Every year Verbier experiences a larger number of fires than you may realize. In Verbier, we are fortunate to have a team of professional firefighters augmented by a number of local volunteers. A firefighter’s job is first to save human life and then to save material possessions – this at the risk of their own life. We owe our Verbier firefighters sincere appreciation for their courage and dedication.
Only the professionals sleep at the fire station. The volunteers are on call and head to the fire station when an alert is sent. The Fire Station is located on the rue de Plan Praz, just west of the large parking lot of the Sports Center. In addition to responding to fire alarms, they supply awareness courses for the various rental companies, hotels, schools and les Elfes children’s camp.
The estimated time of first response to a fire in Verbier is 10 minutes.
It is important for all property owners to have posted in their apartments and chalets the emergency numbers below. Pop them into your cell phones. Remember that in an emergency time is of the essence!
Make it easy for your guests and for children to know what to do on holiday. Leave the numbers easily visible by the phone or posted up on the door.
Police 117 | Fire 118 | Ambulance 144
FIRE SAFETY TIPS
To help reduce the number of fires this season, here are some important rules to follow.
According to the fire service, the main causes for fire are as follows:
1) human error or inattention
2) trees that are too close to the building
3) faulty electricity
4) electric cars
FIREPLACES AND CHIMNEYS
Did you know that fire insurance is NOT mandatory in Valais? Double check with your insurance company to verify if you are covered.
It is mandatory to have your chimney swept on a yearly basis. If not, it is likely that you are not covered by your insurance in the case of a fire starting from the chimney/roof.
Until recently, there were no enforceable construction norms for chimney building. However, that has changed. There are now NEW CHIMNEY NORMS! You may not be covered if your chimney is not updated to these norms.
The “Official Chimney Sweep” for the Commune de Bagnes (Verbier) is Service de Rammonage Mariaux and can be reached at 027 722 30 12 for an appointment. They will clean your chimney and are officially responsible for inspecting the conformity of your chimney. Following the inspection, they establish a report stating any modifications or repairs necessary to meet the new norms. You are then free to contact any specialist (known as a “Fumiste”) you wish to do the necessary work.
The most common issues to be treated are: fire-proofing the wooden beams on the fireplace, retubing the interior of the smoke duct, extending the tube of evacuation to 3m above roof top, etc. Some of these modifications are reasonably small, but others can be pricey. It is worth getting more than one estimate if you need major renovations. *Please find attached the new norms criteria.
It is highly recommended not to light a fire until you are sure that your chimney meets these new standards.
An ash that is dark and cold to the touch does not necessarily mean that it is not active. It may well still be red at the core.
It is best to clean the ashes into a metal recipient and place them on a NON-CONDUCTIVE surface (meaning STONE! Not wood!) The braises can fan and heat the metal bucket which will burn through any wooden surface.)
Beware to NEVER vacuum up ashes, as the air suction will fan them into life. This has happened a number of times in Verbier. The vacuum then catches fire and it may not be noticed until it’s too late!
Fire Extinguishers should be examined every 3 years by a specialist.
Be sure to install appropriate lights – Outdoor lights for the balcony and indoor lights for the interior.
Candles on trees are a danger and are not recommended in this day and age. All candles should be placed on non-combustible surfaces.
If you have pets, you can request a sticker for your front door to alert firefighters to their presence. Contact us if you have any questions about this.
Inform yourself it there is a ban on fireworks. The commune will post a notice on its website. Also consider where you aim your fireworks. There is more than one chalet that has burned to the ground from a firework landing on its roof!
Regarding electric cars, did you know that there is no way to extinguish a Lithium car battery that is on fire? Lithium continues to burn in water and extinguishers do not put it out. The only thing to do is to allow the battery to burn itself up which can take 48 hours.
Therefore, take extra caution when charging your battery in an underground parking garage. Often people use a rolled-up extension cord to reach their battery. Rolled up cords are only meant for light charges and CAN NOT support the charge of a car battery! It is always better to charge your car battery in an open space.
Underground parking garages are hard to combat as they become infernos and can spread the fire to habitable spaces above.
GARAGE LEVEL FIRE DOORS
Consider updating the door leading from your garage to your home with a fire-proof door. An architect or specialist must calculate the “burn surface volume” of the garage to determine the type of door that will function correctly.
The average European Norm is called E160 which protects a building for the length of 60 minutes. Burnt concrete will damage significantly and lose its structural strength.
SURVEILLANCE SERVICEThe Fire Department encourages all households to be connected to the Alarm Center which monitors the overall security of a home - fire and burglary. A subscription costs around 350 CHF per year. Another important recommendation is to install a "key ring tube" at the entrance door of each building. This keychain tube contains the keys to the front door so that firefighters and police can access it in an emergency. * Please note: Two service members must be present to open the key tube. Anecdote: Several times the firefighters arrive to help someone stranded in an elevator. They have the key to the elevator but do not have the key to the front door of the building!
Make sure you or your building administrator provide the LATEST access codes to the Fire and Police departments before you need them! This is often forgotten when a password is changed.