Building Owners Playing with Fire?

Vala Hafstað

The Reykjavík Metropolitan Fire Department has filed charges against two parties for housing residents without a proper permit in commercial buildings. The third charge is being processed, Bjarni Kjartansson, head of preventive measures at the Fire Department, told mbl.is. It is the view of the Fire Department that this kind of conduct is a violation of the criminal code and punishable by up to four years in prison.

Filing these charges represents a new campaign, intended to fight risks which result from inadequate fire prevention in commercial buildings, which have been converted into residential housing. Three such buildings have been closed so far this year.

According to Bjarni, such use of commercial buildings has become ever more common. The Fire Department has a register of those buildings and inspects some of them, but lacks the resources to be able to inspect them all. Only in the most serious of cases has the Fire Department resorted to closing down buildings.

In related news, all available fire fighters in the Reykjavík metropolitan area were called out at 5:30 am, because of a fire in a residential unit, at Funhöfði 17A, in the eastern part of Reykjavík. One person was hospitalized due to smoke inhalation and facial injuries as a result of the fire. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. Numerous people reside in the building, which is commercial housing that has been converted into residential rental units. This is not the first time fire fighters have been called to the building.

According to the officer on duty, the man who was injured had been able to extinguish the fire before the arrival of fire fighters, but the building was filled with smoke when they arrived. Damages are believed to be substantial.

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