Seniors - plan your fire escape

Published: 24th March 2011

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Greg Mullins has encouraged older residents around the State to take the time during Seniors Week to prepare their homes to prevent fires and draw up a fire escape plan.
Commissioner Mullins said FRNSW would launch a new DVD, Better Safe Than Sorry, during Seniors Week, outlining essential fire safety steps seniors should take around their homes.

"The DVD, narrated by Henri Szeps, the co-star of the award winning ABC TV series Mother and Son, will be available through local libraries and on the FRNSW and University of the Third Age (U3A) websites. It also available for loan at local fire stations," he said.

"As well as providing seniors with self-help advice, it will also help our fire officers to educate seniors groups on home fire prevention."

Commissioner Mullins said fire experts had identified a number of troubling factors that contributed to fires in older residents’ homes.

"Tragically those aged over 65 still make up one in three fire deaths in NSW. The home kitchen is still the origin of almost half of these fires, most frequently the result of unattended cooking.

"In a recent FRNSW survey, seniors were asked about their perceptions on fire safety. Many incorrectly thought they had up to five minutes to escape - they actually have less than half that time.

"Many respondents also admitted they were complacent about adopting fire safety practices, despite being more likely than the rest of the population to have fire extinguishers and fire blankets," he said.

Commissioner Mullins said fire authorities encouraged all residents to prepare a home escape plan, making sure their exit way was clear and that keys were placed in the inside locks of doors to make their escape easier in the event of fire.

"Overall we've found that installing a working smoke alarm, taking care when cooking and heating and having a practised escape plan greatly increases seniors' chances of surviving fires," he said.

"We also encourage seniors to participate in our Smoke Alarm Battery Replacement for the Elderly program, SABRE, in which FRNSW firefighters change and maintain the smoke alarm batteries for people aged 65 years and older and immobile residents."

The Better Safe Than Sorry DVD will be launched at City of Sydney Fire Station at 10.30am on March 25. You can view the DVD here.

Other FRNSW initiatives during Seniors’ Week 2011 include:

  • Promoting fire safety at the Premier's Gala Concert series.
  • Seniors' Open Day at Hornsby Fire Station on Thursday, 24 March.
  • From March 20 to 26 there is free entry for seniors at the Museum of Fire, 1 Museum Drive, Penrith, NSW.
For more information: