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Fireproofing your student house

There are about 7,000 house fires in the Netherlands every year. They happen in student housing too. A bike parked in front of an emergency exit, a case of beer in your entryway, or a warren of power cables and extension cords; these might seem harmless, but the truth is that they’re fire hazards with potentially catastrophic consequences. Read on to find out what you can do to fireproof your home.

Three students suddenly became homeless because of a fire in their student house.

Lotte, Liza, and Karlijn

Last year, the kitchen in Lotte, Liza, and Karlijn’s student house became a total wasteland after a fire caused by a defective dishwasher. They were lucky to come away unharmed, but they’re still in shock. So much so, in fact, that the three girls refuse to return to the place they used to share.

Read their story (in Dutch)

How to prevent a fire

  • To safely charge your phone or laptop, do it while you’re around and can keep an eye on it. If you decide to charge a device overnight, choose a safe location. Place it on a flat and stable surface. Don’t put it on your bed
  • Are you a smoker? Don’t smoke in bed. Put out your cigarette in an ashtray. A cigarette butt in a plant can increase the risk of a fire, especially if the plant is dry. Empty your ashtray once you’ve extinguished your cigarette or put your cigarette out in some water.
  • Cooking, frying, air frying, or making a toasted sandwich? Don’t walk away from the kitchen counter! And unplug your fryer or grill once your food is ready.
  • Do you air dry your laundry? Keep your clothes well away from heat sources.
  • Like to burn candles or incense? Keep the area clear of flammable items.

Make sure you know how to make your escape

Once a fire has broken out, you only have a few minutes to get yourself to safety. That’s why you need to be prepared to leave quickly.

  • Ideally, there should be smoke detectors in every room and along the exit paths, for instance in hallways and near stairwells. There has to be a smoke detector on every floor as a minimum. It’s the law. If your student house doesn’t have the required smoke detectors, get in touch with your landlord. They have a legal obligation to provide working smoke detectors.
  • Don’t compromise a smoke detector by placing painter’s tape over the sensor. If you do, it won’t be able to alert you properly in the event of a fire. Occasionally check whether your smoke detectors are still in working order and replace the batteries if needed or ask your landlord to replace them.
  • Fire safety equipment: it’s a good idea to have a fire extinguisher or a fire blanket – or both – on every floor. If your student house has more than four rooms, a fire extinguisher is required by law. Ask your landlord if you’re unsure if you should have one.
  • Keep your exit paths clear and make sure it’s quick and easy for you to open any doors you might come across while you’re trying to leave the building.
  • Close all doors behind you as you move through the building. That includes the doors to your bedroom, the kitchen and the common room. Closed doors act as barriers, slowing down the spread of smoke and fire.
Check out the tips of the Netherlands Fire Service

You and your landlord

Ensuring fire safety is the joint responsibility of the landlord and the tenant. The landlord is expected to outfit the building with a fire alarm, smoke detectors, and fire safety equipment. It should be quick and easy for tenants to open doors along their exit route. Using keys to open doors can be a slow process that delays evacuation. Also, keys tend to get lost when panic breaks out. Doors should preferably have a turning doorknob or a panic lock because they provide a quick and easy exit in an emergency situation. You can ask your landlord about this.

More information for tenants

Fire safety checks in student houses

Previous checks have shown that the fire safety of student housing in Groningen still leaves room for improvement. That’s why we carry out fire safety inspections periodically. Inspectors will only be visiting student houses with five or more student rooms.

If you are suspicious of an inspector, you can call us on 088 162 5000 to verify their identity. Alternatively, you can contact your landlord.

How can you recognize an inspector?

  • They drive a red fire brigade vehicle. This may be a passenger car.
  • The inspector will be wearing a fire brigade uniform.
  • They will state that they are from the fire brigade and have come to carry out a fire safety check.
  • The inspector can always identify themselves with a badge or a letter stating: ‘Decision to assign inspectors’.

Are you in doubt? Then call us on 088 162 5000 or send an email to

What will an inspector be looking at?

In student houses, many people often live together in a small space. For this reason, fire safety is perhaps even more important here. And fire safety is not just about preventing fires, but also being aware of what you can do in the case of a fire. After all, if a fire starts, you only have a few minutes to get yourself to safety. We often see corridors in student houses being used to store things or smoke detectors being taped up. This too can create dangerous situations.

During the inspection, the inspector will therefore check the following:

  • Whether the smoke detectors are correctly installed and in working order;
  • Whether the escape routes are free of flammable and loose objects, and whether escape routes are ready for immediate use;
  • The use of electricity and wiring including plug sockets;
  • Whether flammable objects such as candles and incense are placed in a fireproof manner.

What can you do?

Do you live in a building with fewer than five rooms? If so, the rules are slightly different, but fire safety is still very important.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to request an inspection in this case, but fortunately, there is a lot you can do yourself. In addition to preventing fires, you should also be able to be alerted quickly and escape easily.  Check out the links below for more tips and information.