Sweden Insists On Fire Alarms On Hotel Made Of Ice

from the that's-cold,-man dept

In these highly charged political times, you tend to hear the term "nanny state" thrown around quite a bit. Whether it's the mayor of a major US city lovingly playing psy-ops with citizens on vices like cigarettes and soda, or an otherwise sane nation keeping its citizens safe from the horrors of accurately depicted street view maps, the general impression is that the government in question doesn't think enough of its own people to allow them to live out their lives as they choose. And, while a simple stroll down the street might cause me to have some sympathy with their premise, most of us tend not to believe that our governments should be in the business of social-engineering our free choices (even though that's essentially the business they're in).

But sometimes a nanny state action moves beyond the mildly frustrating and into the realm of the hilarious. Reader btr1701 writes in about one such instance, in which the government of Sweden is engaging in some manner of performance art on the silliness of over-regulation by the government.

Sweden's Ice Hotel has been ordered by the National Housing Board to install fire alarms, despite being made completely out of frozen water. The Ice Hotel, which is rebuilt every year in northern Sweden out of enormous chunks of ice from the Torne River in Jukkasjärvi, Kiruna, will this year come equipped with fire alarms – and the irony isn't lost on the staff.

"We were a little surprised when we found out," hotel spokeswoman Beatrice Karlsson told The Local.
Now, before your laughter at the concept of a hotel made completely out of ice being forced to install fire alarms reaches shart-inducing levels, it should be noted that some of the decorations in the hotel are not made of ice and could conceivably catch fire. On the other hand, one would assume that such a fire wouldn't be able to spread all that much, what with it being surrounded by ice and all. There might be some minor concerns about a small fire melting the ice-based construction and bringing the whole thing crashing down I suppose, but I'm of the belief that if you're planning on staying in a hotel made of ice, you probably know the risk of that happening anyway. Or you want to punish yourself, in which case a collapse would only be helping you out.

Regulations exist for a reason, but their blanket-style approach highlights their rigidity when an ice-house needs a fire alarm.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 12:12am

    This is not a 'nanny-state' problem.

    Safety regulations are there for a reason. Without doing a completely different safety study for a single building made out of a completely different material then the National Health Board has to insist that general safety regulations are followed.

    Last time I checked smoke inhalation was still a health hazard by the way. How well is the Ice hotel vented? Well? Poorly? Can they even properly vent it? Doubtful otherwise the ice would lose it's nice defined shape by picking up the excess moisture that is introduced. Do people smoke in bed because it is cold? If there was a fire in a room how would you know which room if the person has passed out from over-drinking, smoke inhalation?

    Shame on Techdirt for this article.

     

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      Pete, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 1:41am

      Re:

      I live in the far north of Sweden and have been to the Ice Hotel several times. Although your point about smoke inhalation is a conceptually valid concern, in practice it is a non-issue.

      The amount of flammable material present in the Ice Hotel is near enough zero. Bedding is an insulating layer of reindeer skins over solid ice, atop which you snuggle into a flame-retardant sleeping bag. Now its next to impossible to set light to reindeer skin, you need something like a blowtorch to even make it smoulder... and at the ambient temperature inside the hotel, setting fire to the sleeping bag would be a challenge too - not that I can see anyone deliberately striking matches wearing mittens, whilst laying in their snug thermal bag.

      Other than that the only flammable materials in the hotel are the suitcases visitors bring, and some of the overly-expensive vodka they serve at the bar. Neither of which is likely to produce enough smoke to even inconvenience a guest considering the high ceilings and large chamber sizes.

      Risk of melting structurally significant amounts of ice is literally impossible. The blocks the hotel are made of are huge and it would require gallons of petrol to even make a dent in them.

      Really, any chance of an accidental fire is infinitesimally small; and even if somehow a fire did start, the risk posed to others is negligible. So yes, this is a case of regulatory stupidity.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 2:13am

        Re: Re:

        This is not an non-issue.

        Unless a safety study is performed for the building with specific details and the limits on what they are allowed to place inside the building and have those limits enforced then the health board will insist on standard safety regulations being followed.

        In your scenario there is nothing to stop the hotel from adding more flammable material to the building otherwise.

        Melting of the entire ice is not the problem. The problem that water over ice is very slippy and localised heat can melt part of the ice.

