A basement that is free of trash and unnecessary stuff is an important from the fire safety perspective, especially in apartment buildings. In cooperation with the Estonian Rescue Board, we invite people to tidy up their basements and organize them so, that in the case of an emergency situation the basements could be used as the first place of refuge and shelter.
Last year 20 fires accidentally got started in the basements. So why are the basements so flammable? The basements are often used as storage rooms for materials that catch fire easily, also there are my electricity cables and devices that in case of a fire speed up the spreading of fire and smoke in the basement and in the evacuation hallways. As basements are not used on a daily basis, the fire can stay unnoticed in the early stage. Therefore, it is crucial to keep the space clean and easily accessible.
A basement of a residential building is also the first spot to shelter during a potential emergency. The safest hiding space is an underground basement of a concrete building made of reinforced concrete. Wooden houses and a family residence would not serve as a good shelter and during a threat it is advised to move to a safer place. But any basements is safer compared to a room on the ground.
In order to make sure that the basements serve as the first shelter, they should be clean and have enough of carrying walls. An ideal basement has several exit doors. A basement is also a good place to have the basic products stored (such as food, water, medicine, batteries etc), so that these can be used while hiding.
Main problematic areas:
1. Flammable materials on the evacuation way such as furniture, waste materials from construction works, wood, tyres, chemicals.
2. Items stored on the in evacuation hallways which make the accessibilty for the rescue team difficult (such as bicycles, strollers and other).
3. Expired electrical systems that should to be checked and updated by professional electricians.
4. Doors that can not be opened easily.
5. Missing fire suppression doors, hence the basements do not serve as separate safe sections that could keep the fire from spreading all over the building.
Items stored in the basements which make it difficult
to use the room as a potential shelter.
What can be done during the collective action event?
1. Sort all the items and stuff and decide what is useful and what is useless.
2. Plan how and where to take the useless items. Check: kuhuviia.ee
3. Order a container in case of a need.
4. To ensure the fire safety consult with a professional electrician and double check the cables.
5. Find necessary tools.
6. Invite others to come and help.
Works that help to improve the situation:
1. Remove everything that stops access to the evacuation route.
2. Install a closing device on the fire suppression door. This will ensure that the door closes automatically, and the suppression door can serve its purpose – stop the fire and smoke from spreading around.
3. Remove flammable items and clean up so that the space could be used as a refuge shelter.
4. Check and strengthen the beams and walls in order to reduce the risk of collapse.
5. Many basements are only half-way underground. In case of an emergency and the need to shelter, the best place to hide would be a room without windows. If the space has windows then for the safety during the emergency situation, it is advised to tape them and board up from inside and outside. This protects you from the fragments of glass in case of a shock wave. To build a barricade, bags full of sand, wooden boards and blanks can be used.
Cleaned up and well organized basements reduce the threat of the fire. They can also be used a potential place to store elementary supplies needed during an emergency situation. In stocking up the supplise remember that water, food, medicine and first aid equipment, also light and communication tools with batteries are needed.