By David Reed, UT EditorGuildford, UK -A combination of fire safety regulations for furniture and smoke-alarm promotion could save 850 lives throughout Europe every year, according to a recent study. In addition, the move could avoid some €3600 million (over $4500 million) of costs every year from residential fires throughout the European Union’s 25 Member States, researchers at the University of Surrey claim.The report, International fire statistics and the potential benefits of fire counter-measures, updates a previous one on the impact of the UK’s furniture fire safety regulations, enacted in 1988. It analyses changes in smoking in the population as well as in the installation of fire alarms in domestic buildings before drawing the above conclusions.While the incidence of smoking in the population has remained “reasonably constant,” the installation of fire alarms in domestic buildings has soared, the researchers say. Smoke alarms were virtually absent from UK homes in 1988, when the regulations were introduced, but today it is estimated that they are present in 80 percent of homes with a 25 percent fire-warning effectiveness, says the report, which was compiled by Prof. Geoffrey Stevens and colleagues in the Polymer research centre of the University of Surrey, with P. Williams, Department of Mathematics and Statistics.This figure is close to smoke alarm penetration levels in the USA, the report adds.Further, the researchers say, “up to 50 percent of the post-1988 benefit in reduced fire impacts could possibly be ascribed to the presence of smoke alarms.” The other half, they add, can be ascribed to the introduction of fire-safe furniture.The UK is the only country in Europe to require domestic and office furniture to be “fire safe,” the announcement points out, adding that the study looks at the impacts of the 1988 legislation which introduced mandatory minimum fire safety standards. The report uses fire statistics from the UK-including statistics for smoking habits and fire alarm installation-as well as fire statistics data from the USA, the Geneva Association (world fire statistics), Ireland, Norway and Denmark, to draw its conclusions.”
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