Organisation - December 22, 2009

'Administration office not at fire risk'

The administration office of Wageningen UR falls short of fire safety requirements. To enable the premises at the Costerweg to conform to the prevailing regulations, 'more than a few hundred thousand euros' are needed, says spokesman Simon Vink. Wageningen UR will have an action plan in early 2010.

The fire safety regulations are constantly being adjusted, reports Vink. As a result, the 48 inside rooms - the rooms facing the atrium - in the building may not have permanent occupancy. Fire safety rules forbid the windows overlooking the atrium to be opened. This makes the rooms unsuitable as offices. Currently, most of these rooms are being used for photocopying, storage of records and as meeting rooms, says Vink. To comply with the stricter guidelines, some ten employees will have to move to somewhere else in the building.
A more expensive requirement is to divide the building into sections which can be closed off in the event of a fire, to retard its spread. Since the building has many glass features, aerial walkways and an open space, much renovation would have to be carried out in the building, says Vink. He stresses that the building is not at fire risk; it just does not fulfil all the requirements.
The stricter fire safety regulations are listed in the Building Regulations 2003, says Sandra Velthuizen of Facilities & Services. Wageningen UR has been negotiating with the fire department for many years as to which measures are necessary to meet these stricter regulations. 'The atrium - the interior space - poses a problem. It's acceptable earlier on; now it is subjected to extra regulations.' The building is not acutely unsafe, says Velthuizen. 'The fire department did not say that it has to be evacuated.'
To comply with the building regulations, Wageningen UR has scrutinized some fifty buildings in the past years in the light of the stricter fire safety requirements, says Velthuizen. Buildings with lab facilities will be the first to be attended to.
The administration office is almost twenty years old. Therefore, the Executive Board currently wants to know not only the cost of investments needed regarding fire safety measures, but also the costs of major renovations in the coming years. Vink does not want to speculate on a possible departure of the executive board members and support staff to Wageningen Campus.