The eight million homes in the Netherlands are by no means all equipped with smoke detectors on July 1, although it is mandatory from this date. Housing associations are facing supply problems and the Home Owners Association (VEH) expects more awareness campaigns are needed.
Housing organizations have been busy installing smoke detectors in tenants’ homes in recent months, but some catching up is needed. Due to the war in Ukraine, a large quantity suddenly could not be delivered. The collective purchase of 2.3 million homes, organized by the professional association Aedes, is now managed by another party.
“We are working very hard to get everything done,” says Monique de Geus of housing company Vestia, which rents 70,000 homes. “We couldn’t have foreseen this. We can now continue at full speed, but we probably won’t be able to do everything by July 1. By the end of this year, all our houses should be equipped with detectors smoke.”
Most fire victims are smoke inhalations
More than two years ago, the cabinet announced that there must be a smoke detector on each floor in the houses. “Most fire casualties are caused by smoke inhalation,” Secretary of State Raymond Knops said at the time. “Smoke detectors save lives.”
The Dutch Association of Insurers announced in October that the number of house fires had increased in 2020, possibly due to the increase in working from home. A study conducted by TNO in 2019 showed that thirteen lives could be saved each year if every home was equipped with a smoke detector. If there is a detector everywhere which – especially for the deaf and hard of hearing – produces a sound of 520 hertz, it could even save 22 lives a year.
“Not the obligation, but awareness must come first”
First of all, it is about raising awareness, explains John Kersemakers of Vereniging Eigen Huis. “We inform our members via our magazine and our website, where we especially want to make it clear that it is not about the obligation itself. You install a smoke detector for your own safety. However, I do not don’t understand that people are already flocking to the auto market.”
Kersemakers says he understands that too. “The government has not communicated very clearly that the obligation is imminent. This will probably increase with the campaigns from July 1st. But even now it is important to continue to remind. In the event of a fire, the victims are regularly behind the scenes found the front door, because they just couldn’t make it.”
Risks of smoke poisoning are life-size
“Nowadays, houses are well insulated,” says Kersemakers. “As a result, you see raging fires occurring less often. The fire receives little oxygen, so it stays internal and causes a lot of smoke development.” Firefighters point out that most fire victims are caused by smoke poisoning.
As July 1 approaches, information campaigns will not focus so much on the obligation, but above all on the correct location of a smoke detector and its maintenance. Because your house may have enough smoke detectors, but due to dust particles or aging, such a device may no longer do its job properly. That is why the Dutch fire brigade recommends the purchase of a new smoke detector every ten years, for example via the Dutch Burns Foundation.
If you also want to make sure the detector continues to do its job properly, vacuum it every month. Test it immediately via the standard button during this cleaning. “A useful time for this is the first Monday of the month at 12:00 p.m.,” advises interviewer Joost Ebus. “If the siren is tested nationwide, you will automatically be reminded to keep your own alarm in order.”
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