        "
        Really, any chance of an accidental fire is infinitesimally small; and even if somehow a fire did start, the risk posed to others is negligible. So yes, this is a case of regulatory stupidity."

        So you admit that a fire is possible but it is negligiable 'because'.

        " Neither of which is likely to produce enough smoke to even inconvenience a guest considering the high ceilings and large chamber sizes. "

        As a previous comment pointed out, smoke hangs lower in cold atmospheres. As I pointed out the ice hotel might not even be capable of exchanging air with outside. This keeps it nice and warm but would cause smoke etc to build up within the building.

        So no, it is not a case of regulatory stupidity. All different types of buildings have safety assessments. Unless this Ice hotel wants to pay to get their single building assested they can follow safety regulations made by people who actually know what they are doing.


        Here is a quick scenario. Person has a few too many drinks to "keep out the cold". Person smokes while in bed becuase it is nice and warm for their lungs. Something catchs on fire, luggage or blankets or something. Person dies from smoke inhalation that can't be vented by the building.

         

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          Andrew, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:01am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So where do they put the smoke detectors? On the roof like everyone else? Or do they have to get their building assessed because of all the other differences between it and other buildings?

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 6:53am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            No idea but these questions highlights how building a house out of ice might completely change how it should be treated from a safety perspective.

             

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          martyburns (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          becuase it is nice and warm for their lungs

          I want what you're smoking!

           

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          Pete, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:37am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well, everybody is entitled to their opinion. I myself am happy to have fire alarms in every other type of building, both public and residential, and even have my own home wired directly to the Fire Station in case of an emergency.

          However...

          This case is that one exception.

          Yes, a fire is 'possible' but only as a deliberate act of arson. To achieve it you'd need to deliberately bring the material you want to burn into the ice hotel. Since guests are strongly recommended to leave their luggage in the adjacent building's 'warm room' to prevent all the stuff from freezing, taking anything into your room is noticeable to staff... let alone several dozen faggots, some split logs and a jerry-can of petrol.

          Though why anyone would travel to the very north of Sweden to attempt such a half-arsed arson attack is beyond me. The Swedes themselves stick to schools and giant straw goats...

          http://observers.france24.com/content/20121221-christmas-gavle-goat-sweden-burnt

          Inside the Ice Hotel accidental fires won't start from struck sparks (no suitable surfaces and too sub-zero), open flames (none allowed), dropped butts (again too cold and top-of-the-line retardant bedding, if smoking was permitted anyhow) or even faulty electrical devices (there are no electrical outlets).

          As for asphyxiation, every room is well ventilated to prevent moisture build-up inside, which can cause frost from exhaled air to mar the crystal clear ice sculptures. So there is no chance of smoke depressing temperature inversions within.

          Indeed none of the rooms even possess doors - sleeping chambers are closed off with thin curtains - which you might rightly point out are also combustible, but are located in positions where again they are impossible to set alight unless via deliberate arson, in which case (like all modern upholstery) they'd smoulder and any small amount of fumes produced would be insignificant due to the internal volume of the chambers and the ventilation.

          Your scenario would be more likely to result thusly:
          - Stupid person has too much to drink then goes out into the cold to see the aurora, passes out in a snowdrift and freezes to death.
          - Average person has too much to drink, tries to light a cigarette and sets their gloves alight by accident. Goes to hospital.
          - Clever person has too much to drink, takes off gloves to light cigarette, then is thrown out of hotel for breaking the strict no smoking laws.
          - Very clever person has too much to drink, cunningly retreats to room for a secret smoke, draws curtain, removes gloves, snuggles into sleeping bag and falls asleep mid-puff. Butt drops onto either reindeer furs or sleeping bag, fails to ignite either. Person wakes up with frostbite and pays three huge bills, the first for charring damage to the bedding, the second a fine for breaking Swedish law, and the third for his overseas medical bills for the frostbite treatment - I say overseas as no Scandinavian would be sooo damn stupid as to try to smoke in a hotel bed in the first place!

