Accidental fire impacts society in obvious ways, such as destroying or contaminating parts of the built and natural environments, and in more subtle ways, such as displacing people and disrupting the economy. There is much to learn about how to optimise efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of fire in a balanced and responsible manner.
The consequences of unwanted fire range from atmospheric (smoke), aquatic and terrestrial contamination (fire water run-off) to loss of material, jobs and homes. When considering the need to replace burned objects in the built environment, fire can impose a very large economic burden on society, which is not always shared equitably by all parts of society.
State of the art
Agenda 2030 is driving interest in finding sustainable solutions to the problem of unwanted fire. Sustainability of buildings, i.e., finding the balance between “green” buildings while providing adequate fire protection, is currently an active international research area. There are tools available online to help provide answers to some aspects of sustainability, but with few exceptions they are not focused on fire. ISO/TC 92/SC 3 “Fire threat to people and environment” provides standards documents that indirectly address some of the sustainability issues of unwanted fire.
Starting with in-house competence in lifecycle assessment (LCA), lifecycle costing (LCC), environmental risk assessment (ERA), which is focused on fire and we will expand our expertise through collaborations both internal and external to RISE.
At RISE Societal Safety, several research projects have been conducted that target some aspects of sustainability and fire. For example, RISE contributed either environmental or economic/ environmental assessments to:
the FP7 DEROCA project, which developed a novel method of formulating flame retarded thermoplastics loaded with carbon nanotubes,
the H2020 POLYGRAPH project, which developed new thermosetting plastics loaded with graphene-based materials,
the EIT Raw Materials WAPOL project, which developed flame retarded plastics for the automotive industry using industrial waste,
the Brandforsk/NFPA project ENVECO, in which a spreadsheet-based tool was created that estimates the environmental and economic impacts of warehouse fires,
the Brandforsk/NFPA project FIRE IMPACT tool, which extended the ENVECO tool to include vehicle and enclosure fires,
the MSB project M-KURS, which developed an environemntal course for the rescue service and made the FIRE IMPACT tool more accessible to Swedish users,
the H2020 LASHFIRE project, an ongoing project that aims to improve the fire safety conditions on board ro-ro cargo, ro-pax, and vehicle carrier ships.
Stakeholders such as authorities, first responders, and fire protection engineers are increasingly finding themselves responsible for providing sustainable solutions to handle the consequences of fire. Many of these stakeholders do not currently have the expertise to make optimal decisions when fire safety measures are designed or an incident occurs or to develop training programs, although this limitation is changing as priorities shift due to Agenda 2030.