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Smoke detectors: what are the risks if you don’t fulfil your obligations?
If you haven’t yet fitted your home with fire detectors, you cannot delay it a moment longer! Since 1 January 2023, these are mandatory in all residential accommodation in Luxembourg. Aside from the risks to your life or property, do you know exactly what could happen if you don’t comply with this legal obligation? Let us tell you what you need to know!
Luxembourg has kept up with its neighbours: in Wallonia, smoke detectors have been mandatory since 2006. France followed suit in 2015, followed by Germany in 2016. In our country, the law came into force on 1 January 2020 for new buildings, giving existing houses three years to comply. Now that this deadline has passed, everyone is supposed to be in compliance as of 1 January 2023.
The good news is that these small, inexpensive devices save lives! As the most dangerous thing about a fire isn’t the flames but the smoke, which kills silently, often while you sleep. In Luxembourg, one person dies every year from smoke inhalation poisoning. In neighbouring countries, fire detectors are estimated to reduce the number of victims by 25%.
Landlord or tenant: reminder of the main rules
As the owner (or co-owner), you’re responsible for fitting smoke detectors, while the occupant is responsible for their maintenance (regularly checking that the device works properly and replacing the batteries when they are flat).
- The detectors must be CE marked and comply with the European standard EN 14604 (both marked on the device).
- They should be installed on the ceiling or as high up as possible, preferably towards the centre of the room.
- Each bedroom must be fitted with at least one detector,
- In addition, all escape routes from the home in case of emergency: stairwell, corridors, hallway, etc.
Installation in other rooms in the home isn’t mandatory, but is strongly recommended in places such as the laundry room, office, living room or boiler room. However, smoke detectors are not recommended for use in the garage, kitchen or bathroom, as cooking smoke or water vapours can cause the device to go off unexpectedly.
Find all the answers, including how to install detectors, at https://rauchmelder.lu.
What happens if you fail to comply with these obligations?
Although installing fire detectors is now a legal requirement, there are no fines for non-compliance.
And contrary to popular belief, your home insurance company cannot refuse to pay out on the grounds that you haven’t installed smoke detectors, as the law on smoke detectors prohibits any forfeiture clause in fire cover.
However, if a fire breaks out in your home and causes material damage to someone other than yourself (the occupying tenant, a visitor or the neighbour if the fire spreads), or even worse, injury or death, you could be held civilly and criminally liable.
- But no insurance covers your criminal liability! This means that you can be prosecuted in a criminal court and face a hefty fine or even a prison sentence for manslaughter if your negligence causes injury or death.
- Victims or their beneficiaries may also claim compensation from you in civil proceedings for moral and/or material damage.
In conclusion, the reason to buy fire detectors is that they can really save lives. The law merely emphasises how important they can be. Don’t wait for a tragedy to happen in order to realise this. Prevent the risks now.