          To help you folks understand how unlikely any sort of fire, let alone a serious one is, here's a few shots of what it looks like inside...

          http://cdn.home-reviews.com/2011/07/unique-ice-hotel-in-sweden-4.jpg

          http://sites.uci.edu/jb log/files/2013/01/Ice-Hotel-Restaurant.jpg

          http://www.hotelclub.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/i cehotel1.jpg

           

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            Niall (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            'Overseas' wouldn't apply to any EU nationals with reciprocal health service arrangements, and wouldn't be Swedes. We'd like to be pegged somewhere closer to you between the 'canny' Scandinavians and the numpty USAers please!

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Yes, a fire is 'possible' but only as a deliberate act of arson. To achieve it you'd need to deliberately bring the material you want to burn into the ice hotel. Since guests are strongly recommended to leave their luggage in the adjacent building's 'warm room' to prevent all the stuff from freezing, taking anything into your room is noticeable to staff... let alone several dozen faggots, some split logs and a jerry-can of petrol."

            So Arson is possible then. You should have a fire alarm.

            So everything flammable is in one room? Sounds like a good place for a fire to start.

            "Inside the Ice Hotel accidental fires won't start from struck sparks (no suitable surfaces and too sub-zero), open flames (none allowed), dropped butts (again too cold and top-of-the-line retardant bedding, if smoking was permitted anyhow) or even faulty electrical devices (there are no electrical outlets)."

            You are only arguing that a fire is less likely, not that is impossible. Also laptops etc don't require electrical outlets.


            The rest of your entire argument can be summed up as: Fire is less likely so zero precautions are necessary.

            Of course there is no safety audit for a building made (mostly) of ice, hence the Health board is going with their best judgement and insisting on the minimum safety measures.

             

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              Brazenly Anonymous, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The argument actually has two levels of restrictions to overcome. First, deliberate arson is necessary to create a threat. Second, even with deliberate arson the damage will isolated to a single room, placing only the arson at any real risk.

              The amount of damage necessary for fire to become an issue in an environment that already requires substantial additional precautions, would render the warning of a smoke alarm rather ineffective. Alarms that give false positives regularly will be ignored. A case needs to be made for the inclusion of the alarms, not the other way around.

               

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            btrussell (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:11pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "...several dozen faggots..."

            Would they be flaming? That could generate a lot of heat!

             

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        The Prick, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 2:56am

        Re: Re:

        So, what's the current price of about 100 battery operated home smoke detectors?

        Since, seriously, I suspect that's all they need to suit the legislation. One for each room, and a few for the main rooms and halls. Compared to the costs associated with the running of the hotel, that's gotta be pretty cheap.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 3:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          home smoke detectors are usually installed by drilling holes for their fixing screws into walls/ceilings...

          i wonder how well would that go when one's walls and ceiling are made of ice.

           

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            The Prick, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 11:14am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Pretty well actually, I've screwed things into ice before. You use woodscrews and a drill with a screw bit. Works pretty well.

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 5:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm not from Sweden, but I believe building code in the US states that any public service building must have a wired system such that an alarm in one room will set off all the other alarms. Not cheap.

           

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        Violynne (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 3:37am

        Re: Re:

        First, I'm extremely disappointed this comment was flagged by the community as being "insightful", which just gave me reason to lose faith in the community... by a tad.

        Second, as many stated, your opinion is on the presumption that a fire would never break out, and if it did, it wouldn't affect much.

        That's utter nonsense. If someone brought something in that suitcase which, if burned, presented toxic smoke, that is a legitimate and viable threat.

        While I certainly won't dismiss your probability, it's still just that: a probability.

        While I served in the military, I learned there are many more things harmful than an actual fire. Fumes and heat (especially by burning magnesium) are more major threats than a flame.

        So this, despite Tim's assessment, is *not* a stupid decision.

         

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        Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 3:57am

        Re: Re:

        "Although your point about smoke inhalation is a conceptually valid concern, in practice it is a non-issue."

        Thank you for chiming in here. I read the article that I linked to (obviously) and rather assumed the commenters would as well. Guess I was wrong....

         

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          PaulT (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:19am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I read the article that I linked to (obviously) and rather assumed the commenters would as well."

          I read the link. It was an opinion piece from a political blog that contained no real extra information. The linked back to thelocal.se, which admitted both that there were flammable materials in the building and that the hotel isn't particularly bothered about following the rules:

          "Karlsson at the hotel isn't concerned about the new changes, and admitted that it was just a matter of adaptation."

