Masterton fires spark alarm warnings

By Hayley Gastmeierhayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz -
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This Masterton sleepout with no smoke detector was extensively damaged after a fire last month. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
This Masterton sleepout with no smoke detector was extensively damaged after a fire last month. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Smoke alarms are not for homes alone but should be installed in all outbuildings and caravans, says Masterton Fire Service officer Mike Cornford.

Mr Cornford's comments were prompted after recently attending several fires in outbuildings, including one which gutted a sleepout on Totara St in Masterton last month.

"We've had a number of fires in properties that haven't had fire alarms or smoke detectors in them, in particular caravans, workshops or sleepouts attached to houses, where there has been extensive damage done," Mr Cornford said.

"They certainly could have been avoided or would have been detected earlier, resulting in less damage, had smoke alarms been installed."

He said people in general had smoke alarms in their houses but often did not think to put them in caravans, sheds and sleepouts.

"With daylight savings about to change, it's a good idea for people to look at their homes in terms of fire safety.

"We use the phrase: change your clock, change your battery."

The consequences of not having smoke alarms installed could result in lost possessions, significant damage to a house or building and, in the worst cases, death.

"We call smoke the silent killer. If it's the middle of the night and your house fills up with smoke, you can't smell it.

"The smell of smoke isn't going to wake you up -- you're probably going to pass into unconsciousness."

Mr Cornford said these scenarios could be avoided with smoke alarms.

"If you ring the fire station promptly the damage can be minimal.

"The earlier the fire is detected, the quicker we get there and the less the damage."

He said the most important thing to do if in a fire was to promptly exit the building.

"Get out of the house quickly, stay out and call us from a neighbour's place.

"Don't go back in to rescue possessions or animals -- get out and stay out."

Mr Cornford said it was vital people kept their mail box numbers visible, by clearing away branches and leaves or anything that may be obscuring it, so houses could be quickly identified by the fire service.

He said people also needed to get their chimneys regularly checked, to avoid chimney fires caused from soot build-up.

Anyone after a fire safety check on their homes could call the Masterton Fire Service.

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