The Future of Fire Detectors and Alarm Systems
IN A SUSTAINABLE - NET-ZERO WORLD
The fire industry faces an exciting journey ahead as it aligns with the vision of a sustainable, net-zero world.
Paving the Way to Sustainability
While the fire safety industry remains indispensable in safeguarding lives, buildings, and essential infrastructure crucial for the green transition, it's evident that the industry faces an exciting journey ahead as it aligns with the vision of a sustainable, net-zero world. Unlike some other sectors, the fire safety industry is just beginning to embrace the profound shift required to merge its vital safety role with environmental responsibility.
Some argue that fire detectors and alarm systems are inherently sustainable due to their critical role in protecting buildings, individuals, and infrastructure vital for a sustainable future. This alignment harmonises with broader sustainability objectives, particularly UN Sustainable Development Goal 11, which focuses on preserving sustainable cities and communities. It is also important to recognise the significant environmental impact of fires, primarily through carbon emissions. For instance, in the UK "accidental business fires" contribute to approximately 0.0027 MtCO2e (million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent) annually according to the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory. Without the swift response triggered by fire detectors and alarm systems, this carbon footprint would undoubtedly be much larger.
Apollo is actively driving substantial changes within the company and our product offerings to align with ambitious sustainability and net-zero targets. However, achieving sustainable fire detectors and alarm systems calls for a collective industry effort. As an industry we will need to increase knowledge and skills on sustainability topics and define common goals.
While risk assessments and BS5839 largely define the devices used, system design, as well as manufacturer and product choices, can significantly influence the carbon impact of fire detection and alarm systems. When striving for sustainable fire detectors and alarm systems, it's essential to consider the entire carbon footprint. This includes not just operational efficiency but also the embodied carbon from materials and production processes, as well as the indirect carbon caused by fire systems in cases such as false alarms.
Despite the importance of our role in protecting lives and green infrastructure, the industry is increasingly realising the importance of making these systems more sustainable. This is not only the responsible thing to do but has become essential in the face of intensifying climate change effects. Market demands, evolving legislation, green building practices, sustainability certifications, and a growing emphasis on carbon measurement in buildings compel us to take significant steps towards sustainability.
Many companies in the value chain are setting their sustainability goals, such as measuring the whole-life carbon of products and reducing average embodied carbon. So, the question before us is this: What will fire detectors and alarm systems look like in a greener, net-zero future? This journey will require upskilling within our industry to enhance our offering and understanding of sustainability and ensure our products and systems meet sustainability standards while avoiding the pitfalls of greenwashing.
The Future of Sustainability in the Industry
The journey toward sustainable fire detectors and alarm systems demands collective effort and collaboration throughout the entire value chain. To make meaningful progress, as an industry, we must establish common goals, requirements, a shared understanding, and a unified language regarding sustainability to avoid greenwashing and make real change.
This collective effort involves manufacturers, installers, specifiers, consultants, system integrators, construction companies, and building owners working together to drive change. Despite challenges in deciphering undefined requests and addressing issues like greenwashing, Apollo is leading meaningful change to meet sustainability and net-zero targets which are becoming more ambitious.
To drive a future where all fire detectors are more sustainable, proactive decisions for sustainability must be made at every level of the value chain. Together, the fire detection and alarm systems sector can ensure it doesn't lag behind in the transition toward a greener future.