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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.

Last month, three students suddenly became homeless because of a fire in their student house.

Lotte, Liza, and Karlijn

In September, 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, starting from 30 October, we will be performing fire safety checks in student houses over a two-week period. Inspectors will 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.

More information about the fire safety checks