          If the hotel isn't bothered about the changes required, then why is anyone else? It's true that the risk is minimal, but it's also non-zero. So why the fuss over something that even your original link notes would come across far more stringent building restrictions if it was in the US?

           

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            Brazenly Anonymous, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It's true that the risk is minimal, but it's also non-zero.


            And the risk of the alarm system shorting out and causing damage is also non-zero. Given the unique environment, the short is probably a greater threat.

             

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      Aaron Wolf, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 6:35pm

      Re:

      Shame on you for being more of a computer than a human. Check out https://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_using_our_practical_wisdom.html

      The answer is obviously that someone should have just had the wisdom to make an exception knowing full well that an exception in this case would not be a precedent for any other exception arguments.

       

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        nasch (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 10:45pm

        Re: Re:

        The answer is obviously that someone should have just had the wisdom to make an exception knowing full well that an exception in this case would not be a precedent for any other exception arguments.

        If we could trust bureaucrats to make the right decision all the time, we wouldn't need regulations to begin with. The rules can't be "buildings must have safety features A B and C unless the inspector decides they're not necessary" which is what you're suggesting. Besides the problem of varying levels of competence and wisdom, it would practically guarantee corruption.

         

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    Prisoner 201, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 12:12am

    I guess it could be because the smoke from a fairly small fire can kill you in your sleep, and even if the whole thing is ice it might be a good idea to wake up and leave the room if the nightstand is on fire or whatever.

     

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    toyotabedzrock (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 12:21am

    There is a reason

    They use plenty of very flammable bedding in structures that would allow smoke to build quickly.

    Further, you can't run on ice and if it melts it may crush you. They tend to use very elaborate shapes that would be unstable if part of it melted away.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 12:26am

      Re: There is a reason

      Yup, about to say that.

      And I'll add that the electric blankets and so on adds to the danger of catching fire too. Plus that unlike ordinary buildings, buildings made with ice is more likely to suffer structural damage (melt) on fire therefore people live inside will have lesser time to run.

      I second that it doesn't sounds "too much free time" to me.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 1:16am

        Re: Re: There is a reason

        I wonder if they can even put many air vents in the building without compromising the structural integrity. If not then there is the worry that any fire will not only build up smoke, CO2 and CO but will also cause oxygen depletion by increasing the internal pressure of the building's atmosphere and 'chase out' the oxygen.

         

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    PaulT (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 1:18am

    Erm, yeah this isn't really that stupid. As noted, things in the hotel can catch fire even if the usual installations will not. A strong fire could potentially be even more dangerous than normal (fires in normal buildings wouldn't cause the floors and walls to quickly melt, for example) and so people might have less time to react before things become hazardous or structural integrity becomes compromised. Plus, the walls not being directly flammable doesn't mean that smoke inhalation and other hazards are suddenly removed from the equation, as others have noted above.

    It might sounds silly, and you could argue that the fire is far less likely to spread than in a standard construction, but it makes sense if public safety is your main concern.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 1:21am

    See, this is why the law is there in the first place

    http://www.nfpa.org/press-room/reporters-guide-to-fire-and-nfpa/consequences-of-fire#fumes

    "Most fire deaths are not caused by burns, but by smoke inhalation. Often smoke incapacitates so quickly that people are overcome and can’t make it to an otherwise accessible exit. The synthetic materials commonplace in today’s homes produce especially dangerous substances."

    "Lighted tobacco products — almost always cigarettes — are the leading cause of fatal fires in the home, causing 700 to 900 deaths each year. They are the leading cause of fire deaths in any location, in the United States and every other country where sufficient data is collected. Typically, abandoned or carelessly discarded smoking materials ignite trash, bedding or upholstered furniture. Most fatal smoking-related fires start in the living room, family room or den, rather than the bedroom."

    So unless this hotel has no furniture or they actually forbid taking cigarettes inside then yes fire can happen and it can kill people without burning anything down.

     

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      PRMan, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 12:22pm

      Re: See, this is why the law is there in the first place

      The furniture is made of ice and they actually forbid taking cigarettes inside.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 1:25am

    Got to agree with other posters, in fact when you consider that the building is made of ice there is probably a case to be made for more for detection than normal.

    The colder the building the lower the smoke may sit.

    One could say your article is portly thought out knee jerk stuff, I expect better from you really, leave that sort of stuff to fox news and the like please.

