Fire safety is a hot topic this winter

Published:
Friday, 31 May 2024 at 2:18 am

Fire safety is a hot topic this winter with data revealing firefighters respond to around 100 fires caused by heaters each year.

With the official start to winter tomorrow, Victoria’s fire services are warning the community not to be complacent when heating the home as it is the peak time for heater fires.

In the last five years, CFA responded to 640 house fires caused by a heater.

These types of fires mainly start either due to a mechanical fault, or because the heater is located too close to flammable materials in a lounge room or sleeping area.

Home heating systems vary and can include fixed electrical or gas-powered appliances, portable electrical, gas or kerosene heaters, as well as open fires and wood heaters. 

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said as we begin to spend more time indoors, Victorians should make sure their gas and electrical heaters are serviced every two years to safeguard their loved ones from fire. 

 “Last year CFA responded to 87 house fires caused by heaters and in 2022 there were 119 fires. This decline is encouraging to see but ideally, we want to see that figure zero,” Jason said.

“A common mistake we’re finding is households are keeping their drying clothes too close to heaters and fireplaces, so it’s best to ensure they are at least one metre away from all heating.  

 “Regardless of when you turn a heater on, just be mindful to turn them off before you leave the house or go to sleep.”

On 1 June 2024, CFA and FRV will also mark the first ever Smoke Alarm Action Day alongside New South Wales, Western Australia and Northern Territory, a day to urge households to ensure they have working smoke alarms fitted in their homes.

FRV Deputy Commissioner Community Safety Joshua Fischer said Smoke Alarm Action Day was the ideal time to remind Victorians that the majority of fatal fires start in a bedroom or living room, so having smoke alarms installed in all hallways, sleeping and living areas is the best line of defence

“Today is the day to test the smoke alarms in your home to ensure that they are all working and will operate to protect your family”

“In an emergency, every second counts and having working smoke alarms in the sleeping and living areas of your home will ensure you are alerted promptly in the event of a fire, buying you and your family precious time to escape,” he said.

“We want all Victorians to be aware that the colder months are some of the riskiest times of the year for fires in the home.

“You can reduce the risks by making sure your heating systems and devices are well maintained. Now is the time to install additional smoke alarms into all bedrooms and living areas. Ten-year long-life battery smoke alarms, suitable for all bedrooms and living areas, can save lives for around $20.”

When it comes to home heating, FRV and CFA recommends: 

  • Drying clothes and other items must be kept at least one metre away from all home heating devices.
  • Children must be supervised near all types of heating. Maintain a safe distance between children and heating.
  • Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended; turn off heating devices before leaving home or going to sleep.
  • Residents should have their gas heaters inspected and serviced every two years to ensure the safety of loved ones from carbon monoxide poisoning or fire. 

Updated