NSW kids at risk in home fires - Minister for Emergency Services launches Major Community Partnership

Published: 19th July 2009

New research revealing one-third of New South Wales children wouldn’t know what to do in a home fire1, has prompted leading insurer GIO and the NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) to urge parents to teach their children about the importance of home fire safety these school holidays.

The research was released as the Minister for Emergency Services, Steve Whan, officially launched a three-year Major Community Partnership between the NSWFB and leading insurance company, GIO.

Executive General Manager GIO Personal Insurance John Rogers said fire danger was a very real risk for NSW families and preparation was key to avoiding a disaster.

"House fires in NSW most commonly start in the kitchen with cooking the leading cause, so it is concerning to learn that almost 10 per cent of parents allow their children to cook unsupervised," Mr Rogers said.

"GIO's research also shows that one in four NSW residents have experienced a home fire at some point, so it is alarming to find that nearly one-quarter of parents admit they have not spoken to their children about fire safety.

"In fact, GIO's research found that only 41 per cent of NSW residents said they had a fire escape plan in place so that all family members would know what to do in the event of a fire.

"As one of NSW leading home insurers, GIO is committed to home protection and our partnership with the NSWFB means we can help create greater public awareness of home fire safety education," Mr Rogers said.

Mr Whan said the partnership between GIO and NSWFB would focus on the vital issue of promoting fire safety awareness across NSW.

"This will help build on the NSWFB's existing range of excellent community education programs, such as its pre-school program delivering simple fire safety messages to three to five-year-olds and its primary school program to teach children in infants grades about fire prevention and safety.

"The Fire Brigades also works non-stop to educate the community about fire safety through a range of campaigns highlighting the risk of fires in the home and the crucial need for families to have smoke alarms and home escape plans.

"In recent weeks firefighters have been working around the State to alert people to the higher risk of fires in the home in winter, particularly from fires starting in the kitchen or from heating equipment such as heaters and fireplaces.

"In the lead-up to winter, firefighters held a series of seminars and workshops to spread the safety message to groups around NSW including senior citizens, culturally diverse communities, the Dubbo Mosque and community service providers.

"I welcome GIO's commitment to the safety of our community by working with the Fire Brigades through this important new partnership,” Mr Whan said.

NSWFB Deputy Commissioner Ken Thompson said that the school holidays were the perfect time for the whole family to get together to discuss fire prevention measures and develop a home fire escape plan.

"A home fire can be devastating and potentially fatal, so adequate safety equipment and education can make all the difference.

"Families should develop a home fire escape plan - identifying two exits from each room where possible - and ensure they practice it regularly with all family members, especially young children.

"We are grateful for the support of GIO and believe together we can make NSW communities even safer and help families protect their homes against the risk of fire," Deputy Commissioner Thompson said.

Mr Rogers said GIO was pleased to join with the NSWFB to promote the importance of home fire safety across NSW.

"By arming NSW residents with the information they need to minimise fire risks around the home, we hope to help them protect their families as well as the homes and lifestyles they have worked so hard to build," Mr Rogers concluded.

Follow these simple steps to keep your kids safe in the kitchen:
  • Keep young children away from the stove top and oven when cooking
  • Never leave cooking unattended on the stovetop
  • Turn pot and pan handles inwards so they won't be knocked over
  • Install a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen and know how to use them
  • Ensure that all cooking appliances are turned off after use
More information on kitchen fire safety can be found at www.fire.nsw.gov.au