     

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      The Prick, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 2:42am

      Re:

      Techdirt's really been off it's game lately. It was good a few years ago (Though when the SOPA thing happened it got a bit obsessive I couldn't fault that). But these days it seems like every article is either about the NSA, sucks, or both >.

       

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        PaulT (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 2:55am

        Re: Re:

        Just curious - what specific NSA stories do you think that Techdirt should be ignoring, and which other stories do you think they should have been talking about instead? This particular story is a little silly, but it's not related to the NSA either so what else is there to be discussing that you think is being missed?

         

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          The Prick, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 10:48am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I think techdirt should be ignoring the stories that are basically repeating a story that they told once before. Which feels like about a third of the NSA stories.

          I don't like all the repeats, alright?

           

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            PaulT (profile), Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 1:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "I think techdirt should be ignoring the stories that are basically repeating a story that they told once before. Which feels like about a third of the NSA stories."

            I disagree. Most of the new stories are based on new revelations, new data, new actions taken by the people involved in the story or new quotes by those people and those related.

            True, a lot of the stories cover the same ground, but should they be ignored just because they're happening a lot? This is an ongoing story and as an opinion blog rather than a primary news source, TD can only look at what's available when it's available.

            "I don't like all the repeats, alright?"

            Fair enough. But, to my memory, this is how the site has always worked. Sometimes it's repeated discussion on DRM, business models, patents, Aaron Swatz, SOPA, NSA - whatever the current subject of most interest is. If you don't like reading them, skip to the next one. I'm sure other stories will take precedent if people aren't clicking on the stories they don't like.

             

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 5:39am

        Re: Re:

        Don't like it?
        Don't read it.

        Simple really.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 6:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Enjoyment level is typically not strictly binary. You can like something enough to continue reading it but still feel it has significant room for improvement.

           

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    The Prick, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 2:30am

    Makes sense

    It seriously makes sense to me to put fire alarms on a building made out of ice, provided that building contains flamable materials. I would like to hasten to add that people's clothing is a flamable material. Since people generally do not travel in public while nude, this means that people are kinda-sorta flammable.

    So any building with people in it contains flammable materials and should have a smoke detector, unless people are only allowed to enter the stone, furnatureless building while nude, and then you should have a smoke detector near the large pile of clothing outside the door.

     

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      PRMan, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 12:24pm

      Re: Makes sense

      The building is not made of stone. It's made of ice. And flammable materials including cigarettes are strictly forbidden.

       

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        The Prick, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 10:38pm

        Re: Re: Makes sense

        My argument remains unchanged. I used stone as an example because it's a more common building material, and because I cannot imagine people voluntarily going naked and leaving their flammable clothing behind in an ice building.

         

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        BernardoVerda (profile), Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 12:13am

        Re: Re: Makes sense

        "The building is not made of stone. It's made of ice. And flammable materials including cigarettes are strictly forbidden."

        And why, exactly, do you suppose such things are forbidden?
        After all, the ice-hotel is soooo safe.

        And if you've ever worked in any sort of service industry job (including hotel, staff accommodation, student accommodation or residential program) you would appreciate that just because something is "against the rules" doesn't mean nobody will do it (and in fact, often the subterfuges employed to circumvent the rules are even more problematic than whatever was banned in the first place).

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 2:40am

    Make the fire alarm out of ice? :)

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 3:02am

    Not Fire Alarms, But Smoke Alarms

    The number-one cause of death in domicile fires is smoke inhalation. How much fire do you need to produce a deadly amount of smoke? Not much at all.

     

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    eaving (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 3:03am

    As was said over and over and over again, I'm pretty sure your ice hotel is going to be well stocked on warm fuzzy blankets and while I don't know the exact number of warm fuzzy blankets you need to burn in a small room to die of smoke inhalation I have to suspect the number is pretty low. Sure we can all go 'fire in an ice building. Hur hur' but if we rephrase it 'not dying of smoke inhalation in your sleep' it seems rather a tad more reasonable.

     

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      PRMan, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 12:25pm

      Re:

      Reindeer skins really don't burn all that well.

