Investigators: Fatal New Year's fire shows safety standards needed for furniture
There needs to be stronger fire safety recommendations and requirements when it comes to commercially available furniture, the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) concluded in a report published on Wednesday. The lack of such fire regulations regarding furniture endangers safety in residential buildings, the study showed.
The report was part of the inquiry into fire on New Year’s Day 2020 in Arnhem that caused the death of a father and his four-year-old son at about 1 a.m. A family of four had gotten into an elevator unaware that a fire was raging on the ground floor due to fireworks that had been set off by two juveniles.
The family was taken by surprise by the enormous heat and toxic smoke that met them at the ground floor. Two family members suffocated because of the poisonous smoke. The mother and her daughter were taken to hospital with serious injuries.
“There are no requirements in the Netherlands when it comes to the fire safety of furniture. In addition, it is assumed there is a safe escape rout in residential buildings. The fire in Arnhem showed this is not the case”, chair of the Dutch Safety Board, Jeroen Dijsselbloem said.
In the entrance hall of the flat, sofas with plastic foam had been placed. The foam can easily catch fire and produce large amounts of toxic smoke.
“This event was caused by negligence and therefore perhaps could have been prevented”, the family said in reaction to the report, according to NOS.
In multiple European countries, there are already fire safety regulations for furniture. “The Dutch Safety Board calls on the Dutch government to join these countries and set requirements for the fire safety of furniture”, the OVV wrote.
In many residential buildings there is only one escape route, the investigation noted. If this escape route is blocked, in the event of a fire this can also have fatal consequences.
Since the fire, all flats in the building where the tragic fire occurred have been fitted with smoke detectors and residents informed about escape routes and fire safety.