Reminder to check your smoke alarm

CFA and Fire Rescue Victoria have urged Victorians to make it a priority to check smoke alarms (supplied).

This weekend marks the end of daylight saving and Victorian firefighters are asking Melton and Moorabool residents to test their smoke alarms after concerning new data revealed 14 people died in preventable house fires last year.

Discarded smoking materials, lighters and matches were the most frequent cause of the fires, resulting in five incidents and seven deaths, CFA and Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) said.

Of the victims, five were female and nine were male. There were 11 single fatality incidents and one incident that resulted in the deaths of three people.

CFA and FRV have urged Victorians to make it a priority to check smoke alarms while turning their clocks back when daylight saving ends at 3am on Sunday 7 April.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said it’s essential that families are conducting monthly testing of their smoke alarms to keep their loved ones safe.

“The number of fatalities in the last year is very alarming and devastating to know they could have been prevented,” he said.

“In the past 10 years, CFA have responded to more than 13,000 residential fires that have seen more than 330 casualties.

“The best way to keep your family safe is to install interconnected smoke alarms, so that when any alarm activates, all smoke alarms will sound, allowing you to evacuate early.

“We recommend the use of smoke alarms powered by a 10-year lithium battery to ensure their longevity.”

FRV deputy commissioner of community safety Joshua Fischer said every fire fatality was a tragedy.

“This heartbreaking data reveals that in the past year, 14 people’s lives were tragically cut short in incidents that could have been prevented,” he said.

“The best way to protect yourself and your family from fire is by installing smoke alarms in all bedrooms, living areas, hallways and garages and to test that they are working.

“When you sleep you lose your sense of smell, and smoke will put you into a deeper sleep, rendering you unconscious.

“Only a working smoke alarm will wake you up and give you time to escape.”