Commissioner's message on Spring Clean for a Safer Home campaign

Published: 1st September 2006

Spring is traditionally a time when people spruce up their homes, clean out the garage and get rid of unwanted items. It's also an ideal opportunity to identify and remove major fire hazards in the home, garage, garden and shed.

As part of the NSWFB Spring Clean for a Safer Home campaign, we're urging residents to remove clutter, check that power sources are not overloaded and ensure that household chemicals are stored properly or disposed of safely.

When you're assessing what needs to be thrown out, consider piles of unwanted newspapers, books and magazines, disused furniture and other wooden items, and tins of paint and fuels.

If a fire starts in the home, piles of paper, old furniture, wood products and/or household chemicals will increase the fuel load for the fire, causing it to spread more quickly and making it harder to put out. Items blocking doorways and hallways can also prevent people from escaping the fire and stop fire officers from entering the burning building.

Recently, there was a case where a fire claimed 80 per cent of a single level house as a result of large quantities of combustible materials, particularly old furniture, stored inside the home and in the back yard. Unable to enter the home because of the obstacles, fire officers were forced to fight the fire from outside and had to wait until the roof collapsed before they could attack the seat of the fire. It is fortunate that no one was inside the house at the time because it is unlikely they would have been able to escape.

Other spring cleaning tips to make your home safer include:

  • Checking electric cords and equipment for damage;
  • Ensuring power sources are not overloaded and there is no dust on powerboards;
  • Locking garden and household chemicals, such as such as pesticides, pool chemicals, caustic cleaning agents, personal hygiene sprays, solvents and fuel, in a secure place away from children;
  • Following manufacturer's instructions on the proper use and storage of household chemicals
  • Discarding unwanted household chemicals safely and appropriately;
  • Ensuring smoke alarms are installed in the home and are working; and
  • Developing a home escape plan and rehearsing it with the family and other residents in the home, including overnight visitors.

Obtain more information on fire safety from our fire safety factsheets or by talking to fire officers at your local NSWFB fire station.