Carbon monoxide alarmFire safety experts, health specialists and firefighters have called on the European Union to take urgent action on fire smoke toxicity testing.

“Fire smoke contains a lethal cocktail of toxicants, yet there are no European regulations or testing protocols covering the smoke toxicity of construction materials,” said Professor Richard Hull, fire toxicity expert from the University of Central Lancashire, at a high-level meeting of fire safety experts organised by Fire Safe Europe, the European Fire Fighters Union Alliance and MEPs Pavel Poc and Christel Schaldemose.

Fires in European buildings cause over 4,000 deaths and 70,000 hospitalisations per year, and more than half of those deaths are caused not by the fire directly but by its smoke.

“Lives are being unnecessarily put at risk by failing to address this issue,” said Mr Poc. “The inhalation of fire smoke causes chronic long-term health problems and is the tragic cause of far too many deaths in building fires.” Mrs

Schaldemose added: “The mechanism is already in place to introduce smoke toxicity testing for construction materials, so it is an unprecedented opportunity for the EU to take coordinated action on this issue.”

Tommy Kjaer, European Fire Fighters Union Alliance, backed the move suggesting that "Europe’s politicians need to address this issue urgently" before it begins to put even more lives at risk.