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Fire Officer a Seniors Week Ambassador

Published: 19th March 2013

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Station Officer Bill King has been busy this week encouraging seniors to be fire safe as part of his role as a 2013 Seniors Week Ambassador.

With more than 50 years of fire fighting experience under his belt, Station Officer King is one of FRNSW’s longest serving firefighters.

The Department of Family and Community Services recently announced Station Officer King, 72, would be a Seniors Week Ambassador for the second year running.

Station Officer King said he wanted to promote the Seniors Week ‘Live Life’ message in his role as a Seniors Week Ambassador by encouraging older people to ensure they have working smoke alarms.

“It is vital to have a working smoke alarm, particularly for older or less mobile residents, who unfortunately are at greater risk from fire,” Station Officer King said.

“The colder months are especially dangerous for seniors. Tragically, every year there is a peak in preventable fires as we move towards Winter. Those aged over 65 are the most vulnerable to fire in the community making up a third of all fire deaths in NSW.

“Smoke alarms provide an essential early warning and time to evacuate – but only if they work. Remember to change your smoke alarm battery once a year and check your smoke alarms each month.

“A Smoke Alarm and Battery Replacement program, known as SABRE, where FRNSW Firefighters change and maintain the smoke alarm batteries for people aged over 65 and immobile residents can also help seniors. Contact your nearest fire station for more information.

Station Officer King has fought many major fires in his five decades as a firefighter. He became a firefighter in 1962, before fire trucks had enclosed cabins. Firefighters were often seated on top of a fire truck and had to hold on.

“These days we have much better equipment to fight fires, but we’d prefer to prevent fire and help people avoid injuries,” Station Officer King said.

Station Officer King said maintaining physical health was an important part of being a firefighter and attributed his fitness as responsible for remaining in an active fire fighting role for 52 years.

“I’ve been competing in Indoor Rowing events for more than 10 years and train every day, at work or at the gym,” he said.

“I’m still fighting fires at the coal face and have absolutely no plans of retirement.”

For fact sheets on senior fire safety go to: www.fire.nsw.gov.

To help identify potential risks in the home everybody is encouraged do a free FRNSW/GIO online home fire safety audit at www.homefiresafetyaudit.com.au.