Holiday camping and caravan fire safety
As of 25th February 2011, under changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation, smoke alarms must be installed in all new and existing moveable dwellings where people sleep (regardless of whether they are registered for road use or not). These include caravans, campervans, holiday vans, park van annexes and associated structures. This does not include tents or camper trailers. Smoke alarms must comply with Australian Standard AS 3786, be fitted with a hush button, and installed according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Owners were given six months grace to install smoke alarms in their moveable dwellings. Penalties now apply for any breaches after the grace period. These include on the spot fines of $200, with a maximum penalty of $550 if the matter goes to court.
The fire services recommend this simple safety checklist to assist you to have a safer holiday.
- When planning to use a caravan ensure that you turn off any pilot lights before towing or when the towing vehicles engine is running.
- Install a smoke alarm close to the sleeping area and consider having a fire extinguisher and fire blanket near the exit as well.
- At camp sites familiarise yourself with any fire routines or equipment installed and locate a safe refuge place in case of a bushfire.
- Gas cylinders on caravans should be external, secure, with valves facing away from the van. You should regularly check gas pipes and connectors are in good working order, particularly after driving on country roads.
- Keep heaters away from the internal fittings in caravans.
- Have a portable radio to keep updated regarding weather conditions and fire restrictions that may be in force.
- Never cook or smoke in tents and consider buying a flame retardant tent.
- Locate campfires downwind and a safe distance from any tents.
- Turn off any lanterns and extinguish campfires before going to bed.
- Never leave cooking unattended and always secure any matches and lighters.
- If your caravan catches fire, 'once you get out – stay out' and dial Triple Zero (000). Develop a fire escape plan that considers all occupants of a caravan and practice it.
- Install a smoke alarm in the caravan and test before leaving on holiday and once a week when the caravan is in use. Test it monthly and change the batteries yearly.
- A photo electric type smoke alarm with a hush button (that desensitises the alarm for a short period during cooking), and powered by a 10 year life, non-removable, non-replaceable battery, is recommended.
In an Emergency Call Triple Zero (000)
A collaboration of the Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service, ACT Fire Brigade and ACT Rural Fire Service