It happened more than 10 years ago, when I was still smoking. Of those small, thin cigars. I was still working late in the evening in my office at home, when I put out a cigar in an ashtray that was already well filled. I decided to empty the ashtray into a wastepaper basket that stood behind me and continued working.
Less than two minutes later, the smoke detector hanging from the ceiling in the corridor went off with a deafening noise. That last cigar, which I did not express properly, had caused a fire with smoke to start in my wastepaper basket. I didn’t notice this while working. By acting quickly, I managed to fight the fire and prevent worse suffering. Thanks to a smoke alarm, which was not even compulsory at the time. But it will be soon.
Smoke detectors mandatory from 1 July 2022
From 1 July 2022, it will be compulsory for every home in the Netherlands to have smoke detectors. This obligation has existed since 2003 for newly built houses, but the regulations will now also apply to existing buildings built before 2003. According to Article 6.21 of the Building Regulations, at least one smoke detector must be installed on every floor of an independent dwelling. In roomed houses, such as student houses, a smoke detector is mandatory in every room. In addition, enclosed areas through which an escape route runs must also be equipped with a smoke detector.
Are smoke detectors also compulsory in rented accommodation?
The answer to this question is yes! Smoke detectors are compulsory in both owner-occupied and rented homes. The homeowner (and therefore the landlord in the case of rented accommodation, e.g. a housing association) is obliged to purchase and install the smoke detectors. The homeowner is also responsible for replacing the batteries on time if necessary. The tenant, however, is obliged to cooperate with the installation of the smoke detectors.
The municipalities in the Netherlands are responsible for enforcing this obligation. How municipalities enforce this is up to them. This also applies to the other requirements that apply to existing buildings. Will you be renovating or extending your home soon and do you need a permit for this? Include the installation of smoke detectors in the specifications.
Do not install smoke detectors because you have to, but for your own safety and that of your housemates!
Smoke detectors save lives
Most fire victims fall victim to smoke inhalation. When you sleep, you can’t smell anything. Only your hearing still works. On average, there are around 30 victims per year in a fatal, non-intentional house fire.
Tip | Do not charge the battery of the mobile phone or other devices at night while you are sleeping! This can lead to overheating, especially of the plug.
Now that we know that the obligation is coming, what type of smoke alarm should you hang up?
Different types of detectors
There are different types of smoke detectors, each with their own qualifications. For example, in addition to interconnected smoke detectors, which all go off when one of them senses smoke, there are also smart smoke detectors, thermal smoke detectors or smoke detectors for the deaf and hard of hearing. There are also combined smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, designed mainly for areas where combustion appliances are present. It would be going too far to cover all the existing types of smoke detector here. For example, take a look at rookmelders.nl or on the website of the fire brigade or Brandveilig Nederland.
AAme Advisors and smoke detectors?
You may wonder what a subject like smoke detectors has to do with an office where a team of accountants, tax consultants, salary consultants and labour lawyers work. There is no direct connection. Our office does have sufficient smoke detectors. However, I noticed that, despite the fact that this obligation will come into force in a few weeks’ time, the Dutch government has hardly paid any attention to it. However, we at AAme Advisors deal with changing laws and regulations on a daily basis, especially in the areas of tax and labour law. Thus, the obligation of smoke detectors came along as a ‘by-catch’. We keep up to date in your and our interest, so that we can always provide you with the best advice. After reading this blog, please take a further look at our website. If you are interested in (one of) our services, please feel free to contact us without any obligations.
How to proceed?
I have not smoked for about ten years now. That decision, by the way, had nothing to do with that incipient wastepaper basket fire, but more with the desire for a healthier lifestyle. However, by writing this blog I have reassessed my home situation and decided to replace the existing smoke detectors. They have been hanging there for more than 10 years now…
R.J. (Roel) van Dorsten
+31 (0)15 820 00 52