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Commissioner warns of kitchen fire dangers

Published: 1st August 2008

NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) Commissioner Greg Mullins today called on householders to take simple steps to protect themselves and their families from kitchen fires, revealing that almost half of all home fires begin in the kitchen.

"During 2007/08, NSWFB firefighters responded to 4 449 residential fires of which 2 180 began in the kitchen," Commissioner Mullins said.

"In the first two months of winter this year there have already been 378 kitchen fires.

"Winter can be a particularly bad time for kitchen fires with the colder weather bringing with it increased cooking activities in the home.

"Fires can start from causes as simple as burnt toast or pots of oil left on a hot plate."

Commissioner Mullins said it was very easy to become distracted while cooking - such as answering the phone or a knock on the door - but emphasised it was important to be aware of the risks.

"The majority of all kitchen fires begin from cooking being left unattended on the stove," he said.

"The other most common causes included mechanical failure and appliances accidentally being turned on or not switched off at the power-point. More often than not these types of incidents are preventable.

"It's in the interest of every household to take simple safety steps in the kitchen to help keep their families and home safe, such as turning off hotplates rather than leaving cooking unattended and ensuring appliances are switched off after use," Commissioner Mullins said.

There are three simple tips to remember if you want to prevent a fire in your kitchen:

  1. Ensure that cooking appliances are turned off after use;
  2. Tea towels, oven mitts and other flammable items should be kept well away from stoves and cook tops; and
  3. Install a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen and familiarise yourself with their operation. They should be located at least one metre away from the stove and between the stove and the nearest exit.

For more information on kitchen fire safety visit the website www.fire.nsw.gov.au.