A workshop at the Nordic Fire Safety Days, initiated by pinfa, discussed trying to ensure that fire safety is included as a theme in the next EU R&D funding programme (FP9 “Horizon Europe”), which will follow Horizon2020. This programme is announced with a budget of around 100 billion € for 2021-2028. Chris Thornton, for pinfa, noted that the current EU R&D programme, Horizon2020, does not include fire safety, so that no large projects are funded in this area (although some related projects are funded under other themes, as SME projects, or under other EU actions such as LIFE). He proposed that the fire safety community (researchers, operators, industry) together define possible content for, and promote to the EU, a HorizonEurope “mission” (see below) on fire safety. He underlined the need for large-scale EU-level fire safety research to address today’s major challenges (esp. social inclusion and ageing population, new materials, smart cities, new energy and safe thermal insulation) and to ensure coherence of statistics, standards and fire safety information across the single market. Fanny Guay, Rockwool International, proposed the message of “fire resilience”, a wide approach integrating fire prevention and mitigation into urban planning, energy efficiency, insurance and property values, society changes and environmental impacts of fires. In particular, tomorrow’s cities, with increasing populations, higher buildings closer together, and faster building construction, pose new challenges for ensuring fire safety. Margaret McNamee, fire consultant, further underlined the need for fire research to integrate multiple themes: safety, environment, materials … She presented the concept of “missions” proposed for HorizonEurope, the EU’s next R&D funding programme 2021-2028 (see pinfa Newsletter n°89 and EU Mazzucato report, summarised here). “Missions” will mobilise R&D resources towards societal objectives, and will be cross-disciplinary across the different themes of HorizonEurope (safety, society, climate, industry …). A fire safety R&D “mission” would allow the EU to take a visible initiative, in the context of political pressure following the Grenfell fire, despite fire safety implementation being considered by Member States to be their prerogative.
A wide range of ideas for possible content and vision (slogan) for a fire safety research “mission” were put forward by participants and noted. Discussion with participants concluded:
- interest from a range of participants to promote the idea of a EU R&D programme “mission” on fire safety, and to propose content
- such a fire safety R&D “mission” should cover wide approaches (statistics, prevention, intervention, passive and active fire safety, fire safety engineering …) and link to other themes such as social, environment, energy, smart systems …
- fire safety should be presented positively, as a core element of resilience and as an enabler of progress and innovation (technologies, societal welfare, product safety …), rather than as an obstacle
- fire safety R&D is today needed to take account of new materials and fire loads, and to integrate fire resilience into new energy systems, sustainable and smart cities and buildings, climate change resilience (cf. wildfires)
- content can draw upon fire safety research orientations developed by e.g. Brandforsk Sweden (https://www.brandskyddsforeningen.se/forskning/), and will be discussed at the 3rd ESFSS European Symposium on Fire Safety Science, Nanyc France 12-14 September http://www.esfss2018.com/)
- the development of a fire safety “mission” proposal, and gathering support for this, will be useful even if this is not selected as one of the HorizonEurope “missions” by the EU, because this input should enable inclusion of fire safety in other HorizonEurope R&D funding (or in other “missions”)
The following actions were decided:
- Anne Dederichs (RISE) will collate and circulate ideas for content and vision of a fire safety mission from the meeting
- A number of participants agreed to participate in taking this forward.
Further input and support is invited, see below
Also, Margaret McNamee will continue the dialogue on input to the next framework program (Horizon Europe) in support of fire safety and security through the International Association of Fire Safety Science (IAFSS). Please contact her for more details on a coming IAFSS workshop (at 3rd ESFSS European Symposium on Fire Safety Science, Nanyc France 12-14 September http://www.esfss2018.com/) and position paper on this topic,