STAY SAFE: Inspector Neil Fanning is urging people to exercise caution this winter.
STAY SAFE: Inspector Neil Fanning is urging people to exercise caution this winter.

Dalby fire inspector explains new government smoke alarm laws

WE’RE well into the throes of winter and with that comes extra risk of house fires.

In 2019, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services attended 554 house fires in winter, and the time of year is known for having the highest number of structure fires compared to the rest of the year.

That’s a figure they’re trying to drop.

South west area commander Inspector Neil Fanning said avoiding danger comes down to impeccable planning.

“Fire happens fast and there’s only a small period of time to get out, so having an escape plan could be the difference between life and death,” he said.

“It’s important for everyone in the household to prepare, practice and discuss an escape plan so everyone knows what to do.”

Abiding by the government’s new smoke alarm laws is one important way to comply to a fire safety plan.

“An important step in ensuring your family’s fire safety is having working smoke alarms,” Insp Fanning said.

“Smoke alarms must be maintained through regular cleaning and testing, which can be carried out by pushing the ‘test’ button.

“Cleaning should be done in line with manufacturer instructions, which usually requires vacuuming the exterior vents.

Photoelectric smoke alarms are the most effective at detecting smoke from a range of domestic type fires.

“New legislation will require all Queensland residences be fitted with interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms in all bedrooms, hallways and on each story of all homes,” the inspector said.

The new laws are being rolled out over three implementation stages:

Stage one: Houses and units approved to be built or substantially renovated after 1 January 2017 must comply.

Stage two: From 1 January 2022, all houses or units being sold or leased, or existing leases renewed, need to comply before the next lease that commences.

Stage three: All other dwellings need to comply from 1 January 2027.

To avoid a structure fire during winter, QFES recommends checking any electric blankets or heating devices to ensure they are properly functioning, and avoid having any frayed, exposed, or rust.

They also recommend avoiding placing items close to heating appliances and never leaving any open flames or candles unattended.

The recommended steps to creating a fire safety plan are:

Step one: Draw your escape plan on a sheet of paper

Step two: Try to have two ways out of every room

Step three: Pick a meeting place outside the home, such as your letterbox.

Step four: Practice your fire escape plan regularly – at night, with the light off, standing and crawling