More house fires for the first time in years: ‘Possibly because of working from home’

In the corona year 2020, 66,657 residential fires were reported to insurers, compared to 64,879 a year earlier. This is evident from the Residential Fires Risk Monitor published today by the Dutch Association of Insurers.

225 million euros in damage

All in all, there was damage worth 225 million euros, which is less than in 2019, when insurers paid out 248 million euros for damage caused by house fires. The lower amount is because the damage per fire was lower in 2020 (3,377 euros) than in 2019 (3,822 euros).

Corona measures

Richard Weurding, general director of the Dutch Association of Insurers, expects the corona crisis to be one of the causes of more frequent fires.

“A lot of people worked from home in 2020, which is likely to lead to more fires,” he explains. “Reacting quickly in the event of a fire is very important. Good smoke detectors throughout the house alert you quickly. You can quickly get yourself to safety and limit or even prevent fire damage to your home and property.”

Smoke detectors

The Dutch Burns Foundation also emphasizes the importance of smoke detectors. “Fire and flames are responsible for a third of the number of patients in the Dutch Burn Centers,” explains director Rob Baardse.

“We see that modern furniture and rechargeable devices cause more intense and dangerous fires than in the past. To prevent burns and fatalities, we focus on preventing fires and early detection of fire through the alarm of the smoke detector.”

From July 2022, smoke detectors will be mandatory in all homes in the Netherlands. The Netherlands Fire Brigade calls this ‘a step in the right direction’, although residents must ensure that smoke detectors work and are in the right places. That is not the case everywhere, according to a spokesperson.

Overijssel leader

Most fires broke out in Overijssel, North Brabant and Limburg. More than 10 house fires per 1000 households took place in those provinces. The main causes are ‘human actions, short circuits and work’, the insurers report.

Traditionally, most residential fire claims came in around the turn of the year.

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