Wipe away winter and get ready for spring

Published: 4th September 2007

Today at Coffs Harbour fire station, the NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) and AAMI launched the Spring Community Fire Safety Calendar, highlighting ways to avoid spring fire hazards around the home.

"In preparation for higher temperatures and the higher fire risk of spring, the NSWFB and AAMI are asking householders to spend a day in the backyard to make sure that all fire hazards are removed," Selina O'Connor, AAMI NSW Corporate Affairs Manager said.

"AAMI research shows that almost one quarter (23%) of NSW residents admit they do not regularly clean their gutters to protect against the build up of leaves and debris.  Also one in five (18%) do not prune back trees and foliage near their homes.

"We suggest householders have a look around the home, garage, garden and shed to remove clutter and debris, secure chemicals which can catch alight or block a fire exit. Also take a moment to check hoses, smoke alarms and other fire safety equipment are in good working order," Ms O'Connor said.

NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) Commissioner Greg Mullins said fires could occur at any time and urged residents to follow simple precautions to avoid a fire in the home this year.

"Good house keeping can prevent a fire from starting or minimise the damage and risk to occupants. There have been times when firefighters have had trouble reaching a fire's source when there is too much clutter and rubbish laying around. A 'spring clean' around the house may make all the difference in a fire when every second counts.

"Other precautions that can make a difference include checking powerpoints and powerboards to ensure they are not overloaded and inspecting electric cords and equipment for damage. As you're packing away heaters and other heating appliances until next winter, examine the cords and connections – it's better to repair or replace them now before you need them next year. And always make sure you roll, rather than fold, your electric blankets when you put them away."

Barbecue safety

As the weather gets warmer, people start to get out their barbecues- but few release the potential dangers.

"It's good barbecue practice to check the condition of all hoses and connections to make sure they aren't damaged, inspect gas cylinders for rust or damage and ensure connections are correctly tightened on the barbecue before lighting," Commissioner Mullins said.

"Ensure your barbecue is cleaned to remove any leaves or debris that may have built up over winter, use the correct start up and shut down procedures, have a hose on hand at all times and comply with local fire restrictions," Commissioner Mullins said.

Calendar note: check total fire bans

Total Fire Bans usually start in October and are declared on days when the weather is very hot, dry and windy.  During a fire ban, fire permits are suspended and fires may not be lit in the open.

It is good to see that AAMI research shows that almost three quarters (73%) of NSW residents are well informed of fire restrictions relevant to their local area.

To check if a fire ban applies call 1800 679 737 to get State-wide recorded fire ban information or check on-line by visiting www.fire.nsw.gov.au or www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or call your local NSWFB fire station or Rural Fire control centre.

Firefighters use the calendar safety calendars to educate the community about those risks. It is available from fire stations the NSWFB web site www.fire.nsw.gov.au, and AAMI website www.aami.com.au.