Photo: CFA

THERE are an average of 3000 house fires in Victoria each year and authorities have reinforced that most could be prevented by taking simple precautions.

With winter in full swing and warmer months on the way, the Country Fire Authority, CFA, is urging people to take precautions such as checking appliance wiring and cleaning garages, as well as installing interconnected smoke alarms and preparing a home fire escape plan.

Fire Rescue commissioner Gavin Freeman said families and households should take the time to ensure they were well prepared. 

“Nobody wants to think about a fire in the home, but sadly in Victoria every year, on average 18 lives are lost in preventable house fires,” he said.

“Knowing how to quickly exit your home in case of an emergency could mean the difference between life and death, and it is crucial that all members of the household, including children, know what to do in the event of a house fire.”

CFA has identified multiple key priorities to help improve fire safety in and around the home.

Garage

Firefighters have responded to about 30 garage fires up to July this year, compared to 28 for the entire year of 2022.

Many of the reported garage fires in the last year were caused by faulty electrical equipment or related to fuel spills, prompting reminders to inspect appliances, devices and vehicles regularly.

Residents are urged to clean up their garages and consider installing smoke alarms, and only to charge items and vehicles containing lithium-ion batteries using chargers and cords that were originally supplied with the device.

Kitchen

Fire Rescue Victoria, FRV, and CFA responded to about 900 kitchen fires across the state last year, with many the result of people leaving stovetops unattended.

Mr Freeman said unattended cooking was one of the most common causes of preventable house fires.

“We frequently encounter kitchen fires and we understand there’s lots to do around the home, but it’s crucial to be aware of your kitchen environment and reduce the risk of fire by staying near the stove,” he said.

“If a fire does start in the kitchen, turn off the stove if it’s safe to do so.

“Use a fire extinguisher or fire blanket if you are confident in their use, evacuate everyone from the home, close the kitchen door and call triple zero.”

Smoke alarms

Residents are being urged to change their old smoke alarms to a new unit with a lithium battery that has a 10-year lifespan.

With 60 per cent of house fires starting in people’s bedrooms and living areas between 8pm and 8am in the past decade, working smoke alarms are the best defence against preventable fires and should be checked regularly.

People are reminded to install interconnected smoke alarms between each sleeping area and the rest of their home, as well as on each level of a multi-level house, to ensure all occupants are alerted to a fire regardless of where it starts.

Specialised smoke alarms are also available for people who may have difficulty hearing standard smoke alarms and evacuation systems.

Escape plans

Families who are well-prepared are more likely to escape their homes safely and without panic.

As part of the plan, all family members should know the two quickest ways out of every room, how they will exit from upstairs if the house has a second storey, an agreed-upon meeting place outside, and how they will call triple zero.

It is also important to consider that children are less likely than adults to wake up to the sound of a smoke alarm, so parents should consider how they might be able to reach children’s bedrooms if regular access is blocked by fire.

For more information on all precautions and procedures, visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/fires-in-the-home.