87% of New South Wales households are not compliant with Australian fire services recommendations

Published: 3rd April 2013

NSW residents are still placing their homes at great risk of fire with only 13 per cent of NSW family households admitting to meeting Australia’s fire and emergency services’ guidelines, according to new research*.

Only 13 per cent of NSW households surveyed are testing their smoke alarms monthly with only 34% per cent changing their smoke alarm batteries annually.

Australia’s fire and emergency services, together with long-term partner Duracell, are now in their thirteenth year of urging Australians to have a working smoke alarm and a practiced home escape plan. The ‘Change your clock, change your smoke alarm battery’ campaign on 7 April continues to play an important role given that house fires are rising year-on-year.

The latest research by Duracell also revealed one in three family households had disconnected their smoke alarm to stop a “false” alarm, rendering the unit useless and putting families at risk.

“Australia’s fire and emergency services attended more than 13,000 home fires around the country in 2012. Most of these were caused by faulty electrical equipment or leaving cooking unattended,” said Superintendent Tom Cooper, Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW).

“Australians are placing themselves in danger by failing to test and check their smoke alarms, according to this latest research from Duracell,” he said.

The 2013 Duracell Fire Safety Survey* of Australian mothers also revealed:

  • Only 33 per cent of family households with a single smoke alarm test it properly (by pressing the button until the siren sounds);
  • Most house fires start in the kitchen yet 96 per cent of Australian mothers admit to multi-tasking while cooking;
  • Over half of those Australian mothers who do multi-task (59 per cent) admit to doing so on a daily basis, with the majority (97 per cent) multi-tasking while cooking at least once a week; and
  • 74 per cent of mothers who prepare the family meal admit to accidentally leaving a cooking appliance on.

To kick off the ‘Change your clock, change your smoke alarm battery’ campaign, fire and emergency services around Australia will sound their sirens as part of a national siren call to remind Australians of the importance of home fire safety and changing their smoke alarm batteries.

“Australia’s fire and emergency services and Duracell recommend using long-lasting 9 volt alkaline batteries and regularly testing alarms are working to ensure year-round protection,” said Superintendent Cooper.

  • Clean your smoke alarm with a vacuum cleaner annually to remove particles that affect smoke alarm performance.
  • Replace your smoke alarm battery annually with a long-lasting 9 volt alkaline battery.
  • Install smoke alarms in areas that will wake all occupants in the home and give them time to evacuate. For example, each sleeping area, with additional smoke alarms installed along the paths of travel to exits i.e. hallways and living areas. If you live in a house with more than one level, install a smoke alarm on the ceiling at the head of the stairway connecting the levels
  • Develop a home escape plan and practise it regularly.

FRNSW also recommends the installation of photoelectric smoke alarms in all new residential buildings, and that any replacement of existing ionisation smoke alarms should be with a photo-electric model. Smoke alarms (both battery powered and 240v hard-wired types) should be replaced after ten years as it may start to fail after this period. A year of manufacture date is displayed on all smoke alarms.

For more information on the recommendations for smoke alarm usage and fire escape plans visit www.changeyourbattery.com.au.

* National research was conducted by Galaxy Research, on behalf of Duracell, between Friday, 15 February 2013 and Wednesday, 20 February 2013. A total of 1,253 mothers of children aged 17 or younger were surveyed.