Appeal to stop winter fire deaths – Be Safe, Not Sorry - Sydney

Published: 18 Jul 2022 12:53pm

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Paul Baxter is pleading with the public to heed safety warnings after the deaths of 10 people in residential fires this winter, saying most of the tragedies were ‘preventable.’

The latest death occurred on Saturday (16 July) when fire engulfed a home at Bankstown in Sydney’s south-west, killing a 62-year-old man in his bedroom.

There have been six more deaths this winter than the seasonal total last year (four), and 42 other people have been injured in fires since June 1, 2022.

Commissioner Baxter says the high winter fire death toll Is devastating, and most of the fatal fires could have been avoided.

“The message is loud and clear and not enough people are paying attention,” Commissioner Baxter said.

“We spend a lot of money on burglar alarms to stop people stealing our big screen TVs.

"We install smart CCTV systems to make sure no one steals our internet purchases from the front porch.

"We need to wake up and take simple inexpensive steps to protect our irreplaceable things, our lives.”

Commissioner Baxter said 47-percent of the homes damaged by fire this winter have not had working smoke alarms.

One in five homes have not had a smoke alarm at all.

“Please act on this, a working smoke alarm will save your life and the lives of the ones you love."

Check on the older adults in your life, parents, grandparents, neighbours, help them be safe, call us if you need help.

Commissioner Baxter said the main causes of these fires were known.

“Portable heaters, especially bar heaters will kill you if you are not careful with them. "

"Keep anything combustible a metre from the heater, clothing, curtains, couches and furniture, turn them off when you go to bed."

FRNSW also advises the public to:
·      Check and maintain existing smoke alarms;
·      Clean and maintain any fireplaces;
·      Do not use outdoor heating or cooking equipment inside your home;
·      Check electric blankets are safe for use and never go to bed or leave home with your electric blanket on;
·      Do not overheat wheat bags in the microwave;
·      Clean the lint filter from your clothes dryer after each use;
·      Always use candles under adult supervision and do not leave them unattended where possible;
·      Ensure you have a ‘home fire escape plan” and practice it regularly with your family; and
·      If a fire does occur, get out, stay out and call Triple Zero (000).
This winter, keep you and your loved ones safe by using the Get Ready for Winter checklist.

Updated: 30 Jan 2023 09:14pm

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Related safety topics

Cooking fire safety

The leading cause of home fires in NSW is leaving cooking unattended.

Smoke alarms

It“s the law to have at least one working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home.

Escape plans

Having a home escape plan and a working smoke alarm increases your chances of getting out safely.

Heaters & open fires

Learn how to prevent fires from heaters and open fires.

Details about this incident may change and should not be used as emergency information and/or advice.

For all life threatening emergencies, call Triple Zero (000)

For flood information, warnings or requests for non-life threatening assistance, call the SES on 132 500 or visit the NSW State Emergency Service website here. [external link].

For information directly relating to bushfires please call the Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737 or visit the NSW Rural Fire Service Website here. [external link]

Stations nearby

THE ROCKS Fire Station

166 Kent Street, The Rocks NSW 2000

PYRMONT Fire Station

147 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009


211-217 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW 2000