NSW residents urged to change smoke alarm batteries

Published: 1st April 2015

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Greg Mullins and NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Assistant Commissioner Steve Yorke today urged families across the state to change the batteries in their smoke alarms when they change their clocks back at the end of Daylight Saving on Sunday, 5 April.

As part of the national Change Your Clock! Change Your Smoke Alarm Battery! campaign, supported by Duracell, firefighters have a vital message – only working smoke alarms help save lives.

“Last year, NSW fire services attended thousands of home fires across the state,” FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said.

“FRNSW data reveals 13 per cent of the 3,900 home fires our firefighters responded to last year occurred in properties that did not have working smoke alarms. These 3,900 home fires resulted in 490 injuries and, tragically, 11 deaths.

“What is tragic is that more than half (56 per cent) of fatal house fires between 2000 and 2014 had no smoke alarms present. The majority of these deadly fires also occurred between midnight and 6am when people were asleep.

“A fire can take hold in just three minutes, filling your home with deadly smoke. A working smoke alarm gives you vital seconds to get out before you’re overcome.

“A smoke alarm with a flat battery is just as bad as not having a smoke alarm at all. That’s why you should change your smoke alarm battery when Daylight Saving ends on Sunday, 5 April.

NSW RFS Assistant Commissioner Steve Yorke said it was particularly important for people living in more isolated, rural areas to have working smoke alarms.

“Emergency services often have to travel considerable distances, particularly in remote areas, to respond to house fires,” he said.

“It is absolutely essential that people in rural areas have working smoke alarms, along with a practised evacuation plan.”

FRNSW and the NSW RFS recommend householders install photoelectric, interconnected and hard-wired smoke alarms. If your smoke alarm has a small yellow and black radiation symbol on the back, it is an older, less effective ionisation alarm.

In addition to the legal minimum requirement of one smoke alarm per level, smoke alarms should be installed in all bedrooms for maximum protection. Smoke alarms are also mandatory for all caravans, campervans, and other moveable dwellings where people sleep – even if the vehicle is kept off the road.

Editor’s note: Broadcast-quality vision of FRNSW test burns with activated smoke alarms can be downloaded at: https://vimeo.com/frnsw/review/121728907/3bc8517221 https://vimeo.com/frnsw/review/123684172/62604be770