MFB sounds alarm on need for smoke detectors

Residents are being urged not to become complacent when it comes to smoke alarms, with latest Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) statistics revealing fires had occurred in homes in Maroondah where there was no smoke alarms present.

Of the 51 house fires attended by MFB fire crews between March 2019 and February 2020, six (12%) did not have a smoke alarm installed.

MFB Acting Deputy Chief (A/DCO) Community Resilience Adam Dalrymple said the latest figures were concerning and urged the community not to underestimate the importance of having a working smoke alarm.

“Do not become complacent; this piece of equipment can save your life,” A/DCO Dalrymple said.

“Working smoke alarms provide a vital early warning and are designed to help you and your family escape during a fire,” he said.

It is compulsory to install working smoke alarms in all residential buildings such as houses, units, flats, boarding houses, and townhouses.

A/DCO Dalrymple explains that while smoke alarm maintenance is a responsibility of the landlord, tenants are also responsible for regular testing and cleaning of smoke alarms in their rental property.

“Renters must contact their real estate agent or landlord if their smoke alarms are not working or emitting an occasional chirping sound,” he said.

Councillor and Chair of the Maroondah Community Safety Committee representative Rob Steane said the statistics on the importance of a working smoke alarm were clear.

“If you don’t have a working smoke alarm in your home and a fire occurs, you are 57 per cent more likely to suffer property loss and damage, 36 per cent more likely to suffer serious injury and four times more likely to die,” Cr Steane said.

“When you’re asleep you lose your sense of smell. A working smoke alarm will alert you if there is smoke from a fire. A small fire can engulf an entire room in less than three minutes – a smoke alarm provides an early warning and time to escape.

“Even if the alarm is hardwired into the electricity supply, it is still important to check the back-up battery because quite often when a fire takes hold, the power goes off.

“Installing smoke alarms and keeping them in good working order is the cheapest insurance for families and property owners,” Cr Steane said.

Residents are reminded to only purchase smoke alarms that comply to Australian Standards AS 3786, indicated by the Standards Australia ‘five ticks’ symbols on the smoke alarm packaging.

Smoke alarm tips

  • Install a smoke alarm in bedrooms and all living areas, including hallways and stairs.
  • Each month test smoke alarms by pressing the test button.
  • Each year vacuum all smoke alarms to clean the vents, and change batteries in any 9-volt battery-operated alarms.
  • After 10 years replace smoke alarms regardless of what type. Get a smoke alarm powered by a 10-year lithium battery so you don’t need to change the battery every year.
  • Consider installing interconnected smoke alarms, so that when any alarm activates, all alarms will sound.

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