Tuesday 07 July 2020

Fire safety needs stepping up in high rise buildings: fire chief

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Fire brigade officials are extremely concerned about the large increase in high rise developments in the Netherlands in which safety is too often ‘bottom of the list of priorities’, the AD said on Friday.

Esther Liegen, The Hague’s fire chief and head of the brigade’s incident unit, told the paper that fire safety cannot always be guaranteed, given the spate of new tower blocks.

‘Our ladders only reach up to 30 metres,’ she said. ‘Higher than that we have to tackle the fire from inside the building and if an entire tower goes up in flames, we really won’t be able to save people.’

Lieben says developers should make safety a priority in new developments, with better, more fire resistant materials, fire-resistant doors, and sprinkler systems. These are already compulsory for buildings of over 70 metres high but the rules are less strict below this, the AD said.

In addition, local authorities should make sure that there is room for fire engines to do their job in densely populated areas, the fire chief warned.

For example, The Hague is planning to build lots of high rise residential blocks around the Hollandse Spoor railway station and ‘the infrastructure must be done properly to make sure densely populated areas can still be reached,’ Lieben said.

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