Firefighters have razed a house - all in the name of education.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand conducted a controlled house burn in Palmerston North to draw attention to the issue and demonstrate how quickly fire can spread.

The organisation says it wants people to be vigilant around their use of electronics and other potential fire hazards.

National advisor for fire risk management, Peter Gallagher, said it took less than five minutes for a house fire to become unsurvivable.


"In fact, a room can be entirely engulfed in flames in as little as a minute and a half. That's why it's so important people know what could potentially start a fire in their home, and how they can be prepared if one should break out," he said.

Did you see how quickly that fire took hold of the house? Just one minute in and the rooms were already filled with thick smoke! Within three minutes it was completely engulfed in flames 🔥🔥🔥 This is why we can't stress enough the importance of having working smoke alarms in your home, they are your only voice, as every second counts. #houseonfire #firesafety #smokealarmssavelives #escapemyhouse

Posted by Fire and Emergency NZ on Monday, 30 April 2018

Of the 3140 house fires fire crews responded to last year, more than 900 were because people didn't look while they cooked, while 435 fires were due to electrical faults or failure, or the way people used electrical devices.

"The number one cause of avoidable house fires has long been unattended cooking, but firefighters have noticed an emerging trend of electronics and electrical appliances being used incorrectly and sparking a fire.

"While most electrical appliances will operate safely when used the right way, incorrect use can cause them to overheat, which sometimes leads to fires," Gallagher said.

"Leaving laptops, tablets and phones charging while snuggled amongst duvets and other bedding can block their air vents, creating a risk of overheating and potentially starting a fire."

Gallagher said people should always use the right charger supplied with the device, and ensure it was in a well ventilated location, especially if they were charging overnight.

"As the use of these devices become more commonplace, it's crucial people know how to use them properly so they can avoid starting a fire."

"Overloaded power sockets is also another issue and we want to remind people not to overload any power sockets or multi-boxes with double adapters. One appliance should be used per power socket."

He advised people to ensure appliance cords were in good condition and weren't frayed, and not to put them under carpets or mats, which could lead to damage and overheating.

"It's about changing people's behaviour, rather than the appliances or electronics themselves. It's what people do, or fail to do with them, that creates the fire risk."

He said the house burn also demonstrated the importance of having working smoke alarms installed.

"Smoke alarms will give you early warning if there's a house fire, and that early detection is lifesaving."

Gallagher said the best protection was working long-life photoelectric smoke alarms in every bedroom, living area and hallway in the home.

The house used for the burn was earmarked for demolition in an area being redeveloped, and it was offered to Fire and Emergency for an exercise and to raise awareness around fire safety.