Fire deaths up in 2022
A total of 48 people have lost their lives in fires this year in Estonia, up from the two previous years. The Rescue Board suggests fatal fire accidents are tied to everyday habits of people.
The year before last saw 36 fire-related deaths, with the figure coming to 39 in 2021.
Silver Kuusik, head of communication for the Estonian Rescue Board, said that statistics suggests people's homes are still fire hazards.
"Looking at the main causes of fatal fires, smoking comes first, followed by electrical fires and heating," Kuusik said, adding that there are often similarities between fire accident victims.
"Looking at the profile of the average fire victim from the outgoing year, we are talking about a person over 60 years of age, almost three-quarters of them men and over half either intoxicated or showing signs of intoxication. It is very often a lifestyle problem," he explained.
The Rescue Board carries out 22,000 home visits annually to check buildings' fire safety. Kaido Veske, crew chief of the Tabivere Rescue Commando in Tartu County, said that even though smoke alarms have been mandatory in Estonia for over a decade, not every home has one.
"Many are still surprised to learn that they need to have a smoke detector. Others just take the smoke alarm outside when they want to smoke indoors. You have to explain to them that the detector needs to stay where it is on the ceiling, and that the person has to go outside to smoke," Veske shared.
The fire commando crew chief said that local governments could help improve the often poor level of fire safety awareness.
The price of smoke alarms is another contributing factor. Smoke detectors cost between ten and a few hundred euros in most shops.
Diana Karmo, head of communication and HR for safety equipment seller Tamrex, said that a smoke alarm is not something people should be looking to save on.
"In most cases, if something seems too cheap, if they manage to find a smoke alarm that costs €5, a warning light should come on in the person's head. I would recommend trusting merchants who charge more for an alarm as I would like to believe we do not have anyone cheeky enough to charge a lot for very poor products," Karmo said.
Silver Kuusik from the Rescue Board also urged people to pay more attention to their surrounding to help make sure every home would be as safe as possible.
"A call goes out to relatives of people who might be problematic in this regard. Notice, care and lend a helping hand where possible, as it can be very helpful to just notice things," he offered.
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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Marcus Turovski