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Smoke detectors to be compulsory in all Brussels homes from 2025

09:48 06/10/2023

All Brussels residents must place smoke detectors in their homes from 1 January 2025, following a decision by the Brussels council of ministers.

If there are four or more individual smoke detectors in a house, property owners will also have to install a central smoke detection system.

“Three minutes is the time it takes to lose everything in a fire,” said Brussels state secretaries for housing Nawal Ben Hamou and Ans Persoons in a joint announcement. This is less than half the average response time of the Brussels fire brigade - eight minutes.

Three minutes is also all the time victims have to leave their home to be safe – instead of the 17 minutes estimated previously, because furniture and other equipment in houses are now much more flammable.

“Installing smoke alarms in all homes is a simple but highly effective way to save lives and reduce damage,” said Persoons, from the Flemish socialist party Vooruit.

“However, reality shows that not everyone is aware of the life-saving power of a quality smoke alarm. To reinforce our message, we are launching a large-scale awareness campaign next year to make everyone aware that this small device can make a huge difference.”

In the Brussels region, only rented properties (since July 2005) are required to be fitted with autonomous smoke detectors. This means that 40% of homes are not affected by the law. But detection devices, that only cost a few dozen euros, play a crucial part in fire protection.

“Rapid detection of smoke saves lives,” the Brussels region website says, emphasising that smoke, that makes rooms dark, and its occupants disorientated, is more dangerous than flames.

“Thanks to smoke detectors, the number of deaths in a domestic fire falls from nine to three per 1,000 fires. Some 69% of fires (41% without a smoke detector) can be confined to the source, limiting the damage caused.”

The new measure will bring Brussels in line with Wallonia, where the rule has been in force since 2006 and Flanders (2020). Action is needed, given that in Belgium, 586 fires were recorded in 2021, 568 in 2022 and 560 from 1 January to 11 August this year alone.

In addition, while only 36 people died in house fires last year in the Netherlands, there were 76 in Belgium, including 10 in the Brussels region.

“There are too many accidents,” Persoons told television station BX1. “It is very important to act.”

The aim of the new rules is to prevent the number of avoidable fires that take place every year, as well as to reintroduce a culture of security around house fires.

“Preventing house fires must once again become a priority, as it is a crucial safety issue that ensures that lives can be saved,” said Ben Hamou.

“The statistics taken year after year are disastrous: not to mention the inevitable high material costs and the human toll which, with the staggering number of deaths and injuries, is simply intolerable.”

The different types of equipment and how to place detectors are detailed on the Brussels fire fighters' website - www.pompiers.bruxelles. A brochure including diagrams will also soon be given out to the general public.

Written by Liz Newmark