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Old 14.11.2007, 00:00
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No fire alarms? Alarming!

Late this evening my husband and I thought we smelled something burning in our apartment (really quite a faint smell, but concerning nonetheless). After making sure that nothing in the kitchen was left on, we moved through the other rooms of the house and could not find anything.

I wondered if the odor might be coming from another apartment. I mentioned to my husband that if it was really serious that I supposed the fire alarm would go off. I got a strange look and he said that our building did not have any fire alarms?!!! After looking around briefly in the apartment and halls, it would appear that he is correct.

I was really shocked to learn that we have no fire alarm in the entire building. Is that the norm here? The owner takes great care of the building, but I am really surprised to learn that such a simple safety precaution does not exist.

In the US, I believe that fire alarms are mandatory in all rental units. I have no idea how this works elsewhere, but it seems like a reasonable requirement.

Does anyone else have any other information on this?
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Old 14.11.2007, 00:27
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

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Late this evening my husband and I thought we smelled something burning in our apartment (really quite a faint smell, but concerning nonetheless). After making sure that nothing in the kitchen was left on, we moved through the other rooms of the house and could not find anything.

I wondered if the odor might be coming from another apartment. I mentioned to my husband that if it was really serious that I supposed the fire alarm would go off. I got a strange look and he said that our building did not have any fire alarms?!!! After looking around briefly in the apartment and halls, it would appear that he is correct.

I was really shocked to learn that we have no fire alarm in the entire building. Is that the norm here? The owner takes great care of the building, but I am really surprised to learn that such a simple safety precaution does not exist.

In the US, I believe that fire alarms are mandatory in all rental units. I have no idea how this works elsewhere, but it seems like a reasonable requirement.

Does anyone else have any other information on this?
Welcome to Switzerland

You'll find that 'safety' isn't such a high priority in the country

However, that's maybe healthy given the paranoia and preoccupation with risk-elimination now commonplace in many Western societies.
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Old 14.11.2007, 02:03
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

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You'll find that 'safety' isn't such a high priority in the country
Not right at all. There is simply the general belief that common sense plus sticking to the rules = no trouble. A sort of Darwinian approach, one could say...
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Old 14.11.2007, 07:24
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

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Not right at all. There is simply the general belief that common sense plus sticking to the rules = no trouble. A sort of Darwinian approach, one could say...
Isn't that the same as "safety is not a high priority"?

What shocked me was that in the first two apartment we lived in here was that we were locked in the building at night (from 8pm in summer 6pm in winter). In case of fire - with no fire alarms no smoke detectors and an open stair well to help spread a fire - we would need our keys to get out. The house door was not open-able from the inside without a key and the re-enforced glass had bars on the outside. Escape without a key was impossible.

Add to this the dangers of walking down a staircase with no emergency lighting and no signalled fire escape, and I cannot come to any other conclusion than safety is not a high priority in Switzerland...
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Old 14.11.2007, 08:48
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

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I was really shocked to learn that we have no fire alarm in the entire building. Is that the norm here? The owner takes great care of the building, but I am really surprised to learn that such a simple safety precaution does not exist.
You could discuss the matter with the landlord, or buy the detectors and fill your home with them, CHF8. each is a cheap insurance.
I hate to freighten you further but look for the sprinkler systems!!! You wont find them either! except for watering the lawns!
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Old 14.11.2007, 08:50
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

Also notice that there are no fire escapes, even on tall buildings.

Around here, people just wait to be victimized, then bitch like hell about something someone else did or did not do.
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Old 14.11.2007, 09:15
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

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What shocked me was that in the first two apartment we lived in here was that we were locked in the building at night (from 8pm in summer 6pm in winter). In case of fire - with no fire alarms no smoke detectors and an open stair well to help spread a fire - we would need our keys to get out. The house door was not open-able from the inside without a key and the re-enforced glass had bars on the outside. Escape without a key was impossible.

Add to this the dangers of walking down a staircase with no emergency lighting and no signalled fire escape, and I cannot come to any other conclusion than safety is not a high priority in Switzerland...
Exactly the same with our apartment. Wife thinks I'm nuts telling her that the fire drill is to climb out the windows of our "parterre(?)" apartment (half a floor height above ground level).
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Old 14.11.2007, 10:14
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

Thanks for that. It caused me to look around our appt. It goes without saying that we don't have any smoke detectors. Guess what we are doing at the weekend
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Old 14.11.2007, 10:19
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

OK, so basically no one has fire alarms. I probably will ask our landlord about it at some point. Fortunately, he is quite approachable and will not be offended if I ask about it.

