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Developments Ill-Equipped for Fires

Only 2 percent of the cottages in Russia are equipped with fire alarms, according to Gulfstream Security Systems.

Issues of fire security should be taken into account at all stages of rebuilding suburban housing developments, as well as during occupation, developers said. There is not a single village in the Moscow region that would 100 percent meet standards for fire safety, according to participants at a home safety forum.

"It's typically like this: An architect creates a 'correct' design with fire zones, but the developer looks at it and understands that he is losing too much space," said Valentina Filonova, chief executive of Askvel.

Then begins the design's "adaptation." For example, there should be 20 meters between the fence and the forest, but developments get "embedded" into the forest because plots with trees are the most expensive and best sellers, she said.

The Moscow region fires have forced suburban developers to purchase fire alarm systems and alert residents to the necessity of fire extinguishers in the home, as well as familiarize them with an emergency evacuation plan, said Oleg Parishsky, project director at Volzhskiye Dachi. After this summer, fire lessons may even be held, he said.

Housing developments need to be protected not only from natural fires, but from arson as well, said Anna Shishkina, head of marketing at Absolut Management.

"We erected a fence around one of our developments, but local residents didn't want to walk the extra 100 meters to get to the forests. Recently, they tried to light the fence on fire," she said.

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