Want to let Norwegians build houses without chimneys – NRK Norway – news from different parts of the country at a glance – nach Welt

The proposal to remove the chimney requirement in new houses comes at the same time as the electricity price, when new peaks are reached, the freezing cold announces new visits and the winter storm paralyzes the electricity supply in several places. The building quality directorate is behind the idea.

SELF-PREPARATION: In the event of a power failure, people have to take care of themselves for a few days, and then wood-burning is an important emergency precaution, says Elisabeth Aarsæther, Director of the Civil Protection and Emergency Planning Directorate.

Photo: Philip Hofgaard / NRK

Elisabeth Aarsæther is the chief director of another directorate: the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB). Ho my chimney and wood firing are important for self-preparation.

– People have to be able to keep warm if one or the other natural event or another major event should occur, says Aarsæther.

That is exactly what happened in November. Then Anders Berg Stensrud in Hedalen in Valdres got the winter storm up close. The forces of nature took the forest and swept away streamlines and stakes. It took almost seven days for the electricity to return.

– That we had omn and firewood was the only thing that allowed us to be here. It was freezing cold and without the Omnen we would not have had any heat and we could not cook. It got cold in the house and then the lake would have frozen over, the wood burning kept everything alive, says Berg Stensrud to the NRK.

Proposal to drop claims

Still, there is a proposal to abolish the chimney requirement in new homes.

Head of Department Christine Molland Karlsen in the Building Quality Directorate explains the proposal as follows:

– Part of the background to the proposal is that we are constantly looking to simplify building codes. And also that the construction costs should not increase, she tells the NRK.

Wood stoves and fireplaces are much more than comfort and cosiness. Firewood is important when the blackout is a fact. Mother of three Benedicte Joten, also from Hedalen, is not sure how she managed without firewood when the storm took the current.

– I don’t think it went so terribly well, at least not in the beginning because we were closed to the outside world because the road was closed. And we didn’t have a unit. In a way, we didn’t have anything, so we were completely dependent on having some firewood, she says.

She makes little sense of the proposal to get rid of chimneys in new houses.

– I think that just doesn’t make a lot of sense. We live in Norway, and nine out of twelve months it’s too cold not to have a fireplace, she says.

She receives full support from Elisabeth Aarsæther in the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning:

– We are in Norway. It’s cold now in December. If the electricity should go away for a long time and there is no alternative heat source, then we fear that it will reduce the level of self-sufficiency in the population a little.

– There is one point among many other points that prompts us to make an overall assessment, says Christine Molland Karlsen in the Construction Quality Directorate.

Important self-preparation

In the DSB they emphasize the word self-preparation – first aid in the house if something serious happens.

– You can’t just call the emergency number if something should happen. We see in the pandemic that we need a lot of health workers for the really sick. Should there be another type of crisis that you might need help with, with that help you can probably wait a little longer if you can cope with it on your own for a while, says the top manager of the Civil Protection and Emergency Planning Directorate, Elisabeth Aarsæther.

And add:

Then you need to have water, you need to eat, and you need to have warmth, she says.

Grandma without the road, grid or electricity

All of this was good for Anders Berg Stensrud in Hedal when the storm raged and the current disappeared for almost a week.

Landowner Anders Berg Stensrud in Hedalen stands in the dark between two blown trees.

FIRE WITH WOOD: Anders Berg Stensrud in Hedal is happy that both he and his grandmother have firewood. In November, Grandma’s street was closed for several days and the power went out for almost a week.

Photo: Lars Erik Skrefsrud / NRK

– My grandmother lost both the creek and the lake, the cover and everything. In addition, the road to the garden was blocked by several hundred trees. It took us a couple of days to open it so she needs to be evacuated if she ran out of firewood. Then the helicopter was our only solution to get to her, says Anders Berg Stenrud.

Events like this make Elisabeth Aarsæther crystal clear when she warns against removing the requirements for chimneys in new houses.

– It is the task of the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning to ensure that the population’s degree of self-provision increases. So we have to say no when we see that there are things that can work in the opposite direction.


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