Norwegian Language Blog

Fires in Norway Posted by on Dec 25, 2010 in Uncategorized


I have always been astounded by the amount of coverage branner (fires) get in the Norwegian media.  I swear in every Norwegian newspaper I open, there is an article about a brann.  I used to think that perhaps there isn’t enough other interesting stuff to share with the public, so stories about branner naturally get a lot of attention.  I don’t actually think this is true.  After a bit of research, I feel a little silly having not thought of this on my own.  There are so many branner (for such a small population) because so many buildings are made either partially or completely of tre (wood)!  Of course there are going to be more branner.


It wasn’t until the 19th century that large cities began to establish their own brann departementer.  The Oslo Fire and Rescue Services Department (Brann og redningsetaten), for instance, was founded in 1861 and protects over 500,000 inhabitants.  There are over 400 employees and 8 brann stasjoner within the department.  Oslo is a unique capital city with regards to firefighting.  Workers for the Fire Department can expect to be called to a small one story building in downtown Oslo or they could be fighting a forest fire within the 90+ mile radius of forest land.

Before the 19th century and even afterwards, Norwegians had to deal with highly flammable buildings (sometimes tre through and through), frost, significant heating to keep homes warm, etc.  The reason why I thought about writing about branner in Norway right now is because I recently saw an article in Aftenposten about branner and jul.  Jul is the høysesong (high season) for brann because of all the elektrisk belysning (electric lighting)and levende lys (literally ´living light,´AKA open flame) that people have in their homes to create the cozy Christmas feeling.  The time between lille julaften and nyttårsaften is statistically the highest risk for branner, but otherwise weekends in desember and januar during the winter are also very susceptible months for many branner.


In Oslo every year there are over 400 homes that are destroyed by branner, one quarter of which occur in desember or januar.  The more startling statistikk is that men living in Finnmark have the highest likelihood of not surviving a brann.  If you are interested in checking out the article and trying to decipher it and look at the graphs, click here!

Use caution especially during julesesongen whether you have a trehus or not!

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. Deanna Egeland Dowell:

    When I went to Norway in 2006 (first time), I couldn’t believe all the open lighted candles. Candelobra candles in the lobbies of hotels, open candles at each table in restaurants, candles in shops, little open pot fires outside next to many shops, many lit candles in homes on every table, stand, and desk.
    Didn’t they know I was clumsey?!?!!?