B2/2010Y Fire in the Apartment Building Leading to the Dead of Three People in Tampere on 22 November 2010
A pizzeria at street level in an apartment building in Tampere was intentionally set on fire in the early hours of 22 November 2010. The explosive outbreak of the fire broke structures surrounding the pizzeria. Glass from and around the door leading to an adjacent stairwell was shattered and fire gases spread to the stairwell. A newspaper deliverer escaped from the stairwell to a fifth-floor apartment. He and two residents who were inside left the apartment by way of a window, escaping into the building’s inner court. Three residents attempted to leave the building through the stairwell, but perished there.
The fire set off the fire alarm system of another building on the opposite side of the street, and the Emergency Response Centre alerted rescue units to attend the scene. Soon after the explosion, the Emergency Response Centre received several emergency calls reporting a large-scale fire on Hämeenkatu. These emergency calls were made both by people inside the building and passers-by. The Emergency Response Centre relayed the information from the emergency calls to the fire officer on duty, who increased the number of rescue units involved in the mission.
Having arrived at the scene, the rescue units began extinguishing the fire on the building’s Hämeenkatu side and evacuating on the inner court side. During the extinguishing fire fighters searched for a cleaner in the night club. It was later discovered that two cleaners had left the nightclub through the backdoors, as had two nightclub employees.
Fire fighters working in stairwell A of the building’s inner court side noticed a strong fire behind a wooden fire door on the first stairwell landing. After extinguishing it, they proceeded to the stairwell and found the first two victims on the second floor landing and a third on the landing between the fifth and sixth floors. Smoke ventilation from the stairwell was unsuccessful.
Some residents who had remained in their apartments called the Emergency Response Centre and were instructed to await fire-fighters. If necessary, they were to try to prevent smoke from entering their apartments. According to information conveyed by the Emergency Response Centre, a resident was rescued from the sixth floor. A woman who had fled from a penthouse apartment to a roof terrace was rescued by way of stairwell B. After this, a systematic check began in the premises and apartments of stairwell A. Evacuation in other stairwells (B, C and D) had begun earlier, the residents moving into buses called to the scene. The buses took the residents to an evacuation location, a multi-purpose building about three kilometres away.
The investigation commission recommends that greater detail be added to building regulations on smoke ventilation. These should clearly require that stairwells have smoke vents or windows which are either self-opening or opened from below. The smoke ventilation arrangements for all apartment building stairwells should be surveyed, with the requirement that they be made functional. When the emergency plans of residential apartment buildings are being prepared, the emergency exits of old buildings should be surveyed and modified so as to enable safe exit. Guidelines are required on emergency planning instructions, so as to avoid the use of standard templates; emergency plans should be prepared for each building through genuine collaboration, and arrangements should be made for the communication of essential safety information to residents. It is also recommended that the appropriate safety training be provided to people working between various buildings.