On Friday morning at Gulgong, firefighters came to the aid of a mother and her five-month-old baby who suffered smoke inhalation during a minor blaze that was caused by a pile of wood sitting too close to the fire place.
In the wake of the fire, Mid-Western Regional Councillor and Fire and Rescue New South Wales Station Commander Paul Cavalier had a simple message for residents of the region – ‘keep everything a metre from the heater’.
That’s the slogan Paul and the rest of the area’s firefighters are trying to remind people of all the time – even though we’ve just entered the winter months.
“It was the first day of winter on Friday so it’s a timely reminder and message to get out there,” Paul said.
“People are really complacent in general – in relation to fires.
“They tend to take the stance that ‘it’ll never happen to me’ and that’s when things go terribly wrong.”
Gulgong firefighters came to the aid of five-month-old baby this morning after a house fire caused by wood being stored too close to a fireplace. The family and baby are now safe. With the arrival of winter, remember not to place items too close to fireplaces or heaters. pic.twitter.com/znt1JGuI9J— Fire and Rescue NSW (@FRNSW) May 31, 2018
Fortunately for the Gulgong home, the fire brigade was contacted quickly and damage was limited to the surrounding area of the fireplace.
“Everything was fine but it could have been much worse. There was a lot of smoke in the house when we arrived.”
“The baby had some smoke inhalation but he was fine in the end. We just administered some oxygen to him until the ambulance arrived.”
Fire prevention relies heavily on the quality of the alarm installed within each household and Paul thoroughly highlighted the best device to use.
“Some of the new alarms have a lithium-ion battery that last for 10 years,” Paul said.
“The way to tell if you’ve got the correct alarm is the yellow radiation symbol on it.
“If it has one of those, it’s the wrong type of alarm – you need to swap it out for a photoelectric alarm.
A photoelectric alarm sees the smoke and picks up the fire much earlier than the more traditional alarms.”
Fire safety checks are a good indicator as to whether households are using fire alarms effectively and Paul says many alarms aren’t functioning correctly.
“We’ve called into a few home and you’d be surprised how many smoke alarms are up there with brand new batteries in them and don’t work.”
“You need to push that button in the centre of the alarm and make sure it’s working.
“If you have a smoke alarm that isn’t working, you’re in trouble. Smoke won’t wake you up – it will put you to sleep.
“The alarm is the only thing that will get you out of bed. People often don’t see how serious this all is.”