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Ongoing fire safety concerns around poorly installed ceiling insulation

Published: 18th November 2009

The Minister for Emergency Services Steve Whan today urged homeowners to check that ceiling insulation had been installed properly following a spate of 15 fires involving ceiling insulation over the past three weeks.

Mr Whan said that these 15 fires brought the total for the year to 49, compared to 25 in 2008.

"NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) fire investigators are seeing an escalation in the number of fires involving ceiling insulation.

"The Fire Investigation Unit is tracking and monitoring the number of ceiling fires on a daily basis, including the area of origin, location and the type of ceiling insulation involved in the fire. All of the information is shared with the NSW Office of Fair Trading."

Mr Whan said it was vital that ceiling insulation and electrical equipment was installed correctly.

"Many of the ceiling fires we have seen in recent weeks have been caused by ceiling insulation coming into contact with heat sources such as downlights and exhaust fans.

 "All ceiling insulation must be installed properly and according to the manufacturer's guidelines.

"Check that heat sources located in the roof cavity, like halogen downlights, chimney flues and electric fans, are not covered over and have sufficient space around them to avoid overheating. The insulation must be either fixed in place or have a cover fixed over the heat source to ensure the air space.

"Homeowners should only use licensed tradespeople to install electrical fittings such as lights, and all lights and appliances fitted should meet Australian standards."

NSWFB Commissioner Greg Mullins warned that residents should not be complacent as smoke alarms may not be activated by a fire in the ceiling.

"People need to be aware that fires can occur in the roof and a smoke alarm may not alert you until the fire is well advanced.  To avoid these potentially deadly situations, it is vital that ceiling insulation and all electrical fittings are installed and maintained properly.

"If you smell smoke or see or hear flames call Triple Zero (000) and ask for the fire brigade. Evacuate the property immediately and wait for firefighters to arrive."