Skip to content

Press release

16 NOV 2020

World-wide fire safety standard recognised by the United Nations

The United Nations has voted for the first time to publish as a UN ECE standard a new globally consistent and internationally recognised approach to the fire safety of all buildings – both old and new – which RICS has helped shape as part of the International Fire Safety Standards (IFSS) Coalition.

The International Fire Safety Standard Common Principles (IFSS-CP) is an industry-led global response to criticism that differing or no requirements from countries across the world have put health and wellbeing of people at greater risk of death or injury from fire.

The unprecedented vote at the United Nations follows the launch of the standard on 5 October 2020 and presentation to the UN, and invites “representatives of national and local governments and stakeholders to apply the Common Principles to promote the safety of buildings” amid mounting public concern over the regulation and control of fire safety measures following a number of high-profile fires which resulted in lives being lost and property destroyed.

At present, the many contrasting approaches have resulted in significant variations in the design, approval, construction methods, products testing and operation of buildings – all of which vary the probability and outcome of fire depending on the regulatory area.  

The implementation of a new common approach to design, construction and building management aims to help restore public confidence in fire safety and ultimately underpin an improved quality of life that is in line with the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Gary Strong, Global Building Standards Director at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and chair of the IFSS Coalition, said:

“The UN’s endorsement of our approach to fire safety follows 2 years of hard work from those who make up our coalition – it’s a seminal moment for the public interest and for governments worldwide who want to keep their citizens safe”

“By ensuring a clear and consistent approach – which puts fire safety at the heart of buildings whether in Mumbai, Cairo or London - we can help save lives and drive down the risk of serious injury or death from devastating fires.”

The standard delivers a clear performance-based framework that applies to all stages of a building’s life cycle (from design, construction, in use, to change and eventual demolition), which can be defined as follows;

  • Prevention – Safeguarding against the outbreak of fire and/or limiting its effects.
  • Detection and Communication – Investigating and discovering of fire followed by informing occupants and the fire service.
  • Occupant Protection – Facilitating occupant avoidance of and escape from the effects of fire.
  • Containment – Limiting of fire and all its consequences to as small an area as possible.
  • Extinguishment – Suppressing of fire and protecting of the surrounding environment.



The IFSS coalition is a global organisation representing leading fire safety organisations from all four corners of the Globe, supported by the UN and World Bank. For a full list of its members visit:

Gary Strong acts as the chair of the global coalition and is Global Building Standards Director at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

We are RICS

Everything we do is designed to effect positive change in the built and natural environments.

Through our respected global standards, leading professional progression and our trusted data and insight, we promote and enforce the highest professional standards in the development and management of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure.

Our work with others provides a foundation for confident markets, pioneers better places to live and work and is a force for positive social impact.

Our Press Contacts

Members of our press team are on hand to help you with journalist queries