The majority of fires occur in houses, and virtually all are avoidable. We could safeguard thousands of people across Europe from fire with little effort. The European Fire Safety Alliance is a non-profit organisation of fire specialists that strives to reduce fire hazards and foster interdisciplinary collaboration. The European Fire Safety Week seek to increase awareness of the problem while also sharing research and evidence.
Quentin de Hults made an excellent recap of the EU Fire Safety Week #EUFSW22. Safe and ready electrical installations are key to enabling a successful rollout of innovative solutions, such as PV and vehicle chargers; but also and mainly, to address energy poverty.
The organisers invited me to a panel focusing on energy poverty and fire safety, with an insightful study from the Forum for European Electrical Domestic Safety. It will be followed up to combine efforts of energy poverty and fire safety professionals for safe and decent housing.
I learned a lot about fire safety during those days. For example, 30% of domestic fires have an electrical source; and almost half of EU dwellings (132 million) have obsolete installations!
But more worrisome, many countries do not require regular inspections and upgrades of the electrical installations. And of course, the most vulnerable and people living in energy poverty are way more likely to be exposed to domestic fires.
In my work, I’ve noticed how important it is to engage with many different actors with complementary expertise to build safety nets for vulnerable people. Firefighters are definitely among them. Those referral networks provide more holistic solutions to ensure that people can get effective help when problems go beyond issues directly connected to energy poverty.
I’m now convinced that EU policymakers must include fire safety provisions in the new EPBD, such as smoke detectors. The technology is mature, and the tools are relatively inexpensive. And they save lives!
And of course, the issue is pressing not only in Europe but also in developing countries: electricity access and high safety standards are urgent for the health and well-being of people everywhere. Did you know that 3 billion people worldwide do not have access to modern energy sources for cooking and heating their homes, and 3.8 million people, mostly women and children, die each year from air pollution?
Like enforcement and energy access, addressing fire safety is a matter of energy justice.
Let’s be bold and bring an international alliance to #COP next year on right enforcement, air quality, quality housing, clean cooking, disconnection ban and fire safety, engaging all stakeholders. It would build trust and resilience in the fight against climate change.
Congrats again to the organisers, and thank you for having me!