Kitchen fires spark concern

July 20, 2017

Many house fires such as this can be avoided with greater fire safety awareness.

More than 40 per cent of house fires in Victoria occur in the kitchen, the latest statistics reveal.

Preventable residential fire figures released by Victorian fire agencies MFB and CFA show firefighters attended 3098 fires across the state last year, resulting in 14 fatalities and more than $88million in property loss.

The kitchen continues to be a fire hotspot, with 1306 incidents in 2016, accounting for 42 per cent of all fires. Of that number, 493 fires were caused by unattended cooking.

Other top areas of origin include the bedroom (254) and lounge (209).

Faulty electrical distribution, electrical appliances and central heating also continue to be major causes of preventable residential fires.

MFB Acting Chief Officer Paul Stacchino said while the state experienced less preventable residential fires overall than in the previous year, the numbers remained too high.

‘‘There was a 3.5 per cent drop in total preventable residential fires last year, which suggests that people are becoming more conscious about fire safety, which is heartening,’’ Mr Stacchino said.

‘‘But there are still more than 3000 preventable residential fires in Victoria each year which are mostly avoidable.

‘‘Last year 14 people died in preventable house fires in our state. That’s 14 grieving families living without their loved ones.

‘‘This isn’t a number our community should accept.’’

CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington said winter remained a traditionally busy time for firefighters.

‘‘There is a perception in the community that the majority of fires tend to happen in summer, but this simply isn’t the case,’’ Mr Warrington said.

‘‘As the weather cools down, people bring out their heaters, turn on their electric blankets and stoke up their wood fires.

‘‘This means we see a spike in heating-related fires.

‘‘Taking small safety precautions could be the difference between life and death — it’s just not worth the risk for you or your family.

‘‘Unattended cooking is a major hazard all-year round.

‘‘This often happens when people are distracted and forget about that pot boiling on the stove, or leave something in the oven while they run a quick errand.

‘‘We also find that people leave candles and oil burners unattended in a dangerous position where they can catch on to curtains and other flammable items.

‘‘We strongly urge people to keep an eye on open flames at all times and never leave them burning when they are not around.’’

To find out more about preventable house fires and how to avoid them, visit Community/Home-Safety.html or /plan-prepare/fires-in-the-home/

Key facts and statistics

In 2016 there were 3098 preventable house fires in Victoria, down from 3211 in 2015, but still an average of more than eight a day. In 2016, 14 people died in preventable house fires. The total property loss was $88.6million

Almost half of all residential fires in Victoria occur in household kitchens.

People aged 65 years or older or people with a disability are at greater risk than the general population to die in a residential fire.

Fire causes in 2016:

Unattended cooking: 493

Faulty electrical appliances: 250

Faulty electrical distribution: 251

Central heating: 100

Heaters: 63

Smoking: 76

Chimneys and flues: 136

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