Firefighters are urging households to be more aware of fire risks after new statistics showed there were 592 accidental residential fires across Western Australia over the past year.
Chief Operations Officer Lloyd Bailey said he was concerned people were failing to take adequate steps to prevent accidental house fires.
Mr Bailey said accidental house fires caused almost $22 million damage in the past financial year and most were preventable with the biggest cause being unattended flames and heaters.
Historically firefighters attend more accidental house fires in August compared with any other month.
“Accidents can be caused by the behaviours of individuals within a household and the risks apply to everyone, no matter where you live,” Mr Bailey said.
“As we enter the worst month for accidental house fires, we all have a responsibility to understand house fire risks and take the right steps to keep ourselves and our families safe.”
Mr Bailey said there had been a noticeable increase in the number of accidental house fires in July because of the below average cold weather across the southern part of the State.
“The fear is that the recent increase in house fires will continue throughout August and cause more people heartache,” Mr Bailey said.
FESA statistics show Morley has experienced the highest number of accidental house fires over the past five years with a total of 39 incidents, followed by Maylands with 38, Gosnells with 37, Balga with 37 and Armadale with 36.
In 2011-12 alone, certain suburbs experienced a significant jump in the number of accidental house fires compared with previous years:
• Ellenbrook: average two a year, eight in 2011/12
• Cloverdale: average three a year, seven in 2011/12
• Mandurah: average of two a year, eight in 2011/12
• Seville Grove: average of two a year, six in 2011/12
• Port Kennedy: average of one a year, three in 2011/12
Mr Bailey said FESA responded to more accidental house fires during winter months because of the increased use of heaters, open fires and electric blankets by people keeping warm.
“Recent house fires have been caused by clothes being draped over heaters, burning logs rolling out of open fires and children being left unattended with candles,” he said.
“Fires in the bedroom or lounge room account for 73 percent of all house fire fatalities and most commonly because heat sources have been left unattended.”
The most common causes of house fires are flammable items being too close to heaters, open fires, candles, careless smoking, unattended cooking and electric blankets.
To stay safe at home during winter:
• Keep flammable objects including beds, clothes and curtains at least one metre away from heaters or open fires.
• Test your smoke alarms monthly, maintain your alarms and change batteries yearly.
• Develop a home escape plan.
• Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
• Take care when cooking and with open fires. Never leave your cooking unattended.
• Never smoke in bed or when you are tired as you may fall asleep, causing the cigarette to fall onto fabric and catch fire.
• Check the heater, fireplace brickwork, chimney and flue before lighting a fire.
• Ensure chimneys and flues are clean and free of soot and ash deposits.
• If a fire starts in your home, leave and call triple zero (000) immediately.