Truly, Denmark is a prison...
September 23, 2005 8:44 AM Subscribe
My girlfriend is studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark this semester. On Monday there was a rather serious fire in the kitchen of her "dorm." Nobody was hurt, but the response and follow-up has been less than ideal. Please help us get someone to take action.
posted by Who_Am_I to Law & Government (6 answers total)
At around 3:00am on Monday one of the girls got up to use the bathroom, and saw that the kitchen was on fire. No smoke detectors were sounding. She attempted to sound the fire alarm, but it didn't work. She went door to door waking people up, while another girl tried the other fire alarms (the third one worked). The fire department showed up before it spread to the rest of the building, but the kitchen is totally destroyed, and many of the surrounding rooms (common room, dining room, etc.) were damaged beyond use.
The fire was clearly an electrical fire caused by one of the refrigerators. Ten days before this, the residents had reported that one of the refrigerators had frayed wire and standing water behind it. The maitenence guy for the building told the school that he sent someone out to look at it and that they found it to be OK. This guy has a well-established history of telling the school that he has fixed things which he in fact has not.
The fire chief was there at some point after the fire and told them that the building had passed inspection at some point in the past, that no smoke detectors was not against fire code, and seemed to think that one in three fire alarms working was good enough. Surely Danish fire law cannot be this lax?
The air quality in the building has obviously been affected. Talking to my girlfriend just now, she was coughing and clearing her throat the whole time. The fire department has said that the air "should be ok to breathe", but they (the students) can't get anyone to actually come and test it. They were told on Tuesday that air filters had been set up (they had not), and again on Wednesday (they still had not), and now finally on Friday they have two small filters for the entire floor. Guess who was supposed to set them up, and told the school that he had done so on Tuesday.
Many of the girls have been psychologically affected by this event as well, and have had trouble sleeping, been anxious, etc. The school brought in two "psychologists", who everyone immediately realized were not professionals at all, and did nothing to help.
The school seems to think that everyone is overreacting, and keeps telling people to "calm down."
The problem is really this: the building is privately owned, and rented by the school to house students. It is very run down, and is to be torn down next year by a new owner. The school doesn't think that the building is their responsibility, and the new private owner is a secret because the transfer of ownership is not complete yet. Nobody feels safe in the building now, but nobody knows who to talk to to get any of this resolved.
I have suggested talking to a lawyer, and possibly the press (the building has a history of being the worst student housing in the city) just to put the pressure on.
They would like an assurance that the building is safe to be living in, or to be relocated. Any ideas on what they can do, or who they can talk to, to get some action here?