From November, a fire safety audit to apartment associations previously only available in parts of Estonia is being rolled out nationwide, the Rescue Board (Päästeamet) says.
The service is aimed at getting apartment residents' associations – which apartment houses large and small generally have – acquainted with fire safety requirements with a view to checking their own apartment building, including stairways, corridors and basements, for compliance. Consultations will take place from Nov. 18 and are by appointment.
"Previous inspections by the Rescue Board show that apartment buildings have problems with meeting fire safety requirements in communal areas," said Rescue Board fire prevention expert Sandra Tammiksaar, according to a press release.
"For example, stairwells being used to store things that should not be there, or front doors which cannot easily be opened. However, an innocent stroller or sled in a hallway could cost someone's life, and more needs to be made clear [on this]," she continued.
Apartment associations can get a safety appraisal from Rescue Board personnel, who can review communal areas.
Representatives of apartment associations can also help by asking residents to open their homes to Rescue Board personnel, to check safety requirements, including the requirement to have a smoke detector, mandatory since 2009, are in place.
"We are more noticeable when we act together, and this [initiative] can give us a good holistic view of home safety throughout the house. We consider it vital that the first contact with the Rescue Board takes place during the counseling process, especially in the case of houses that have recently been affected by a fire," Tammiksaar went on.
Rescue Board personnel will contact a residents' association in advance and agree on a suitable time for a session. If any deficiencies discovered during the counseling cannot be easily and immediately remedied, a time slot for a follow-up visit will be agreed, the Rescue Board says, adding that no deficiencies will result in a fine or any legal proceedings, though this can happen if an association does not rectify violations within an agreed time scale.
Apartment associations can register for a slot by phoning 1524, this number can also be used to verify if a person presenting at an apartment house saying they work for the Rescue Board is who they say they are.
Editor: Andrew Whyte