duty and responsibility to check that compliance/conformity is properly shown … we would have a more Accessible and much Safer Built Environment !!!
On Thursday evening, 1st December 2011, at 19.00 hrs … in the Dublin Institute of Technology … I will present anIABSE-Ireland Sponsored Lecture on the subject:‘Sustainable Fire Engineering IS THE FUTURE !’.
This Presentation has been in continuous development across a snaking international path … Dubayy (UAE) in 2008 … Lund (Sweden) and Bengaluru (India) in 2009 … Dilli (India), Zurich (Switzerland) and Dublin (Ireland) in 2010 … Paris (France), the IFE’s International Fire Conference in Cardiff (Wales) and the ASFP-Ireland Fire Seminar in 2011 … and on 1 December next, in Dublin, I will be introducing some tough new realities for fire engineering generally … not just in Ireland …
IABSE Irish National Group Sponsored Lecture
Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton Street – Michael O’Donnell Room (259)
The aim of Sustainable Fire Engineering is to realize a safe and sustainable built environment.
Responding ethically, in built and/or wrought form, to the still evolving concept of sustainable human and social development … a principal objective of Sustainable Fire Engineering is to design for maximum credible fire and user scenarios … in order to maintain a proper and satisfactory level of fire safety and protection over the full life cycle of, for example, a building … and for a Sustainable Building, that life cycle is 100 years minimum.
Sustainable Fire Engineering must, therefore, be ‘reliability-based’ & ‘person-centred’.
This presentation will examine the authentic language and meaning of sustainability … and will then track how this impacts on the professional practice of fire engineering. Special mention will be made of Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse.
See you all there ! And I will be looking forward to a lot of challenging feedback on the night !!