17 June 2022

Think before you flick the switch this winter, warns ACT emergency services

| Aiden Rothnie
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ACT Emergency Services Agency truck.

ACT Emergency Services Agency urges Canberrans to be wary of increased fire risk this winter. Photo: File.

The ACT Emergency Services Agency is urging Canberrans to be aware of fire risks around the house this winter.

With many Canberrans preparing to turn on their heaters as the cold starts to roll in, it’s important to remember the fire risks attached to electrical devices.

ACT firefighters have responded to more than 40 structure fires this year with the majority being preventable.

ACT Fire and Rescue Chief Officer Matthew Mavity said there was a larger risk of fire as we started using more electrical equipment.

“We tend to see more structure fires during winter, people are cooking more or using heaters and other appliances which can lead to electrical circuits and power boards overloading,” Chief Officer Mavity said.

“Some things Canberrans should never be complacent about include leaving cooking unattended, cleaning the lint filter in their dryer, and always keeping flammable materials at least one metre from the heater.”

Doing simple things such as these can decrease the risk and probability of fires.

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The ACT Emergency Services Agency is also reminding residents to be conscious of their use of wood fire heaters.

Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said wood heaters could be a massive source of air pollution if not maintained correctly.

“Smoke from wood heaters is one of the largest sources of air pollution in the ACT, making the maintenance and efficient operation of wood heaters during winter paramount to protecting the community’s health and the environment,” she said.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said it was not only essential that Canberrans knew how to prevent a fire from starting in their homes, but what to do if a fire started.

“I encourage everyone to take some time this weekend to create and practise a fire escape plan. It only takes a few minutes and is a simple, practical way to ensure your household knows what to do in the event of a house fire,” he said.

“We urge the community to reduce home fire risks and stay safe this winter. If a fire does start in your home, it is important to respond immediately, evacuate your home or building, and call Emergency Triple Zero (000).”

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