Fire safety refers to precautions that are taken:
- to prevent or reduce the likelihood of a fire that may result in death, injury, or property damage
- to alert those in a structure to the presence of an uncontrolled fire in the event one occurs
- to better enable those threatened by a fire to survive in and evacuate from affected areas
- to reduce the damage caused by a fire
The cause of many of those who perish in fires in their own homes is smoke poisoning. The proper knowledge and fire protection equipment reduce the risk of injury or death in the event of fire.
This article will go into detail about what one needs to know about fire safety in the Norwegian home.
The basic requirements of fire safety equipment in each property are:
- 1 approved and working smoke detector
- 1 approved and working fire extinguisher
It is the owner of the property who has the sole responsibility of ensuring that the property is fitted with a minimum of one smoke detector and fire extinguisher. For properties with several floors, it is highly recommended to have these available on each floor.
It is mandatory for all properties to have at least one fire extinguisher. This can be in the form either of a fire hose (which must be able to reach all areas of the property) or a portable extinguisher (with a minimum effect of 21A). A building with several apartments can have a fire hose in a common area.
The equipment must be clearly visible, easily accessible and maintained regularly, and all residents of the property must be educated in how to use it.
All properties must have at least one approved smoke detector. If the property is large in size or spread over several levels, there should be several smoke detectors fitted and these should be connected in series so that they all go off at the same time if there is a fire in one area of the property.
The location of the smoke detector is very important in relation to how quickly it can detect smoke. Smoke detectors should be placed near stairwells and in escape routes, at the highest point of the ceiling and at least 50 centimetres from walls (always follow the installation instructions that follow the smoke detector to ensure it has been installed correctly). The smoke alarm must be clearly audible in all bedrooms even with shut doors.
The owner of the property is responsible for equipping the property with smoke detectors BUT it is the person using/living in the property that has the responsibility of testing the smoke detector (by pressing the test button) and changing the batteries.
The smoke detector should be tested at least once a month and especially after returning home from vacations, and the batteries should be changed at least once a year or when the smoke detector starts to give a low-battery beep.
In Case of Fire
If the fire is a small and containable one, adults and older children may try to extinguish the fire using a fire hose or fire extinguisher.
However, if the situation feels threatening, do not try to put out the fire. The most important thing is to save lives and call for help. Evacuate the property and call the fire department at 110. Always state the address where the fire is.
It is recommended to carry out regular fire drills with the family and if you live in a building with several properties, it might be useful to organise fire drills with your neighbours. Also be sure to have your neighbours’ contact details for convenience in contacting them in case of emergency.
It will be useful to agree on measures for how to alert others, call the fire department and evacuate the property. Practise these measures during the fire drills. Know all the available escape routes from your property.
Educate your children about fires and fire prevention, how to leave the property (know all the possible escape routes) and where to assemble after.
Tips on how to avoid a fire in your home
- Ensure that electrical systems are not overloaded which may result in hot wiring or connections, or failed components. Take note of this especially in the winter, when more electricity is used for heating.
- Switch off appliances when they are not in use, do not just put them in the standby mode.
- Always check for lit candles and fires and extinguish them before leaving the room or property.
- It is advisable to not smoke indoors.
- Clean the stove, oven and kitchen ventilator of grease, according to the frequency of use.
- Don’t attempt to cook or bake if you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs or are exhausted.
- Check the fuse box for burn marks or excessive heat.
- Ensure that lighters, matches and candles are out of children’s reach.
- Check that fireplace chimneys are properly and regularly cleaned. This is usually carried out by the fire department once every 4 years.
- If fuses in your property are hot to the touch or tend to blow often, they are overloaded. You should reduce your electricity consumption or spread the heat sources between more circuits.
- Electrical heaters must be directly connected to the socket – avoid the use of extension cords. Ensure that electrical heaters are not covered.
- Do not run dryers and washing machines overnight or if you are not home as they might malfunction.
- Movable heaters should only be used under supervision.
- Never store flammable liquids near ignition sources.
- Ensure stairways and exits are not obstructed.
- In the summer, be careful using a grill on a deck. Decks are flammable.
- If you have pets, be sure to check your electrical cords regularly in case they get chewed on or peed on.
It is the house owner’s responsibility and duty to check that the electrical system in the property is in accordance with the regulations and that it can take the load it is subjected to. If serious faults or damage are suspected, the house owner must disconnect relevant equipment/fuses and contact a registered electrician to repair and check the system.
As a tenant in the property, contact the house owner right away if you discover any faults in the electrical system.