Dr Nguyen's insights on developing a fire terminology glossary for building professionals

Faced with the consensus that fire safety data need to be collected more systematically and harmoniously in the European Union, the European Commission launched a study in September 2019 on “Closing data gaps and paving the way for Pan-European fire safety efforts”

One of the objectives is to “map the terminology used and the data collected by the EU Member States regarding fire events, and to propose a common terminology and a method to collect the necessary data in each EU Member State”.
As much as producing common terminology across EU countries is necessary today, it could be a challenge. 


To find out more on such an entreprise, we looked into the work of the Fire Performance and Facades Group of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), who has been focusing on a similar project at international level. Dr Kate Nguyen, who belongs to this group developing a fire terminology glossary for building professionals, shared with us her insights on the task in a dedicated webinar.


She started by stated that the literature review had emphasised a lack of fire safety knowledge in the building sector, adding that fostering common understanding between building professionals when it comes to fire terms was urgent. It is to address this gap that the CTBUH decided to develop a glossary of fire terminology. In Dr NGuyen’s word, one of the main preoccupations of the group was to produce a “convenient” document. Meaning that if this glossary was to offer a solution to an identified challenge, it had to be easily understandable across the sector and practical to use. Hence, plain English, clarity and reasonable length of the document were key.


After detailing the process followed in selecting the terms to include, Dr Nguyen confirmed that being faced with differences in practice in diverse countries was difficult. She added that the group tried to overcome this hurdle by, for instance, including a wide range of experts in the process and ensuring that the literature review gathered sources of various origins. 


Finally, when asked what important lessons from this experience should be kept in mind when working on such terminology at the EU level, she stated that to her, it was essential to include the whole of the professionals in such a project to clearly identify the problems faced. 


To find out more on the methodology used, challenges faced, and the potential aftermath of this project, we invite you to watch the webinar replay or reading its transcript here

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