February, 2012 – Graham Miln

Electrics and Smoke Detectors

I have found it helpful to be flexible when dealing with French rental properties. It is not an easy market and assumptions here when compared to the UK and Australia differ – often dramatically.

Many French city properties are old, if not ancient compared to properties in Australia. The age of the building means much has had to be retrofitted over time. Oddly shaped rooms, questionable subdivisions, and poor insulation feel common place.

Look around enough properties and I suspect you will notice a trend, poor and old wiring. Many properties seem to daisy chain power strips liberally, use adapters, mix sockets, and repurpose switches casually.

Watch enough news in France and I expect you will see a recurring story, apartment fires.

Our current short term rental is no exception; not that it should be. It is a typical small apartment centrally located in a French city. With that comes the wiring and adaptations that make me nervous of electrical fires.

Here is a chilling extract about the state of smoke detectors in France:

"About 800 people die in house fires in France every year, and only 2% of homes have alarms. This compares with 98% in Norway and 89% in the UK, where they have been a legal requirement since 1997." -- [Compulsory smoke alarms from 2015, ConnexionFrance](https://www.connexionfrance.com/law-requires-smoke-alarms-in-every-home-by-2015-11457-view-article.html)

Smoke detectors were high on our must purchase list. Just a day or two after arriving we bought and set up our own. Auchan sell smoke alarms (détecteur de fumée) for just 9 EUR.

As a rather stark reminder of the risks, we woke a couple of days ago to a fire trunk on our street. We could not see the cause of the problem that brought them to our street. We watched as two firemen broke into an apartment window on the fifth floor. They entered through the window from a cherry picker. It was rather dramatic.

Fire trunk and cherry picker

There are no fire escapes on such old buildings and without early warning there is little hope of an easy escape. Buy a smoke detector!