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Majority of Estonian office buildings fail to reach safety standards

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Around 80 percent of office buildings in Estonia inspected by experts last year failed to reach fire safety standards, according to reports.

Of the 446 buildings vetted by the Rescue Board and private sector specialists, problems of varying seriousness were found in 80 percent of the facilities. Only 90 buildings were found to be following all the rules.

Ahti Kuusk, head of Forus’ safety department, told Wednesday’s “Aktuaalne kaamera”: “Of these, perhaps half are issues where some construction work already needs to be done., for example, installing fire alarms, maybe fire escapes, and then maybe building compartmentation.”

In some cases, problems related to missing fire extinguishers or an escape light. A common issue was not checking fire safety devices. Kuusk said fire alarms must be checked once a year.

‘Worse than the data suggests’

Firetek, a company that installs and maintains fire safety equipment, said the situation is worse than the Rescue Service’s data suggests.

Manager Georg Kangur said: “Fire safety is an area that does not bear fruit and people often save money on it. They build fancy offices, use expensive materials, but try to save money on fire safety.”

He said there is a shortage of specialists in Estonia and fire safety documents are often incorrectly formatted when designing new buildings. But the Rescue Board said awareness is rising every year.

“What is more worrying is that even in those buildings that we visit regularly, we have to repeatedly draw attention to deficiencies,” said the agency’s Tagne Tähe.

More inspections will be carried out this year.

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