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Silence is deadly, firefighters warn

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17 May 2020
New statistics from CFA and MFB have revealed fatal fires are more likely to start in bedrooms, lounge rooms, kitchens, and garages – prompting calls for smoke alarms to be installed in all sleeping and living areas.

The data also showed a concerning number of Victorians still do not have a working smoke alarm in their home.

MFB Acting Chief Executive Officer/Chief Officer David Bruce has called on all Victorians to check that their smoke alarms are installed, working, and in the right location.

“There wasn’t a working smoke alarm present in more than one in ten of the residential1 fires MFB attended last year,” A/CEO/CO Bruce said.

“It’s concerning to see that some Victorians are still not getting the message – a smoke alarm will give you vital early warning and can save your life.

“It takes minutes for a fire to take hold in a home, which can cause significant damage to property and put people’s lives at risk.

“We want Victorians to go beyond ensuring there is a working smoke alarm in their home and install them in the right location, and interconnect multiple alarms,” A/CEO/CO Bruce said.

CFA Chief Officer and CEO Steve Warrington said while the majority of households have a least one smoke alarm, a recent survey of Victorians showed only 16% of people had smoke alarms in their bedrooms, and only 11% of people had interconnected smoke alarms.

“Put simply; interconnected smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, living area and hallway for your family’s best protection,” he said.

“In the past 10 years CFA has responded to more than 17,000 residential fires, with more than 400 resulting in death or serious injury,” he said.

“Of these fires, a quarter started in sleeping areas, 23 per cent in lounge areas and 15 per cent in kitchens.

“Clearly it is our sleeping and lounge areas that are the biggest risk. Without properly placed smoke alarms your chances of surviving a house fire are greatly diminished – especially when you are asleep.

“We all know the lifesaving impact smoke alarms can have. Fire safety is no accident. The only way to ensure your smoke alarm is working is to check and test it.”

Silence is deadly is the latest fire safety campaign from CFA and MFB, and illustrates that no sound from a smoke alarm can be deadly in a fire. The campaign is set to run online and across the radio for the next five weeks.

For the latest information on smoke alarms visit mfb.vic.gov.au or cfa.vic.gov.au

Smoke alarm tips:

  • Smoke alarms should be interconnected so that when one alarm activates, all alarms will sound.
  • Install smoke alarms in bedrooms and all living areas, where most fatal fires start.
  • Each month, test smoke alarms by pressing the test button.
  • Each year, vacuum all smoke alarms to clean the vents, and change batteries in any nine volt battery-operated alarms.
  • Purchase a smoke alarm powered by a 10-year lithium battery so you don’t need to change the battery every year.
  • After 10 years, replace smoke alarms regardless of the type.

 

– ENDS –

 

The statistics outlined in this release include MFB attendance at Residential Fires within the Metropolitan District for the period 1/05/2019 to 30/04/2020. These results are approximate figures only due to the way MFB captures data.

 

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Safety Tip

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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