Press Release – New Zealand Fire Service
Over the past 12 months, 20 people have died in avoidable house fires and the New Zealand Fire Service said, in most cases, there were no working smoke alarms to provide a warning.New Zealand Fire Service: 2012/13 Fire Fatalities
Over the past 12 months, 20 people have died in avoidable house fires and the New Zealand Fire Service said, in most cases, there were no working smoke alarms to provide a warning.
The New Zealand Fire Service said the most common causes of the deaths were drinking and cooking, faulty appliances or electrical wiring, items too close to a heater, and people smoking and their clothing or bedding catching fire.
Chief Executive and National Commander Paul Baxter said it appeared that people who were elderly, disabled, impaired by alcohol, and living in rental or care housing were more at risk.
“We are concerned that older or impaired people make up many of these deaths. Five were in their 70s and 80s, eight in their 50s and 60s and two people had disabilities.”
He said that the Fire Service worked extensively with communities, organisations such as Age Concern, Work and Income, city councils and other groups, to provide advice and, home fire safety checks and install smoke alarms.
“However, this year, as in previous years, there were no working smoke alarms in 80 per cent of the homes where people died. Smoke alarms save lives and should be installed in the middle of the ceiling of every bedroom in your house,” he said.
He said the Fire Service provided a free home fire safety check and smoke alarm installation for people who are elderly, disabled, or hold a Community Services Card. To book a visit phone 0800 NZFIRE.
On a more positive note, fewer children are dying in fires. There were none this year, two last year, and four in 2009/10. This number has been declining since the Fire Service introduced its Firewise programme in schools.
“Winter is a high risk time for fire. Please take a few minutes to do a household fire safety assessment. Check or install smoke alarms, get rid of faulty electrical appliances, make an escape plan for the family, and make sure lighters and matches are out of the reach of children. Also make sure you keep any embers or ashes in a metal container and douse with water before disposing of them,” he said.
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