Fire authorities are encouraging people to install additional smoke alarms in their homes after it was revealed that more than 70 per cent of fatal house fires start in bedrooms and living areas.

Country Fire Authority, CFA, and Fire Rescue Victoria, FRV, data revealed that 67 per cent of fatal house fires occur between 9pm and 6am, and a significant number of people do not have working smoke alarms in bedrooms, living areas and hallways, and may not be alerted to a fire by existing alarms if something was to happen while sleeping.

CFA District 12 community engagement officer Matt Ahern said house fires had always been a threat and it was important to take measures to be prepared.

“It’s one of the things that’s been a bit of a concern for us. It’s been a challenge to get [the message] about the importance of smoke alarms out there,” he said.

“Smoke alarms are there for a reason, they will save your life, it’s that simple. That’s the message.”

Pyalong resident Richard Gray lost his home in late May when a fire broke out at 2am as a result of an electrical short in one of the walls of the house.

He said his family of five would not have survived if it weren’t for the smoke alarms in the house.

“Alarms went off in the hallway of the house, which woke up me and my wife, and we jumped out of bed and dragged the kids out of their rooms,” Mr Gray said.

“By the time we were out the back the house was pretty much engulfed in flames, so if it weren’t for the alarms I dare say we wouldn’t be here today.

“We had to just get out with what was on our backs, and yes, we lost our things and our house but those are replaceable. You can’t replace a life.”

Mr Gray also thanked the CFA for their response, with 25 crew members from five different stations attending the property.

The CFA has a list of smoke alarm tips to keep safe:

  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years
  • Install smoke alarms outside every sleeping area and on each level of a house, in line with legislation
  • Install interconnected smoke alarms so if one sounds, all will sound
  • Change replaceable batteries in smoke alarms yearly
  • Test smoke alarms monthly as per the manufacturer’s guide
  • Clean smoke alarms once a year with a duster or vacuum cleaner

For more information on smoke alarms, visit frv.vic.gov.au or cfa.vic.gov.au.

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