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Protection of the Natural Environment



Fire Engineering Design Context & Legal Base in Europe


Environmental Impact
Any effect caused by a given activity on the environment, including human health and safety (and welfare), flora, fauna, soil, air, water, (and especially representative samples of natural ecosystems), climate, landscape and historical monuments or other physical structures or the interactions among these factors ; it also includes effects on cultural heritage or socio-economic conditions resulting from alterations to those factors.
1994 Energy Charter Treaty (EU)
and 1972 Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment (UN)

 


The 'Precautionary Principle'
(A Working Legal Concept in the European Union)

Where there is uncertainty as to the existence or extent of risks of serious or irreversible damage to the environment, or injury to human health, adequate protective measures must be taken without having to wait until the reality and seriousness of those risks become fully apparent.

 


Relevant Performance Indicator

To advance the principle of sustainable development , and in order to provide a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment ~ by the year 2010, every new building shall be designed, constructed and managed so as to ensure the least adverse environmental impact in the event of fire.

[ Underlined text is a direct quotation from the 1997 E.U. Amsterdam Treaty (97/C 340/01) ]


 

Fire Training & Education

At the very least, an appropriate module on 'environmental protection' should now be incorporated into all levels of education and training courses on fire safety, protection and engineering.

Technical Guidance Note 95 /104 (a)
Competent Persons
(Fire Safety Design & Engineering)

Click here to Download PDF

(PDF File, 69kb)




See Principle 18 of the European Charter on Sustainable Design & Construction.

European Charter 2000 Update - Presented at the Sustainable Building 2000 International Conference in Maastricht, The Netherlands
22nd - 25th October, 2000


Click Here to Download PDF
(PDF File, 105kb)

 

 





Fire Suppression & Halon Replacement

The following information links indicate the precise international position with regard to the prohibition on the manufacture of halons, and restrictions concerning the use of replacements ........




European Union

Regulation (EC) No 2037/2000 of 29th June 2000
on
Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

(PDF File, 144kb)

Notice to Importers Notice to Exporters
EU Reg 2037/2000
(PDF File, 120kb)
EU Reg 2037/2000
(PDF File, 44kb)

 

 

United States Environmental Protection Agency
Glossary of Terms - Global Warming (and Ozone Depletion)

United States Environmental Protection Agency
Questions and Answers on Halons & Their Substitutes

 




Contaminated Fire Scene Water Storage and Treatment




The following must be included in the general description of 'contaminated fire scene water' ........

(a)
Water (with / without additives) and any other liquid in portable fire extinguishers used during a fire incident ;
(b)
Water (with / without additives) and any other liquid used for the purposes of fire suppression, e.g. sprinklers ;
(c)
Water (with / without additives) and any other liquid used for the purposes of firefighting ;
(d)
Water (with / without additives) and any other liquid used for the purposes of cooling other adjacent buildings or structures during a fire, or the remnants of the 'fire building' after a fire has been extinguished ;
(e)
Likely rainfall in the vicinity of the 'fire building' - during and after the fire - calculated on the basis of a 50 year return period ;
(f)
Unless shown not to be contaminated - water (with / without additives) and any other liquid run-off from surfaces, hard or soft, in the vicinity of a 'fire building' ;
(g)
'Fire scene water', stored on site from a previous fire, which has not been properly tested and treated ;
(h)
Unless shown not to be contaminated - water (with / without additives) and any other liquid used in the testing / commissioning of a fire protection system ;
(i)
A suitable safety factor.



Some Terms Necessary for 'Contaminated Fire Scene Water' Calculations

Ignition : The commencement of a sustained process of combustion.
Fire Control : All measures, minimizing harmful environmental impacts, necessary to direct, restrict, suppress and terminate the spread of fire in a building.
Fire Extinguishment : All measures, minimizing harmful environmental impacts, necessary to quench and effectively put out a fire within a building and/or its immediate surroundings.
Cooling Phase of a Fire : That period, following 'fire extinguishment', during which the remnants of a 'fire building' cool down and return to ambient temperature.
Fire Building : The building of fire origin.

 

 




Calculating the Volume of 'Contaminated Fire Scene Water'

The duration of a fire incident lasts from the time of Ignition to the end of the Cooling Phase of a Fire .

If a building is located in a Seismic Zone, or in an area where there are likely to be hurricanes or tornadoes, special consideration must be given to the design, construction and protection of 'contaminated fire scene water' handling and storage facilities on site.



 

 


Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
of Fire Safety Related Products, Components & Systems


Life Cycle Assessment
(EN ISO 14040) is defined as the 'compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product (and/or service) system throughout its life cycle'.


One other definition from the 1994 European Energy Charter Treaty is useful in fleshing out our understanding of LCA .......

Energy Cycle : The entire energy chain, including activities relating to prospecting for, exploration, production, conversion, storage, transport, distribution and consumption of the various forms of energy, and the treatment and disposal of wastes, as well as the decommissioning, cessation or closure of these activities, minimizing harmful environmental impacts.


Life Cycle Inventory Analysis (EN ISO 14040) is then that 'phase of life cycle assessment involving the compilation and quantification of inputs and outputs, for a given product (and/or service) system throughout its life cycle'.

Since there are so many unknowns, it is essential to include statements of measurement and calculation uncertainty at appropriate stages in the analysis .


Under the Requirements and Working Rules of CEN (European Committee for Standardization), EN ISO 14040 : Environmental Management - Life Cycle Assessment - Principles and Framework  should now be the national standard in most European countries, with any other conflicting national standards or parts of national standards having been removed.


Life Cycle
Analysis of fire safety related products and systems is but a small part of a much larger picture concerning a sustainable approach to the planning, design and construction of the 'built environment'.

See  Sustainable Human and Social Development .

 

 




Fires in
Municipal, Hazardous & Industrial Landfill Waste Sites

Landfilling of municipal, construction, hazardous and other industrial waste is a controversial subject throughout Europe. Stringent European Union legislation exists to deal with the issue. However, operation of this legislation at national, regional and local levels may not always be adequate.

Householders and business owners generally do not support the insertion and/or development of landfill sites in their own locality due to reasonable fears concerning noxious fumes, vermin infestation, health and environmental impacts, and depreciation of property values.

Although relatively uncommon, fires in landfill waste sites are ongoing, complex problems which have existed for decades. Fires receive substantial media attention when they do occur, and also have the potential to become politically and commercially very damaging. Landfill fires can cause serious harm to the environment, and injury to public health, when toxic pollutants are released into the air, water and soil.

See the 'Precautionary Principle' - a working legal concept in the E.U.

Landfill waste fires are particularly challenging for Fire Services. A large fire normally requires numerous personnel and a significant amount of time before it can be contained and controlled. This places a strain on the resources of a local authority or jurisdiction, especially one dependent on volunteer staffing.

Local politicians, landfill waste site operators, members of the Fire Services, and community residents should learn as much as possible from past experiences in order to prevent and mitigate future landfill fires.

May 2002
US Fire Administration - Federal Emergency Management Agency

Landfill Fires - Their Magnitude, Characteristics and Mitigation

Click Here to Download PDF
(PDF File, 584kb)

 

 

 



Fire & Sustainable Development



February 2006 - White Paper
US California Climate Change Center

Fire & Sustainability:
Considerations for California's
Altered Future Climate

Prepared by: Max A. Moritz & Scott L. Stephens
University of California, Berkeley

Click Here to Download PDF
(PDF File, 184kb)

 



 



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