Shane Bretz knows the importance of well-maintained smoke alarms in all Queensland residential properties.
Shane Bretz knows the importance of well-maintained smoke alarms in all Queensland residential properties. Renee Pilcher

Tragedy highlights need for alarm

SMOKE alarms sold out at Sunshine Coast hardware shops the day after celebrity chef Matt Golinski's family perished in a house fire at Tewantin.

Gympie firefighter Kyle Dellit was a member of the Queensland Fire and Rescue (QFRS) team sent to investigate the fire, due to it being a multiple fatality.

While he could not comment on the investigation (a report is being prepared for the coroner), the North Coast region's sole fire investigator said the tragedy had triggered a heightened concern about fire safety and increased awareness about the importance of having working smoke detectors installed and maintained.

In the lead-up to April Fool's Day, which QFRS cleverly hijacked for its campaign; Don't Be a Fool, Change Your Smoke Alarm Battery, Gympie firefighters are highlighting the importance of preventative safety measures in the home.

But they continue to see many cases where smoke alarms have failed to activate due to removed batteries or poor maintenance.

After a harrowing 12 months across the state, Officer Dellit said people needed to realise the fires they see reported on the news could occur in their own homes.

He hoped this year's Don't Be a Fool campaign would encourage people to take preventative action for the sake of their own safety and the safety of their loved ones.

"Change your smoke alarm batteries on April 1st," he said.

"It takes less than five minutes to change a smoke alarm battery and when you weigh that up with the life that could be saved in doing so, it's certainly time well spent," he said.

QFRS recommends the use of photoelectric smoke alarms and warns that not changing batteries and failing to maintain smoke alarms can be just as deadly as not having one at all.

 

Officer Dellit recommends:

  • Test your photoelectric smoke alarm monthly to ensure the battery and the alarm sounder are operating. Clean with a vacuum cleaner annually to remove particles that will affect smoke alarm performance;
  • Replace the battery annually with a long-lasting 9v alkaline battery;
  • If you live in a rental property, call your rental property manager and ensure you have correctly installed, maintained and working smoke alarms; and
  • Install photoelectric smoke alarms in places that will wake all occupants in the home and give them time to evacuate. For example, outside each sleeping area with additional smoke alarms installed inside bed-rooms where doors are closed at night and along evacuation routes.

Visit changeyourbattery.com.au or fire.qld.gov.au for more information and for tips on how to protect your house from fire.

 

DON'T BE A FOOL

  • Queensland Fire and Rescue attended 1912 residential fires in 2011.
  • There were 27 fatalities caused by residential fires in Queensland during 2011.
  • In the North Coast region alone, there were 255 residential structure fires, many of which were preventable.
  • Only a working smoke alarm will save lives. To make sure they're effective, smoke alarms have to be maintained, and that means they have be cleaned and tested regularly and have a fresh battery in place.
Gympie Times


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