BY ROB VAN DER WAL | VIDEO RIANNE AALBERS
The past few weeks, more than six hundred student houses received a surprise visit from the fire department. Inspectors checked for things such as escape routes and working smoke detectors. What they found was occasionally quite concerning.
Student Lydia, who lives in Huize Dolfzicht isn’t sure what to make of fire inspector Harm Musch at her door. While he’s got a fireman’s insignia on his outfit and his car clearly says ‘fire department’, she still wants to see some identification.
‘I’ve heard about people pretending to be fire inspectors so they can break in’, she says. ‘A scammer came to my friend’s house once and told her all kinds of weird stuff, like she should leave her front door unlocked at night because it was safer.’
Lydia’s student house seems to be mostly in order, with the exception of a single smoke detector with a faulty battery. The landlord will be getting a letter from the fire department telling them to fix it.
‘I’ll also text him about it’, says Lydia. ‘It might be a good idea for all the smoke detectors to work when we’re cooking in the middle of the night.’
At another student house, inspector Musch is less happy. He has to navigate around drying racks, tables, and chairs blocking the hallway. None of the smoke detectors in the house work; most of them have been covered up with plastic bags.
‘I know the house isn’t particularly safe’, says resident Else. ‘But it takes so much effort to fix the smoke detectors or clean up the hallway. We just procrastinate on those things.’
Besides, says Else, the house doesn’t feel that unsafe. ‘My previous landlord was much more conscious of fire safety. He always wanted the hallways to be clear. But that was an old house with a lot of wood, and I needed to go down two sets of stairs to get outside. Now I only have one set of stairs and I can also leave via the balcony if I have to. That feels a lot safer.’
But inspector Musch is not swayed by her arguments: the landlord will receive a letter detailing the defects, and the house will be checked again in the near future.