News Releases

Older Victorians At High Risk This Winter

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21 May 2008
The MFB are urging all older Victorians and their carers to check their hotspots and the renewed call comes as a result of a house fire fatality in Black Rock last night.

Early investigations have revealed that an elderly and bedridden woman who was also deaf and mute perished when a house fire started. It was believed she was smoking cigarettes in bed. There was no smoke alarm fitted on the premises.

MFB Commander, Community Education, Frank Stockton said that medication, old or damaged heating and cooking appliances, living alone, coupled with frailty and balance problems, are all factors that increase the risk of injury and death during a house fire.

"The fact that there was no smoke alarm on the premises in this case is especially disturbing. Every Victorian should ensure they have a working smoke alarm and, in particular, people with a hearing impairment should have an installed smoke alarm designed for the hearing impaired to increase their chances of survival in the event of a fire.

“Older Victorians and their carers, relatives, neighbours and friends need to work together to identify and eliminate fire risks," he said.

The MFB recommends the following checklist for older Victorians to avoid a house fire this winter:

  • never smoke cigarettes in bed
  • ensure your smoke alarm is working
  • never leave cooking unattended
  • always keep clothing at least one metre away from all heaters
  • have a fire blanket and extinguisher in the kitchen
  • keep candles away from curtains or flammable material and never leave them burning unattended
  • have a fire escape plan in place
  • ensure all electrical appliances are in good working order

More information on winter fire safety can be found at

For more information or to arrange an interview with Commander Stockton, please contact:

Jessica Warne, MFB Media and Communications
9665 4394 or 0400 919 778

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The Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authority Council (AFAC) recommends monthly testing of smoke alarms to ensure they are working correctly.

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