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FIRE SAFETY AS THE STANDARD IN VISUAL COMMUNICATION

Safety first. This ought to be the motto of each and every company. Unfortunately, safety is not always given the priority it deserves. The question of fire safety in particular is one that taken too lightly, even in the world of visual communication. I would like to see a better awareness of the importance of fire-resistant materials in every sector and industry.

The square metre price is under pressure in the crowded visuals market. Many companies want to buy display materials as cheaply as possible. This is just one reason for them not to take fire safety into consideration when buying a product. This is a shame and dangerous too. You can't put a price on safety: that's what I say. Having said this, suppliers are responding to this situation by offering their products at low prices, without fire-safe characteristics. Sometimes, materials are even sold as fireproof when actually they are not. Suppliers are taking a real risk by doing this.

FIRE-RETARDANT MATERIALS 

To make products like banners, canvases, flags and floor coverings fire-retardant, they need to be treated. Impregnation is the most popular method used. This is relatively simple to do for many products. It should be remembered though that if a product features printing, the ink used must be fire-retardant too if you want to make the overall product safe. Incidentally, the visual result will be the same, impregnated or not. Fire safety plays a role for materials intended for both indoor and outdoor use. Examples of indoor applications are the retail displays used in stores and exhibition stands. Outdoor applications include the banners, flags and canvases that are hung up at event sites. There are no differences between one industry and another. Legislation is the same almost everywhere and materials have multiple applications. Rules are stricter here and there and where this is the situation, suppliers are required to meet more requirements than would usually be the case. This would apply for Van Straaten, for example, if it wanted to supply products to international airports.

NO SAFETY CONCESSIONS 

Although fire-resistant and fire-proof materials will not prevent a fire from breaking out, they will ensure that a fire spreads less quickly, creating more time to bring people to safety and put out the fire. The government imposes fire-safety requirements on buildings, including those used in the hospitality and retail industries. However, companies are expected to share some of the responsibility themselves too. The choices made are often budget-dependent; this is particularly the case where businesses are small. It may be true that making materials fire-resistant increases the price by 20 %, but is it actually possible to put a price on safety?

I believe that no concessions should be made where the safety of people is concerned. This is why we ensure that all of our products are fire-resistant. Most of our materials are B1 or M1 certified. This is the highest level of certification possible and is issued by an independent company that tests our materials too. We always recommend that clients opt for the fire-safe version of a product; we do not present this as an option only when requested explicitly by a client.

This theme is far higher on the agenda in other countries like the United States. In this country, all materials have to be certified and is a factor that is always taken into consideration when doing business there. This is the level achieved by Van Straaten and the one towards which the rest of the Netherlands will need to progress. Fire safety as the standard.

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Niels van Straaten

NIELS VAN STRAATEN

DIRECTOR, VAN STRAATEN LET'S IMPRESS

"Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful."

Joshua J. Marine