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Drop in preventable house fires in Victoria

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19 Aug 2014
More Victorians are heeding fire safety messages with an 18 per cent drop in the number of preventable house fires compared to the same time last year.

So far this winter, MFB and CFA firefighters have attended 556 preventable house fires, down from 678 at the same time last year.

However, firefighters are urging Victorians to be more attentive in the kitchen, as most house fires in July were caused by unattended cooking.

“It’s very easy to get distracted around dinner time,” CFA Acting Deputy Chief Officer Gavin Thompson said.

“We recommend people take extra care when cooking to ensure they don’t accidently start a house fire. Either turn off the stove when leaving the room, or take a wooden spoon or utensil with you so you remember to go back.”

Across the state there were 293 preventable house fires last month.

The Local Government Areas with the highest number of fires were Port Phillip (14), Melbourne (12) and Latrobe (11).

“We find people living in the city can become complacent when it comes to home fire safety because they think a house fire won’t happen to them,” MFB Commander Trent Curtin said.

“What we’re seeing is people making small mistakes in the home that are causing property damage and posing a risk to home owners and their families.”

Three weeks ago MFB and CFA launched a humorous social media-led home fire safety campaign called the Safe Mistake Zone in an attempt to engage people who don’t think house fires will happen to them.

The campaign concept is simple:

Mistakes at home cause fires, so make a safe mistake instead at  

Safe mistakes that can be made as part of the innovative campaign include:

  • Sending a free borderline-inappropriate mystery package to a friend
  • Agreeing to feature in Australia’s most embarrassing ad campaign
  • Signing up to receive “not safe for work” Snapchat messages during work hours
  • Giving your phone number to an annoying telemarketer
  • Liking embarrassing posts on Facebook

As a quirky suggestion, MFB and CFA are also encouraging Victorians to twerk in designated ‘Safe Mistake Zone’ areas and use the hashtag #safemistake on social media to help raise awareness. 

So far the campaign has reached more than 1 million people via Twitter and Facebook and almost 10,000 people directly via the website.

Over the next few weeks pop-up Safe Mistake Zone events will be held in Ballarat and other regional areas.

There are simple steps people can take to avoid fires their home:

  • Ensure cooking is never left unattended
  • Clean and maintain appliances regularly and if the cords are frayed throw them out
  • Ensure your chimney is clean and in good working order
  • Never dry clothes too close to a heater
  • Turn off all unused appliances overnight

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