Fewer fire fa­tal­i­ties but no room for com­pla­cency

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

The num­ber of people dy­ing in house fires is at an all­time low but there is still more to be done, the fire ser­vice says.

Ten Ki­wis lost their lives in house fires in the past 12 months.

Among them was a Mt Welling­ton woman and a 6-year-old Oranga girl.

This year’s toll is the low­est on record and half the num­ber of last year’s deaths.

How­ever most fa­tal­i­ties were avoid­able, fire ser­vice chief ex­ec­u­tive and na­tional com­man­der Paul Bax­ter says.

It’s

be­lieved

a

fire

on Hard­ing Ave, Mt Welling­ton, that killed one woman in Oc­to­ber, started when she fell asleep while smok­ing.

There were no work­ing smoke alarms in the house – a com­mon fac­tor in most fa­tal fires.

Lit­tle Ana­seini Ma’asi died a month later in her Oranga home. It is be­lieved the fire was started by a younger child play­ing with matches.

‘‘It is im­por­tant we all take lessons from these deaths,’’ Bax­ter says.

People liv­ing alone, us­ing al­co­hol and leav­ing cook­ing unat­tended are other com­mon fac­tors.

Many fa­tal fires hap­pen in rented houses. It is not a le­gal re­quire­ment for land­lords to in­stall smoke alarms but Hous­ing New Zealand puts them in all its prop­er­ties.

And while in­sur­ance com- pa­nies rec­om­mend smoke alarms, whether you have them or not doesn’t usu­ally af­fect whether a claim is paid out.

There are more than 3000 house fires in New Zealand ev­ery year. The most com­mon cause is people not pay­ing at­ten­tion when cook­ing.

‘‘We can­not af­ford to be com­pla­cent – we are aware of some fires where fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als es­caped death by mere sec­onds,’’ Bax­ter says.

The fire ser­vice rec­om­mends in­stalling long-life pho­to­elec­tric smoke alarms.

Fire wise: Fewer people are dy­ing in house fires.

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