       

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        The Prick, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 10:40pm

        Re: Re:

        The article it's self disagrees with you stating that reindeer skins are, in fact, flammable.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 1:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          All I can say is that Beatrice Karlsson is not only woefully ignorant of the mandatory requirements for all hotel furnishings in Sweden to be cigarette-proof, but also of the indigenous Sami culture from whom the bedding and seating ideas were taken.

          If reindeer skins were flammable, then I don't think the Sami would have been using them to sleep upon right next to the fire, inside their lavvu tents (also made from reindeer skins for thousands of years), else every stray spark from the fires would have created a death trap.

           

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    identicon
    AM, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 3:35am

    Shame

    You've let yourselves down here, Techdirt. I second most of the comments here, especially those that acknowledge most people die in fires from breathing smoke.

    I'm taken aback by your shortsightedness.

     

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    identicon
    Frank, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:30am

    not just about a fire

    It doesn't have to be about a fire at all. If it any kind of non-electric heat, there's a real risk of CO leak. No fire or smoke anywhere, but it can be just as deadly.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:33am

    I hate to say it, but anyone in a building made of ice should be very afraid of fire. It could cause the entire structure to collapse in on itself.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:50am

    Concrete and Steel

    You know what else doesn't burn very well? Concrete and steel. Therefore, concrete and steel buildings should be exempt from fire codes. After all, there's no way fire could be a problem in one of those. But of course, the nanny state will say otherwise.
    /s

     

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    identicon
    josh, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 5:09am

    sometimes the government does get it right…..sometimes.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 5:24am

    As several people here have noted, the greatest danger in any residential fire is smoke inhalation.

    Unless the total amount of flammable material in a room is substantially less than that required to produce a dangerous quantity of carbon monoxide, then smoke/fire alarms MUST be installed, period. (Kerosene heaters and gas ovens regularly kill scores of people without setting the house on fire)

    The idea that any fire would always be self-extinguished by melting ice - before high levels of CO are reached - is not only a dangerously foolish theory, but highly unlikely.

    Sorry, Techdirt, but you blew it!

     

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    identicon
    Mike D, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 5:27am

    I disagree with over regulation too, but

    This story is a stretch.

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 5:49am

    Well, Timmy, this bit of fluff pretty much "back-fired" on you.

    When you've got even regulars writing "So this, despite Tim's assessment, is *not* a stupid decision."

    Techdirt! When tired of substance, get fluffed here!

    01:48:43[b-305-7]

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 8:25am

      Re: Well, Timmy, this bit of fluff pretty much "back-fired" on you.

      Why did you put backfired in quotes?

      Also, do you know what it means to get 'fluffed'?

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 6:22am

    Working in the oil and has industry we always place fire detectors in buildings. Which can be a little ridiculous. Crude oil basically requires a blow torch to ignite. The building is made from sheet metal.

    The chance of fire is basically on par with your ice hotel.

    Thing is, fire detection technology is cheap compared to the costs of killing someone.

    Why take the chance?

     

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    nonanymous, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 6:31am

    This is a stupid article just like most of them on this topic.

    The danger of fires is not just flames, but also smoke. Smoke kills more people than actual burning fire and it doesn't matter what the hotel is made of for the smoke to occur in dangerous amount.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 6:52am

    We need to get Mike Masnick's opinion on this:

    A. Are smoke alarms a reasonable safety precaution in *any* hotel?

    *OR*

    B. Is it not only unnecessary, but something that would spoil the novelty and daring of sleeping in a building made completely of ice?

    Disclaimer: I was nearby when hundreds of people were killed and injured in the MGM Grand Hotel fire.

     

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      PaulT (profile), Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 1:29am

      Re:

      "We need to get Mike Masnick's opinion on this"

      Why?

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 5:45pm

        Re: Re:

        because he is "editor-in-chief" of TD and is therefore responsible for the quality and integrity of the articles presented here.

        He should of stoped this article before it was posted..

        TD has dropped another few levels of integrity, well into the negative numbers now.

        But not unexpected.

         

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    identicon
    roarshock44, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:05am

    this certainly sounds ridiculous but may not be.

    my issue is with building fire exit maps that are required to exist but not required to be turned the direction a panicked reader is facing.  that's nuts.  in a fire, you don't have time to study a map calmly and discover its orientation.  every such map should be developed such that up on the map is the direction the reader is facing. that is not a requirement, at least where i've been.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:23am

      Re:

      In general an "innkeper" is required to post emergency information in each room, often found convieniently on the back of the door.

