Firefighters sound alarm on smoke alarm maintenance

Residents are being urged not to become complacent when it comes to smoke alarms, with new data showing just over half of the homes attended by fire crews had a working alarm.

Latest data from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) has revealed that working smoke alarms were present in just 53 per cent of the 47 homes where a fire occurred in Maroondah in 2018.

Maroondah Mayor Councillor Rob Steane said just as alarming was the fact that seven of the homes that crews were called to in Maroondah did not have a smoke alarm installed.

“This is a real concern; smoke alarms should be installed outside each bedroom or sleeping area in the home. If you live in a house with more than one level, install a smoke alarm on each level,” Cr Steane said.

“The statistics on the importance of a working smoke alarm are 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 injuries and four times more likely to die.

“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.

MFB’s Acting Deputy Chief Officer (A/DCO) Community Resilience Adam Dalrymple said the results were concerning and urged the community not to become complacent when it came to this life-saving piece of equipment.

“MFB was called to 1572 residential structure fires across the Metropolitan District last year – and 193 homes had no smoke alarms.

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

While smoke alarm maintenance is a responsibility of the landlord, tenants are also responsible for regular testing and cleaning the smoke alarms in their rental property, he said.

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

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 the 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 smoke alarms will sound.
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