AFTER attending 1029 fires across the Northern Rivers between May 2011 and April 2012 Lismore fire fighters are calling on people to prepare their homes for the winter fire season.
Lismore fire station commander Erin Rampling said an easy way for people to ensure their home was protected this fire season was to do a home fire safety audit.
"A fire can take hold in just three minutes but it only takes moments to prevent one," he said.
"Like turning off the heater when going to bed or changing the batteries of your smoke alarm and planning ahead."
However, the World Fire Safety Foundation Chairman said more than 90% of Northern Rivers home owners are in danger due to inferior smoke alarms.
Former fire fighter Adrian Butler said the majority of homes are fitted with ionisation smoke alarms which have a slower response time to smouldering fires than the superior photo-electric alarms.
"In smouldering fires where the heat is low the fire produces few sub-micron particles and in most cases the ionisation alarm will not operate," Mr Butler said.
This detection delay could be the difference between life and death.
Mr Butler said it was about time the NSW Government followed the lead of the Northern Territory which, on November 1 last year, legislated all new premises must install photo-electric alarms.
"In commercial buildings you have to put photo- electric alarms in so why do we have one standard for commercial buildings and a completely separate standard for our homes where we sleep? It's insane," he said.
Mr Butler said the easiest way to identify an ionisation smoke alarm was to look for a yellow radioactive symbol when changing the batteries.
A spokesperson for NSW Fire Commissioner Greg Mullins said Fire and Rescue NSW recommended home owners install photo- electric alarms.
"Fire and Rescue NSW supports research that indicates that photo- electric smoke alarms are more effective in some common situations," the spokesperson said.
"It was for this reason that Fire and Rescue NSW initiated a national change of policy which was adopted by all Australian fire services, to recommend photo-electric alarms, rather than ionisation alarms."
Mr Rampling said parents needed to educate their children about knowing the nearest cross street, address and phone number as it could assist fire fighters in an emergency.
He said he encouraged people to visit the Lismore Fire station this Saturday from 10am for their annual open day to coincide with Fire Prevention Week.
For information on conducting a home fire safety audit visit www.homefiresafety.com.au.
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