      Any guest is required to review that emergency information prior to inhabiting the room.

      If you leave it to the "panicked reader" stage; well you only have yourself to blame...

       

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      Gwiz (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 8:35am

      Re:

      every such map should be developed such that up on the map is the direction the reader is facing.


      So basically you need to "get in the map" like Joey on Friends in order for it to make sense to you. Got it.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUK8UXwX4dc

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 12:01am

      Re: #43

      "my issue is with building fire exit maps that are required to exist but not required to be turned the direction a panicked reader is facing. that's nuts. in a fire, you don't have time to study a map calmly and discover its orientation. every such map should be developed such that up on the map is the direction the reader is facing. that is not a requirement, at least where i've been."

      I've noticed that myself, and it really bugs me.

      The official response is generally that guests/visitors (even employees) should check out the posted map at the beginning of their stay -- and that it's THEIR responsibility to do so.

      Personally, I find that response distinctly inadequate.

       

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    identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:12am

    A Potentially Deadly Icehouse Fire in 1913

    You might look at Vilhjalmur Stefansson's _Unsolved Mysteries of the Arctic_ (1938). In the year 1913, Stefansson, an explorer/anthropologist in the Canadian Arctic, was nearly asphyxiated inside an Igloo. He was using a Primus gas stove, which was advertised as clean, so you could use it anywhere, to cook dinner, but he started feeling inexplicable "stoned," so he got the hell out of there, just in the nick of time. The Inuit method is to use firestones. You heat the stones to several hundred degrees in a fire _outside_, and then carry them into the Igloo, using a suitable tool made for the purpose. As Stefansson emphasized, over and over again, any attempt to impose white man's methods on the Arctic is a form of suicide. The only way to prosper in the Arctic is to go methodically native.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:15am

    I wonder if they'd insist on ice alarms for hotels made of fire.

     

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    Wally (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:22am

    Two words as to why fire alarms are needed in an ice castle..

    Grease fire...

     

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    nasch (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 8:00am

    Even if

    Even if the danger of a fire is so tiny as to be negligible, the correct course of action depends on how the regulation is written. If it doesn't have any allowance for the authority to make exceptions, then they have to enforce it, even for an ice hotel. You cannot have regulatory authorities ignoring laws when they decide it's not important enough. Obviously I don't know anything about Swedish law, but in general it seems like drafters of safety regulations aren't big on writing in discretionary enforcement.

     

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      identicon
      Pete, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 8:27am

      Re: Even if

      ...and that is the issue behind this. The owner doesn't have any choice and must conform to the local authority's rules. Fair enough, so he must compromise somewhat on the interior aesthetics to conform to the ruling.

      Yet the very fact that it became a story in the Swedish media is indicative as to how superfluous most people think the rule is in _this particular case_. If folks thought it was sensible or necessary, it would never reached the papers.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 8:49am

    So far the people argueing for fire codes are the people who either havent read the article or haven't been there.

    Nice.

    There's nothing burnable in those rooms, you get the sleeping bag and reindeer skin. Melting the ice is NOT an issue, for those who keep bringing up the structural integrity of the ice. As long as it's done right, no risk of smoke inhalation or collapse is possible to the building from any contained fire.

    I don't know about many of you, but in my big concrete and steel buildings, everything is layered in carpet, the walls are made of flammable materials and plastics, doors are wood, etc. This is a building made of ice, there is not stuff that is non-ice everywhere. That's the point.

     

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      nasch (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 10:03am

      Re:

      As long as it's done right, no risk of smoke inhalation or collapse is possible to the building from any contained fire.

      Wouldn't it be best to assume things are not being done right? That way if you're wrong then someone has incurred some extra expense. If you assume it's being done right and you're wrong, people could die. That's basically the whole point of safety regulations: we don't trust businesses to do everything right on their own.

       

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      icon
      PaulT (profile), Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 1:33am

      Re:

      "So far the people argueing for fire codes are the people who either havent read the article"

      Since I wasn't answered before - why do you make this assumption? Does the reality that people have done so but reached a different conclusion pain people so much?

      "There's nothing burnable in those rooms"

      Then why does the original source state:

      "There are indeed things that can catch fire"?

       

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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 9:58am

    Calm Down There.

