NSW Fire Brigade assists record number of seniors

Published: 4th April 2006

Minister for Emergency Services Tony Kelly said the NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) assisted a record number of older people to protect themselves from fire by installing smoke alarms and replacing smoke alarm batteries in more than 4700 homes throughout NSW in 2005.

Mr Kelly said the number of seniors helped under the NSWFB's Smoke Alarm Battery Replacement for the Elderly (SABRE) program had jumped by 100 per cent on the previous year.

"It's important to remind everyone, including our older citizens of the need for working smoke alarms," Mr Kelly said.

"It's expected that the SABRE program will grow even further this year to ensure we reach as many people as possible in this high risk group, especially as we move closer to 1 May when smoke alarms will be mandatory in all places where people sleep," he said.

Mr Kelly, speaking at a Seniors Week (2-9 April 2006) event in Narellan, said the NSW Government would continue to support the SABRE program.

"The program involves firefighters visiting the homes of elderly people to test and install smoke alarms and to replace smoke alarm batteries," he said.

Mr Kelly said it had been known for some time that people over the age of 65 were three times as likely as the rest of the community to die in a home fire.

"Time is a crucial factor in all fires. It can take only minutes for the initial flame to spread and engulf your home and even less time for your home to fill with toxic smoke," he said.

"Working smoke alarms give you more time to escape and call Triple Zero (000) - an early warning and an escape plan are critical needs if a person's mobility is impaired.

"Sadly, many older people have died in fires because they didn't adopt these basic measures. I'd encourage all seniors to join the SABRE program."

If seniors would like to join the SABRE program or get information about home escape plans they should contact their local fire station or visit the NSW Fire Brigades website www.fire.nsw.gov.au.

Media contact: Michelle Stone on 0400 280 467 or Office: 9228 3999