CFA commander urges people to be fire safe

By Madeleine Byron

With 3000 house fires in Victoria each year, Shepparton CFA commander Travis Harris has some prevention tips for the region.

Mr Harris said many people often turned to heating appliances that were not in working order during the cooler months.

‘‘We encourage people to check their items regularly and keep clothes at least 1m away from heaters or the fireplace,’’ he said.

Mr Harris said fires often started in the kitchen.

‘‘The kitchen is an all year-round one, the simple thing is to not leave cooking unattended and making sure that flammable items aren’t too close to the stove,’’ Mr Harris said.

‘‘Leaving appliances on is also a big factor or leaving food cooking on the stove or in the oven.’’

Mr Harris also stressed the importance of regularly servicing gas appliances.

He said fatal fires often started in the bedroom or lounge areas due to improper use of electrical appliances.

‘‘A big one for sleeping areas is the use of electric blankets,’’ he said.

‘‘We encourage people to only turn on an electric blanket 30 minutes before getting into bed and to turn it off as they get into bed.’’

Because of the increase in the use of heating appliances, gas and electric, Mr Harris said general cleanliness could also prevent house fires.

He said the risk of dying from a fire was far greater at night while people were sleeping.

‘‘When we sleep, we lose our sense of smell — without a working smoke alarm you may not wake up in time to safely escape,’’ he said.

‘‘CFA recommend that smoke alarms be installed in every living area and bedroom throughout the home.

‘‘People are always alerted to a fire in their home because of a working smoke detector.

‘‘By having a working smoke detector they will be aware of it early and then we will be able to contain the fire to the smallest area possible.

‘‘A lot of people don’t realise that smoke alarms only have 10-year life span.’’

In the event of a fire emergency phone 000.