In concert with initiatives like the World Health Organization’s Decade of Healthy Ageing, the WHO Global Emergency and Trauma Care Initiative (GETI), the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the World Bank’s Building Regulation for Resilience Program, the Decade of Action for Fire Safety will help reduce the global impact of fire on people, businesses, communities, cultural heritage and the environment.

With an estimated 400 deaths and 19,000 injuries caused by fire each day, along with displacement of families and potentially long-term financial and emotional distress, the plan sets out a clear framework with actions that can drive much-needed change.

It sets out the scale and diversity of challenges around the world that need to be tackled. From informal settlements and poorly constructed homes and workplaces, poor regulation and understanding of risk, especially around the materials being used to build and insulate buildings to meet carbon reduction goals, through to the increasing burden of wildfires on countries and communities, the need for collaboration to share information, data insight and ideas internationally is needed now more than ever.

Role in the Decade of Action for Fire Safety

Closely aligned to the IFE’s own commitment to illuminate a fire safe world and as members of the IFSS coalition, we have committed to playing a key role in the Global Plan for a Decade of Action for Fire Safety with Hao-giang Tay, President of the IFE’s Malaysia Branch volunteering to chair the People Pillar of the action plan.

The plan’s ambition is underpinned by 15 objectives and 60 actions split into five pillars of activity: People, Products, Structures, Infrastructure, Communities.

The People Pillar that will be the focus of Hao-Gaing Tay’s work is centred on actions that can be implemented to help individuals and groups to:

  • Increase their understanding of fire
  • Learn what they can do to reduce their exposure to fire and flames
  • Reduce their vulnerability to unwanted fire if it occurs
  • Gain access to emergency medical care in the case of burns, smoke inhalation and other fire impacts to persons
  • Gain access to post-fire counselling and support services, and
  • Obtain just and fair settlements.

It will be taking an in-depth look at opportunities for:

  • Training and education for members of the public on the causes of fire and burns, the very rapid spread of fire and smoke, and safety and evacuation planning
  • Setting and enforcing higher criminal sentencing limits for those who disregard fire safety
  • Improving health and safety from wildland fire and fire effects
  • Improving post-fire care for victims of fire.

How these aims are achieved will involve extensive research and collaboration with different stakeholders around the world and we are excited to be leading this initiative.

Our own recently launched Human Factors SIG will have a lot to contribute to certain areas of investigation, especially when looking at hazards and risks within the context of the individuals, groups and communities of focus. This includes vulnerable population groups, such as the very young, the elderly and those with physical, mental or emotional impairments, as well as those living in informal construction or settlements.

The SIGs work will also examine attitudes to risk that will inform research into areas that could increase fire risk, such fire setting behaviours, smoking, outdoor fire pits or barbeques and storage and use of highly flammable fuels.

Human factors will also inform how local context and need must be understood before appropriate solutions can be developed. This approach will ensure initiatives are designed and targeted to meet the needs of specific communities so that they deliver a measurable impact in real world environments. These solutions my involve training, awareness campaigns and development of fire prevention and evacuation processes that are practical and workable in a range of scenarios.

Leveraging a Global Network of Expertise

As active members of the IFSS coalition, we are looking forward to helping realise its ambition to stabilise and reduce the forecast level of fatalities, injuries, economic cost and environmental impact of fire around the world within the next ten years.

The global benefits of fire risk reduction are significant. They include reduced human suffering, reduced losses to property and economies, reduced environmental impacts and reduced social inequity. This translates into safer and more resilient people, buildings and communities.

Through our well-established global network of members and branches, the IFE has a critical role to play in the sharing of knowledge and expertise, which will support the development of sustainable fire safety strategies and programmes, foster the use and enforcement of improved fire safety standards, build professional competency and expertise among all those tasked with dealing with fire and help drive the changes needed at a local level.

Our network of experts has sight of local challenges and the most pragmatic ways to enable change as well as access to potential solutions from around the world.