Netherlands

Dutch Safety Board: fire safety requirements for furniture in the Netherlands insufficient | Inland

The Netherlands lags far behind other European countries when it comes to the fire safety of furniture. In various countries there are requirements for the fire safety of furniture, in the Netherlands none. And that while most furniture is filled with highly incendiary plastic foam.




This is the conclusion of the Dutch Safety Board in a report published today in response to the fatal flat fire in Arnhem on New Year’s Eve in 2020. A 39-year-old father and his 4-year-old son were killed. A second important conclusion is that there was only one available escape route, and that is where the fire raged. This made it impossible for residents to flee their homes. The safety of residential buildings therefore needs to be improved, according to the OVV.

The fire started in a sofa that was illegally parked in the entrance hall of the flat. It had been left there by an apartment dweller as rubbish. The entire stairwell was full of smoke and the entrance to the flat burned out. A family with young children, who had just conveyed New Year’s wishes to the grandparents who live in the flat, got stuck in the elevator. Father and son died. They suffocated from the poisonous smoke that was released during the fire of the sofa. The mother (36) and daughter (8) of the family who were in the elevator were seriously injured, but survived the consequences of the fire. After the fire was extinguished, the fire brigade found the family on the third floor of the flat.

little flame

The settee that had been set up in the entrance hall of the flat was also filled with the highly flammable plastic foam. The fire then developed rapidly and produced a lot of toxic smoke. In a number of European countries, therefore, requirements are set for the fire safety of furniture. The Dutch Safety Board calls on the Dutch government to join these countries and set requirements for the fire safety of furniture.

The fire was caused by two boys – 12 and 13 years old at the time – who set off fireworks shortly after midnight in the porch of the flat on Gelderseplein. A small flame on the couch then grew into the fire, as the cameras show. The boys feel very guilty. At the end of June last year, the Arnhem court ruled that these boys were guilty of the fire, but they were not punished. The court found that the boys had acted remarkably carelessly and inattentive, but that no one gains if they are sentenced for it. However, the parents of the two boys have to pay 90,000 euros as compensation for the grief of the mother and daughter.

One escape route

The OvV concludes that many residential buildings in the Netherlands have only one escape route. ‘Keeping this only escape route free and fire-safe is therefore of vital importance,’ according to the report. Building owners, in this case the Vivare housing corporation, are responsible for this, according to the OvV. In addition, municipalities must actively monitor this. The Public Prosecution Service will make a recommendation to the Minister of the Interior, Kajsa Ollongren, to improve the supervision of fire safety.

The family of the next of kin immediately reacted to the conclusions of the Public Prosecution Service. The family finds it emotionally very taxing to know that the fire could have been prevented. “We realize, and that is emotionally heavy, that this event was caused by negligence and could therefore have been prevented. We hope that the subject of fire safety is now also high on the agenda at housing corporation Vivare and that they, in addition to the residents, will also adhere to the rules and agreements regarding fire safety,” the family writes in a response. “We will not get Raymond and Jelle back with it, but we assume that the parties involved will follow the conclusions in the report, so that such events can be prevented in the future.”

Crisislab, a research institute of Radboud University in Nijmegen, already concluded last year that the flat was fireproof. The investigation was carried out at the request of the apartment manager, housing corporation Vivare.

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Dutch Safety Board: fire safety requirements for furniture in the Netherlands insufficient | Inland
Source link Dutch Safety Board: fire safety requirements for furniture in the Netherlands insufficient | Inland

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