    Please. You all need to watch this documentary I found about a catastrophe at a hotel made of ice.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0246460/

    What will a few smoke (and probably water) alarms hurt? Nothing that's what.

     

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    identicon
    RichWa, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 1:54pm

    It's not the Fire

    It's potentially dangerous gases that a fire could release. One can die of carbon monoxide, toxic fumes from a petrochemical curtain, etc without having a big fire or a spreading fire. Most people are long dead from the fumes given off during a fire before the fire reaches them.

     

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    identicon
    Stranger, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 11:12pm

    Who would think...

    Who would think that a small article about smoke detectors would be the most controversial article on techdirt this week.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 5:56am

      Re: Who would think...

      Anytime someone (recklessly) mocks an issue of personal safety, people will respond vigorously to set the record straight.

      In this case, the author completely neglected to recognize the primary purpose of hotel smoke alarms -- which is saving sleeping people from smoke inhalation, rather than preventing the building from burning down.

      It's in the issue of public safety why there are rules and regulations for all kinds of things that people often don't agree with -- from seat belts to helmets ... to even condoms (thank you Anna Ardin).

       

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        identicon
        The Prick, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 11:17am

        Re: Re: Who would think...

        Haw, that's true. Hey that reminds me: Why the hell are buses not required by law to have seatbelts? Holy shit we need more nanny state up in that! All the schoolbusses I was on as a kid had no seatbelts! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

        Also most city busses don't either.

        All humor aside, I think it's a seriously major issue and don't understand why people don't protest in the streets regularly about how bus companies apparently don't care enough about their safety to install a few hundred dollars worth of anchors and straps in each bus.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 11:48am

          Re: Re: Re: Who would think...

          I doubt that any bus in Israel will EVER have seat belts.

          As far as mounting smoke detectors in ice, there's no need to drill holes and install screws. Just spit and press. :)

           

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          nasch (profile), Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 12:36pm

          Re: Re: Re: Who would think...

          All humor aside, I think it's a seriously major issue and don't understand why people don't protest in the streets regularly about how bus companies apparently don't care enough about their safety to install a few hundred dollars worth of anchors and straps in each bus.

          Because it's not a seriously major issue. Buses rarely get into accidents worse than a fender bender because A) (I hope) bus drivers are trained better than your average driver and B) they're enormous and so other drivers notice them. Secondly, even if they are in an accident, odds are it will be with a vehicle that weighs much, much less, so the acceleration (in the physics sense) of the bus (and so its passengers) will be small. Therefore, not much need for seatbelts.

          The exceptions are buses driving (sorry, careening) off of mountain roads, and buses colliding with tractor trailers or other very large vehicles. Neither of which happens very often, at least in the US. Or if it does I'm blissfully unaware. :-)

           

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 6:01pm

    Tim and TD, you write unthinking crap like this, then why would you expect us to take seriously anything else you write about.

    As some (your regular readers and fans too) have noted, TD has degraded significantly recently, its the place to go for a laugh about whatever is upsetting you NSA, Prenda and whatever else,, people are sick of it.

    You written about NSA so much no one here can form their own opinion, and it appears TD has no opinion, just endlessly dribbling on about the same issues over and over and over and over and over and over again!!!

    After 10 times people have shut down on the issues they are not interested in what you are saying because it is what you are always saying, you just keep saying the same things over and over and over and over and over and over again.

    See how that gets annoying fast ??

    I liked the Australian response to accusations of spying..

    "Everyone spies,, get over it".

     

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    •  
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      nasch (profile), Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 6:52pm

      Re:

      As some (your regular readers and fans too) have noted, TD has degraded significantly recently, its the place to go for a laugh about whatever is upsetting you NSA, Prenda and whatever else,, people are sick of it.

      If you hate it so much, why do you still read it? I almost wish I had so much time on my hands that I found it worthwhile to read blogs I don't like. But not quite.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2013 @ 1:27am

        Re: Re:

        The comments section is for discussing the topic. It's not supposed to be a general-purpose gateway for launching angry tirades about why you hate Techdirt (but read it anyway).

         

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous, Nov 23rd, 2013 @ 3:51pm

      Re:

      "Everyone spies, get over it". You can get a pair of video-recording sunglasses at Wal-Mart for $40.00. Just sayin'...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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