BTA: smoke detectors – now a rarity, soon a must


At present, but mere 6% of insured apartments and 16% of insured buildings have active local smoke detectors or detectors that are connected to controls of security company system, according to BTA Baltic Insurance Company AAS (BTA) data summary on real estate insurance.


In 6 months of 2018, the number of apartment insurance policies in property insurance has reached 20,550. Mere 6% or 1267 of the insured apartments have smoke detectors, of which 3.5% or 720 apartments have local smoke detectors, while in 2.7% or 547 cases they operate through connection to security company controls. Of 13,500 building insurance policies, smoke detectors have been installed in 16% or 2175 cases, to include local smoke detectors in 860 cases, while gadgets connected to security companies are present in 1315 or 9.7% cases.


“In the majority of cases it is just our own neglect, living by the slogan “nothing bad most probably will happen”. Although, hearing on the news about the huge losses in cases of fire disasters, when people lose practically all their belongings and sometimes even life, probably many come to think that situation could be less severe, if the property would have been better equipped and insured,” BTA Insurance Claims Handling Department Director Kārlis Liepiņš comments on the situation.


According to him, installation of smoke detectors is one thing, the other is obtaining them from certified sellers and their correct installation.


“Being a socially responsible company, BTA applies discounts to insurance premiums to those its customers, who have installed smoke detectors, as we are aware that it reduces the probability of fire risk occurrence and its scope. A 5% discount is granted, when the one installed is a standalone smoke detector and a 10% discount – when the smoke detector has been connected to a security or fire safety system of a company,” emphasizes K. Liepiņš.


It will be a requirement since 1 January on the next year for private houses as well as apartments to have autonomous smoke-activated fire detectors, while private houses additionally have to be equipped by a fire extinguisher. The presence of smoke detectors will first be checked in those homes, which already have a fire record or which are complained about and reported – the State Fire and Rescue Service (Valsts ugunsdzēsības un glābšanas dienests (VUGD)) informs about the anticipated inspection procedure.


According to VUGD’s requirements, at least one smoke detector needs to be installed in an apartment, while a private house must have one installed on each floor of the building. Detector has to be installed at the ceiling in rooms, which is the primary location of sleeping or staying of the dwelling’s inhabitants. Autonomous fire detectors are operated by batteries, which need a timely replacement, which will be reminded by the detector itself by sending short sound signals, and detector’s functionality can also be tested by the control button from time to time.


Violation of fire safety requirements is an offence subject to fine under the Latvian Administrative Violations Code, for private individuals – from 30 to 280 euros, for legal entities – from 280 to 1400 euros. Although, the officials keep emphasizing that the goal of the new regulation is not punishing the owners, rather than reducing the disastrous consequences of fires. The mandatory installation of smoke detectors has already proven to be a successful practice abroad, where, thanks to detectors, the number of fire casualties has dropped as much as by 75%.


An autonomous fire detector is a small gadget, able to independently detect factors of a fire in a room (concentration of smoke, heat), giving a shrill 80 dB sound signal for approximately half an hour non-stop to warn the inhabitants.

Autonomous fire detector operates from an autonomous power source. Most often it is a 9V battery, placed into the detector’s case. Naturally, this gadget is no replacement for a fire extinguisher. Its mission is not to extinguish, rather than warn about a fire hazard occurrence. Further actions, depending on the situation, are to be decided by the inhabitants themselves – to try to smother the flames on their own or immediately leave the location of fire and call firefighters for help. In cases, when there is no one left at home, there are chances that the shrill alarm signal of the autonomous fire detector will be heard by neighbours and call a fire brigade. It should be kept in mind that autonomous fire detectors are designed to be used indoors. When installed outdoors, they will not provide the expected effect.


About BTA

BTA Baltic Insurance Company is one of the leading insurance companies in the Baltics, offering the broadest range of non-life insurance services in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. BTA employs more than 1,000 employees in the Baltics. The largest shareholder of BTA is Vienna Insurance Group AG with close to 200 years of experience in the insurance business. With about 50 companies in 25 countries and more than 25,000 employees, Vienna Insurance Group is the clear market leader in its CEE markets. Vienna Insurance Group is the best-rated company of ATX, the leading index of Vienna Stock Exchange with a rating of A+ with stable outlook from Standard & Poor’s; its share is also listed on the Prague Stock Exchange.


Additional information:

Elīna Rasmane

Marketing and Public Relations Department Director

BTA Baltic Insurance Company AAS