NSWFB warns of increased risk of house fires during winter

Published: 15th June 2007

Following the tragic death of a 12-year-old girl in the Sydney suburb of Willoughby this morning, NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) Commissioner Greg Mullins today warned families about the increased risk of house fires during winter.

Commissioner Mullins expressed his sympathy to the girl’s family and urged all NSW residents to be vigilant about fire safety, highlighting the importance of having smoke alarms and escape plans at home and dialing Triple Zero in an emergency.

“Winter is the most dangerous time of year for fires in the home and I want to ensure that fire safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind,” Commissioner Mullins said. “About 1300 home fires – which represents 30 per cent of all home fires – occur between 1 June and 31 August.

“One death is too many and we do not want a repeat of the winter two years ago when 13 people died in just over two weeks,” he said.

Commissioner Mullins highlighted the importance of having a working smoke alarm and an escape plan.

“While a smoke alarm alerts you to a fire, it will be your escape plan that ensures you get out safely,” he said.

“The message is getting through about smoke alarms but more than two thirds of households have not developed an escape plan and are at greater risk of dying or being injured during a fire in the home.

“Tomorrow is the NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) annual Escape Day so please spend 15 minutes with your family to prepare, and practise, an escape plan. It is also important to make sure everyone knows that the number to call in an emergency is Triple Zero (000).”

A grid for an escape plan can be downloaded from the NSWFB website www.fire.nsw.gov.au or obtained from your local fire stations. In addition, McDonald's will be providing an escape plan on selected tray mats from today for a limited time at McDonald's restaurants across NSW.

Some simple precautions to take this winter are:

  • Have an adequate number of smoke alarms;
  • Have a written home escape plan, which identifies two escape routes from each room and a meeting place outside, and rehearse it regularly;
  • Make sure keys to all locked doors are readily accessible in case you need to escape;
  • Never leaving cooking or any other open flame including candles or oil burners unattended;
  • Don’t overloading power points and switch off appliances when not in use;
  • Take extra care when using heaters, electric blankets or open fires, and keep flammables, such as nightwear, curtains, tablecloths and bedding away from them;
  • Clean the clothes dryer lint filter/s after every use;
  • Store matches and lighters in a secure place not accessible to young children; and
  • Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.