• Dirk Aschenbrenner calls for more work on fire prevention
  • Hannover/Germany. According to Dirk Aschenbrenner, president of the German Fire Protection Association (vfdb), the number of fires in Germany has increased alarmingly in recent years. The number of outbreaks rose from around 177,000 in 2006 to 194,000 in 2012. Fire losses have also increased as a direct consequence. The majority of fires occurred in the residential sector, which also claimed the largest number of lives.

    The whole topic will feature prominently at the upcoming INTERSCHUTZ 2015 (8 to 13 June in Hannover/Germany), said Aschenbrenner. The vfdb is one of the sponsoring partner for the worlds leading trade fair for fire prevention, disaster relief, rescue services, safety and security. "Despite all the progress that has been made in fire prevention, we have not succeeded in reducing the number of fire outbreaks in recent decades, admitted Aschenbrenner. On the contrary: there were a lot more fires at the start of the 21st century than at the start of the 20th century. Nowadays a growing number of fires are caused by such things as electrical faults, negligence or open fires. Traditional causes such as flying sparks and spontaneous combustion have virtually disappeared from the statistics, said the engineering graduate and head of the Dortmund fire service, citing a study carried out by the vfdb.

    He believes that more work needs to be done on developing effective and efficient methods of fire prevention in order to solve the problem. It is also vital to coordinate the efforts of all the different players involved. "That makes INTERSCHUTZ in Hannover an ideal place to raise awareness of these issues, because all the relevant organizations are represented here", notes Aschenbrenner. He argues that we urgently need to work on the underlying science and put the principles into practice. This would ensure that designers of buildings and construction materials, for example, would recognize and prioritize the needs of fire prevention at the development and planning phase for new processes and products. Statistical data and practical findings would be collected and evaluated, forming the basis for a comprehensive picture of the current situation with regard to fire prevention.

    In the TIBRO joint project funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (the German acronym stands for "tacticalstrategic innovative fire prevention using risk-based optimization"), several of the participating partners have already set themselves the goal of analysing Germany’s fire services, examining their future viability and making appropriate recommendations. The focus is on studying risk and developing an integrated system of fire services for Germany. Institutions collaborating on the project are the University of Wuppertal, the Otto von Guericke University, the Frankfurt am Main Fire Service, the Federal Institute of Materials Research and Testing and the vfdb.

    The president of the vfdb believes that scientific study and research can make a major contribution here: "We need more research into methods and processes for reducing the flammability and combustibility of consumer goods and domestic furnishings. We also need to develop concepts for improving the fire safety awareness of the population at large." But politicians and government also have a responsibility here. It would be a good idea, for example, to make instruction in fire prevention a requirement for day nurseries, schools, training centres, employers and local fire services, which have to act as facilitators here.