AK: Recent care home fatal blaze prompts Rescue Board fire safety checks

Rescue Board fire safety check in progress.
Rescue Board fire safety check in progress. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

The Rescue Board (Päästeamet) is conducting a round of fire safety compliance checks at sheltered accommodation facilities this week, following a fire at boarding house in Ida-Viru County which killed three people last week, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Wednesday night. Fines may be issued for non-compliance.

The board says its main concern is obstructions in communal areas, which can endanger escape routes. The pandemic had also necessitated the use of remote checks, the board says, which has also increased the need for on-the-spot inspections.

Katrin Viitmaa, the Rescue Board's eastern district's safety monitoring department told AK that: "We usually inspect care homes once a year, with or without notice."

Fines may be issued

"Last year was really difficult due to the pandemic, as we could not check most care homes, and last spring we sent out a brief survey to all facilities, so they could conduct safety checks themselves and provide us an overview," Viitmaa went on.

Viitmaa added that fines are issued in the event of serious breaches of fire safety, with potentially combustible furniture being stored in our near escape routes in older buildings being a particular issue.

Viitmaa added the inspections were not conducted simply for the sake of it.

"The main responsibility still lies with the head of the establishment and the staff working in the establishment. Fire safety requirements do not have to be just met … or because they are required by law, but they all exist for the safety of occupants."

There are over 200 general and special care institutions across Estonia, AK reported.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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