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Fire safety warning for over 65s

Published: 7th March 2013

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Greg Mullins and Care Workers from the Home Care Service of NSW are urging seniors in the community to check their smoke alarms are working following the release of the latest over 65s fire fatality statistics.

Those aged over 65 are the most vulnerable to fire in the community making up a third of all fire deaths in NSW. The latest statistics show a fifth of those occurred in Western Sydney suburbs (2007-11). The areas of Fairfield and Tweed each had four over 65s fire fatalities while the Lake Macquarie, Wollongong and Liverpool areas each had three.

Commissioner Mullins said the number of fatalities was alarming.

“The most important things those over 65 can do to reduce their risk from fires in the home is to have a working smoke alarm and a home escape plan,” Commissioner Mullins said.

Commissioner Mullins said, through a new partnership with the Home Care Service of NSW, FRNSW hoped to prevent nearly 50,000 vulnerable seniors from becoming fire victims.

“Tragically, a fifth of all house fires in the community over the past five years involved people aged over 65,” he said.

“From March, Home Care’s network of 4,000 Care Workers, who care for almost 50,000 clients, will check that their clients' smoke alarms are working and learn from Firefighters so that they can educate seniors to take other steps to improve fire safety around the home,” he said.

“FRNSW will also assist seniors and Care Workers through the Smoke Alarm and Battery Replacement program, known as SABRE, where Firefighters change and maintain the smoke alarm batteries for people aged over 65 and immobile residents.”

Key seniors fire safety tips:

  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm installed – test them monthly and change the batteries annually.
  • Never leave cooking unattended on the stove. Almost half of house fires involving over 65s start in the kitchen.
  • Have a practiced home escape plan, which is important for those with reduced mobility and can greatly increase seniors’ chances of surviving fires in the home.
  • When at home, leave keys in, or near deadlocks so you can escape quickly in an emergency.
  • If a fire does break out, don’t fight the fire - get out, stay out and call Triple Zero (000).

Home Care Workers provide support to people to live independently in their own home and be part of their community. Care Workers have been providing support to clients for more than 70 years. There are more than 100 locations throughout NSW to support approximately 50,000 people, including a number of Aboriginal Home Care Service branches that provide a wide variety of services specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.

For more information visit www.fire.nsw.gov.au or contact your nearest fire station.