Senior Fire Fighter Mike Grunske (left) and Station Officer Erin Rampling of Lismore Fire Station warn about the fire hazards created by electrical Christmas decorations.
Senior Fire Fighter Mike Grunske (left) and Station Officer Erin Rampling of Lismore Fire Station warn about the fire hazards created by electrical Christmas decorations. Jay Cronan

Firies warn about Christmas lights

FIREFIGHTERS are urging families not to become distracted by the bright lights this festive season and to remain vigilant about the risks Christmas lights can bring.

Across NSW between December 1 last year and January 31 this year, there were 673 residential fires with 85 people injured.

At least 21 of those fires involved electrical equipment.

Of particular concern to the Lismore firefighters this season is people overloading their power boards with festive fairy lights and flashing decorations.

"What we find during this time period is the power board can be overloaded," Lismore Fire Station officer Erin Rampling said.

"The Christmas tree usually goes next to the TV, which is plugged into a power board with the DVD player, the sound system, Christmas lights etc.

"If it's a power board that has been in a box for 12 months, it gets a bit of dust in it and dust acts as a fuel.

"It is important people check the power boards are dust-free and well maintained."

Mr Rampling recommended people invest in power boards with an overload safety switch and not use double adapters to plug Christmas lights in.

He remembers attending one house fire that was started by a rug being over the top of an extension cord and power board.

"That started a fire but we were able to get there and put it out," he said.

"That is an easy thing for people to do because they don't want anyone tripping over it or they don't want it to look ugly."

Christmas light veteran Peter Harley has been decorating his Goonellabah home in Trinity Dr for the past 15 years.

Mr Harley said he and his wife are conscious of not overloading their power sockets.

"What we do is we try not to overload," he said.

"We break it down into smaller sections and instead of boarding them all together we will put it into another point in a different area."

Mr Harvey said he does not use double adapters to plug in Christmas lights. He uses 12 power points for his "average" light display.

It was a busy month for Northern Rivers firefighters in December last year. On Christmas Eve a house in Alstonville burnt down, followed by a weatherboard home in Lismore on Christmas Day.

A few days later a cottage in Byron Bay was burnt to the ground - thought to have been started by a gas bottle explosion.

 

Xmas Fire-Safe Tips

  • Use only one item per socket and don't overload power boards
  • Ensure power boards have overload and earth leakage protection
  • Only use Christmas lights with an Australian Standards label
  • Keep children and flammable materials away from lights
  • Switch off all electrical displays before going to bed
  • Ensure fire alarms and smoke detectors are working

Source: NSW Fire and Rescue



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