This article reports on the
results of a survey conducted on behalf of European Chapters
Coordination Group (ECCG), which is a part of the Society of Fire
Protection Engineers (SFPE). The purpose is to identify the status of
Fire Safety Engineering (FSE) in Europe and to support the activities of
the ECCG. All European countries were invited to participate in the
survey. In total, responses were received from respondents representing
21 different countries within Europe. The questions cover a wide range
of subjects, from education and regulations to certification with the
intention of identifying the degree of FSE currently in use throughout
The term "fire safety engineering” has been used more commonly in Europe than "fire protection engineering” and will be used in this article as a synonym. Several definitions and questions in this article are based on a report about performance-based building regulatory systems.1 To successfully facilitate fire safety engineering on a national basis, several components are recognized as vital. These are:
- Qualified practitioners, a product of education, certification programs and other measures
- A legal and regulatory environment allowing for FSE, e.g., a performance-based building system
- Appropriate guidelines for the use of FSE
questions on the survey covered a wide range, including education,
regulations and certification. The respondents were experts in fire
safety in their respective countries. Countries that were represented in
the responses to the questionnaire included Belgium, Czech Republic,
Denmark, England and Wales, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland,
Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Slovenia,
Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The questions and their
responses are summarized in the remainder of this article.
APPLICATION OF FSE
Does the legal building regulatory system allow the application of FSE? Since when?
of the respondents answered positively to this question, with the
exception of two countries: Estonia, for which no response to this
question was entered and the Slovak Republic, which does not allow FSE.
Most notably, many big countries, such as Germany, France, Spain and
Italy, started allowing FSE only in the last decade. See Table 1.
|1975: Iceland||2004: Denmark, France, Slovenia|
|1985: England and Wales||2005: Scotland|
|1994: Belgium, Sweden||2006: Spain|
|1997: Finland, Norway||2007: Italy, Czech Republic|
|1998: Russia||2009: Portugal|
|2002: Germany, Switzerland||2011: Lithuania|
Table 1: Years When FSE was First Permitted
Are there guidelines for FSE that are used?
for FSE are required to be used in Iceland, Italy, Lithuania and
Sweden. In Iceland, the guidelines are under development.
Do national guidelines for the use of FSE exist (even if their use is not mandatory)?
response to this question was a little more mixed, with approximately
an even split. A summary of the responses is given in Table 2.
Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden
Belgium, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Portugal, Scotland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland
Table 2: Recognized Guidelines for FSE
status of these guideline documents (where they exist) varies. In a
number of countries, documents are under preparation or revision. For
example, in Spain at the time of the survey, a task force was being set
up to produce a guideline document.
What specific guidelines (including national) for FSE are used?
Specific guidelines in use in different countries are typically comprised of common international guidelines, such as the International Fire Engineering Guidelines (IFEG)2, ISO standards3 and the SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering4 and SFPE guidelines5. British standards6
are also used, both within and outside UK. In addition, a number of
countries publish and implement their own guidelines, which cover
various aspects of FSE.
FSE EDUCATION & CERTIFICATION
Are there requirements for the qualification of practitioners of FSE?
Norway and Sweden, a voluntary national approval system is in place. In
other countries, a combination of certification and education does
exist; however, in the majority of cases there is no mandatory
requirement for qualification of FSE practitioners. See Table 3.
Belgium, Denmark, England, Estonia, Lithuania, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Poland, Russia, Slovak Republic
Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovak Republic, Sweden
Czech Republic, France, Iceland, Norway
Table 3: Requirements for Qualification
Is there an education program for FSE professionals?
the majority of the responding countries, there are educational courses
on FSE available. See Figure 1. Available through universities, they
comprise either undergraduate or postgraduate level degrees. In
Scotland, a degree level course has been available at the University of
Edinburgh since 1974. Of the respondents to this question, this is the
earliest known degree course. In Poland and Sweden, the educational
programs have been in place for approximately 30 years. In other
countries, academic programs are more recent introductions.
Figure 1: Status of Different Types of Fire Safety Education in the Responding Countries
programs range from fire safety technology to fire safety engineering
at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Fire safety technology
education is focused on skills for application, installation, operation
and maintenance of built-in fire safety. Introductory mathematics and
science courses are included. Fire safety engineering education is
focused on skills for understanding and applying the concepts and
principles of fire safety science and engineering. It is geared toward
development of theoretical skills, consisting of courses on engineering
fundamentals and design, built on a foundation of mathematics and
science courses. These definitions are based on definitions listed in
Is there a certification program of FSE professionals?
a certification program exists in the countries noted in Table 4, there
is no formal requirement to achieve certification to practice. Despite
this, the level of certification varies, and not all applicants pass the
England, Finland, Poland, Sweden
Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland
Table 4: Countries with FSE certification
LEGAL AND BUILDING REGULATORY SYSTEM
Who promulgates the regulations?
all of the responding countries, promulgation of the regulations is
achieved at a national level, with varying levels of responsibility
being handled by regional and local governments. The structure of this
depends largely upon the regulatory framework of the country in
Who is responsible to verify compliance with the regulations?
basically all countries have stated that fire safety engineering is
allowed, the meaning of this varies. Verification responsibilities lie
heavily with the authorities in some countries. For example, while
Belgium has allowed FSE since 1994, it is still requiring approval by
the national authority. In other countries, licensed practitioners are
used. Countries such as Norway and Sweden are very liberal, with a large
degree of freedom for the practitioners. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Verification Responsibility Varies Where Several Countries Rely Mainly on Authorities
How are disputes resolved?
mechanism for resolution of conflicts varies by country – the most
common situation is decisions by the authorities having jurisdiction,
negotiations or by court cases. See Table 5.
the regulations apply to buildings, it is important to note that groups
and stakeholders bearing duties and responsibilities vary. The duty
holders are primarily the building owners, but some countries also put a
large responsibility on the design professionals. In several cases,
there are also multiple stakeholders.
companies are rarely, if ever, involved in the building process. Since
many countries primarily focus on life safety, this means that property
protection may not be taken into account during the design process
except in some rare cases.
Government Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)
Progression From AHJ Through Appeals to Courts
Belgium, England, Estonia, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia
Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Scotland, Spain
Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Sweden
England, Iceland, Scotland
England, Iceland, Scotland, Switzerland
Table 5: Resolution of Disputes
Michael Strömgren is with SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden.
- Meacham, B. (ed.) "Performance-Based Building Regulatory Systems – Principles and Experiences.” Inter-jurisdictional Regulatory Collaboration Committee, Canberra, Australia, 2010.
- International Fire Engineering Guidelines. Australian Building Codes Board, Canberra, Australia, 2005.
- ISO/TR 13387, Fire Safety Engineering, International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, 1999.
- Dinenno, P (ed.) SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering, 4th Edition, National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA, 2008.
- SFPE Engineering Guide to Performance-Based Fire Protection, 2nd Edition, National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA, 2007.
- BS 7974, Application of Fire Safety Engineering Principles to the Design of Buildings – Code of Practice. British Standards Institute, London, 2001.
- Recommendations for a Model Curriculum for a BS Degree in Fire Protection Engineering, Society of Fire Protection Engineers, Bethesda, MD, 2010.