Science - October 14, 2004

Fire in student flat kitchen

The fire extinguisher present in all SSHW student accommodation was put to good use last Sunday in the Haarweg. One of the occupants managed to put out a fire that started in a kitchen, but not before the kitchen had been blackened by soot.

Sander van Delden was on the roof terrace last Sunday with friends, sitting round a fire basket when a flatmate suddenly called out that there was a fire in the kitchen. Van Delden decided to try and put the fire out with the fire extinguisher there, despite the fact that the room was full of smoke. ‘At the time I was very calm, but after it was over and I was downstairs, I realised I was shaking.’
The fire brigade that was called out concluded that the fire had started in an electric plug behind the refrigerator. Apparently too many electrical fittings were working from one plug, which led to overheating. In addition there was an accumulation of dirt, including matchboxes, behind the refrigerator, which helped the fire ignite. Van Delden was surprised by the fire brigade’s conclusion: ‘We clean the kitchen thoroughly every six months, including behind the fridge. And only the fridge and the microwave were on that switch. Maybe there was a short circuit.’ The corridor was free of obstacles, in accordance with the fire safety regulations. ‘And the small fire the students had in the basket on the terrace was no problem,’ added Van Delden.
Van Delden also commented that accommodation office SSHW are dealing efficiently with the incident. Cleaning up has already started. The occupants affected have had plenty of offers from others to cook for them. Van Delden does suggest though that it is worthwhile checking how a fire extinguisher works. ‘If your kitchen is on fire, it’s not the time to sit down quietly and read the instructions. Fortunately I worked out quickly how to use it.’ / YdH

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