Monthly Archives: April 2016

Is your wood fire an indulgence or a life threatening danger?

Quadrafire31LE_On a cold winter night it’s nice to settle down in front of a wood fire. But if that wood fire isn’t being properly maintained it could change from being an indulgence to a life threatening danger.

Chimney fires are caused by the accumulation of creosote and other products of incomplete combustion in the chimney. Over a period of months these products build up in the chimney as a coating and when subjected to strong heat from the fire ignite in the chimney with a real potential to start a fire in the roof.

There is a danger that these fires, burning in the roof space above smoke alarms, or in wall cavity’s, can go undetected until they are substantial, life threatening, fires.

Minimising the risk of chimney fires is simple. Each April, or before you intend to start using the fire, clean the chimney. You may also do an additional cleaning in mid-winter to be extra sure that you won’t have to face a chimney fire. You may be able to do this yourself if you can safely work on the roof and have a suitable chimney brush. If not there  are professional chimney cleaners who can clean your chimney and check their integrity.
It’s also worth checking the roof space to make sure that there is nothing flammable close to the chimney. Chimney fires aren’t limited to houses. They can occur in commercial premises including hotels and guest houses. Indeed any premises with wood fires have the potential for chimney fires.
When you go to bed tonight are you sure that your wood fire won’t lead to a chimney fire? Have you taken care to make sure that your chimney has been cleaned to minimise the risk of fire? Have you taken a minute to smell for smoke or the smell of very hot metal? Do you have working smoke alarms?
Chimney fires are avoidable. Regularly cleaned and serviced chimneys and working smoke alarms could save your family’s lives.

For a home fire safety checklist visit: cfa.vic.gov.au/homefire

Change your clock, change your smoke alarm battery‏

There are over 3,000 preventable house fires each year in Victoria alone. Smoke alarms provide an essential early warning and time to evacuate safely – but only if they work!

As you wind back your clocks on Sunday 3 April 2016, be sure to change your smoke alarm batteries too! Victorian Fire Services recommend long-lasting alkaline batteries for smoke alarms.

Some quick tips to keep your smoke alarm in working order are:

  • Test smoke alarms once a month.  The alarm should produce a loud “beep beep beep beep” sound when you press the test button using a broom handle.
  • Use the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to dust the smoke alarm every six months.
  • Smoke alarms have a ten year life span.  Replace all smoke alarms – both battery powered and hard wired – every ten years.
  • Purchase smoke alarms that meet Australian Standards.  Look for the AS3786 marking.
  • Help your elderly family, friends and neighbours to make sure their smoke alarm is working.

Waiting until the smoke alarm beeps before you change the battery is too late – this indicates that the batteries are already flat and your family is not protected.