What kills me, is that our building has a whole cellar full of nuclear fall-out shelters with a 12 inch (or thicker?) doors. Such irony!
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Old 14.11.2007, 11:25
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

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Not right at all. There is simply the general belief that common sense plus sticking to the rules = no trouble. A sort of Darwinian approach, one could say...
I'm not totally against the Swiss approach - it's no worse than the paranoia about 'health and safety' that's now commonplace in the UK, which is absolutely ridiculous.

However, the laissez-faire attitude goes too far in some cases - not having fire alarms and proper emergency lighting in an apartment block is just asking for disaster. No amount of sticking to the rules is going to eliminate fires.
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Old 14.11.2007, 11:30
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

I was surprised at this topic, since I never even conisidered fire alarms. But upon reflection I have to agree, it's kinda strange that we don't have anything like that around. I wonder what the reasons behind it are.

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Add to this the dangers of walking down a staircase with no emergency lighting and no signalled fire escape, and I cannot come to any other conclusion than safety is not a high priority in Switzerland...
If you narrow that statement down to fire safety I'd agree with you Other areas we're almost paranoid when it comes to safety.
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Old 14.11.2007, 11:35
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

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I was surprised at this topic, since I never even conisidered fire alarms. But upon reflection I have to agree, it's kinda strange that we don't have anything like that around. I wonder what the reasons behind it are..
As anything safety related, it's costs versus frequency.
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Old 14.11.2007, 12:24
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

my fire alarm back in the US, used to go off everytime I cooked so I took the battery out. then again, how many house fires have I heard of here in CH. Not many.
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Old 14.11.2007, 12:58
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my fire alarm back in the US, used to go off everytime I cooked so I took the battery out. then again, how many house fires have I heard of here in CH. Not many.
This was a biggy from yesterday: http://www.20min.ch/news/bern/story/13730193
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Old 14.11.2007, 13:30
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

I am not convinced that this is the reason. Someone else mentioned that one can purchase a fire alarm for 9CHF. At this point, we do not know what the frequency is, but certainly the risk of fire should not be any less than anywhere else in North America. Could even be more since so many people smoke here.

I am tempted to jump to a conclusion and say that it has something to do with the mentality that this is `how we have always done it` coupled with the (false) perception that it is `not that big of a risk.`

I am curious about what other countries in Europe require. Anyone?

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As anything safety related, it's costs versus frequency.
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Old 14.11.2007, 13:32
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

The thing is, people rarely die of fires, they die of smoke inhalation. Many die in their sleep because they don't notice it in time.
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Old 14.11.2007, 13:39
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

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I am not convinced that this is the reason. Someone else mentioned that one can purchase a fire alarm for 9CHF.
You can buy smoke alarms in bigger post offices. I saw them for sale earlier this week. Fire alarms, I assume, would be fitted by a specialist firm and would cost substantially more than SFR 9.

The incidents of house fires in Switzerland predictably goes up around the Christmas season when people use candles on their trees (flick through 20 Minuten from about the 15th December).
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Old 14.11.2007, 13:59
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

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The thing is, people rarely die of fires, they die of smoke inhalation. Many die in their sleep because they don't notice it in time.
Very true, smoke is a real killer. From the last paragraph in the 20 minutes article, one couple saw through the door spyhole that there was no escape through the smoke, so closed the windows and had a cup of coffee.
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Old 14.11.2007, 14:01
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

what is the difference? I assume that the fire alarm detects smoke and where there is smoke there is fire...

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You can buy smoke alarms in bigger post offices. I saw them for sale earlier this week. Fire alarms, I assume, would be fitted by a specialist firm and would cost substantially more than SFR 9.

The incidents of house fires in Switzerland predictably goes up around the Christmas season when people use candles on their trees (flick through 20 Minuten from about the 15th December).
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Old 14.11.2007, 14:03
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Re: No fire alarms? Alarming!

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I am not convinced that this is the reason. Someone else mentioned that one can purchase a fire alarm for 9CHF.
Well, you probably can buy a smoke alarm for 9 CHF, and then i'd bet the five francs in twenty centime coins lying on my table that you won't notice when the batteries need be changed at least 50% of the time.

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I am curious about what other countries in Europe require. Anyone?
Throughout western europe smoke alarms in appartments will be a very very rare occurence, and if I am not mistaken, not legally prescribed.
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