Fire prevention: a hot topic

As regulations only apply to buildings constructed after1986, the stock of older buildings is not subject to any obligations. This is a risk from which co-owners should seek to protect themselves.


Regulatory history


Fire safety in multi-occupancy dwellings is a recurring issue, which resurfaces each time there is a human tragedy. It must be said that the stock of old buildings, the vast majority, escapes any regulations on this issue. This is the case, because legislation is recent and not retroactive. This means that it only applies to buildings constructed after the law came into effect. Of 27 million existing dwellings, 7 million are at risk (300,000 become so each year) and 2.3 million are equipped with non-compliant facilities (no earthing of electrical systems, electrical wires coated with fabric, no protection for people, etc.).


In 1970 a rather summary, first draft appeared on the issue of protection for dwellings against fire. It took almost another two decades for real arrangements to be put in place.


What do the regulations say?


The regulations not only impose construction rules, depending on the number of stories, but also safety equipment in the common areas with an obligation to maintain them. Fire risk prevention is crucial.


These apply to buildings constructed after 1986 but should also be taken into account for older buildings. Older buildings would, indeed, benefit from an ad hoc policy, even if their configuration does not allow transposition of the regulations applicable to new constructions. Such a policy should affect both the common and dwellings areas. Fires mostly arise in dwelling areas (1 in 3 fires are electrical in origin).


It is up to the residents to get involved, even if this is just to get the right fire extinguishers. These are mandatory in condominium car parks (government order of 31/01/1986), in high-rise buildings (government order of 18/10/1977) and in boiler rooms (government order of 21/03/1968).


Ever since 8 March 2015, regulations oblige all co-owners to equip their dwellings with a smoke detector. Real estate professionals are obliged to verify compliance with this regulation.


Practice risk prevention in your condominiums


Verlingue Immobilier, with its vast experience in the property field, provides its customers with loss prevention support.


Verlingue Immobilier has chosen to include a qualified loss prevention engineer in its teams. The engineer is an INSSI CNPP* qualified engineer and carries out a variety of assignments, especially risk appraisal inspections. (*Institut National de Sûreté and Sécurité Incendie Centre National de Protection et Prévention)

These inspections are designed to map out the configuration and quality of the property for a commonhold customer or proposer before policy issue and during policy validity. The inspection enables the policy to be rated and negotiated in the light of full risk details.


Risk analysis consists in gathering information on the building:

– a description and assessment of the maintenance quality of the risk (façades, roofing, lift cage, basement) and neighbourhood,

– calculation of the surface area i.e. checking the declared surface area and building usage (businesses, shops, offices),

– determination of the number of lots and age of the building,

– compliance check on fire protection.


Risk prevention in your condominiums


After each inspection, the surveyor writes a report with recommendations as to the actions to be taken to improve building security and the loss prevention measures to be put in place.


The survey report is intended to help our customers alert the co-owners as to risk-avoidance measures to be taken in the building (reminder of the obligation to install smoke detectors in all dwelling areas and a reminder as to storing flammable substances in parking areas, cellars and common areas).


The recent tragedy in London and the evacuation of several buildings remind us of the need for fire loss prevention, something which is often under-estimated by co-owners.