Firefighters to help Latvian homeowners improve fire safety

State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) specialists intend to increase the number of inspections they carry out in the residential sector in an effort to prevent fire deaths, said VUGD deputy chief Mārtiņš Baltmanis in an interview with Latvian Radio January 8.

He said that already last year, firefighters visited residential homes to check on the situation. 

"They weren't exactly like a test, but more like getting to know people, so they could respond to our questions," Baltmanis said.

Firefighters will focus their attention on boilers and heating equipment as well as checking for the presence of smoke detectors, which will be a mandatory requirement in the residential sector next year. 

"There are questions about wiring, insulation, chimney cleaning and all-round fire safety, such as how close to heat sources combustible materials are kept," said Baltmanis.

Improvements in the area of fire safety are the focus of a government report and initiative "On State Policy in the Field of Fire Prevention" which covers three major areas: fire safety monitoring, prevention measures and the development of voluntary fire-fighting capabilities.  

"The measures in all three areas aim to improve the overall fire-fighting situation in the country. The conceptual report envisages exploring the possibility of creating two information systems. Baltmanis.

The aim of the checks is not to impose penalties - at least initially - but to ensure the correct advice is available to the population who will then have a chance to get their houses in order to an agreed deadline.

83 people died in fires in Latvia in 2018 - an increase on 2017's total of 79. 

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