Think a house fire could never happen to you? Think again


It was a midwinter day when the fire started in the kitchen of the Ngunnawal home just outside of Canberra. It soon spread to the rangehood above the stove, threatening to creep into the roof where it could quickly inflame the house.

The two men home did what they could, but in the end the only thing they could do was call the fire brigade. The professionals quickly extinguished the blaze and prevented any further damage to the property, but it was shock enough for the two men. Both were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, and $30,000 worth of damage awaited them on their return.

For the firefighters, it was the same old story of tragedy barely averted, but for the house’s occupants it was a wake-up call. What still leaves firefighters across the land shaking their heads, though, is that despite decades of fire safety campaigns some people still need a close call before they curb potentially hazardous behaviour in the home.

How to avoid house fires


Statistics from Victorian fire services Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB) confirm there are over 3,000 house fires in Victoria every year, or more than eight house fires per day. In the sunshine state, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services figures show that 2,500 house fires are recorded statewide during winter alone over a six-year period between 2009 and 2014.

While the number and severity of house fires throughout Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia vary, one common thread is clear: the lion’s share of house fires start in the kitchen.

Unattended cooking or oil overheating are listed (see below) as the number one causes of house fires in each state, with these accounting for between one third and one half of all house fires.

Most tragically, the majority of these potentially deadly house fires are completely avoidable.

There are a number of small yet significant measures you can put in place to minimise your family’s risk of being affected by a house fire. These are outlined in the video below as a series of “really simple dos and don’ts for home fire safety”, says Tammy Garrett, CFA Manager Community Safety.

“It’s really important for everybody in the family to take responsibility to ensure everyone is safe,” Tammy says.

“Having a well-practised and written home escape plan could save your life. Don’t let your home become a statistic.”

Common house fire causes in Victoria

  1. Unattended cooking
  2. Inappropriate heater use
  3. Electrical fires

Source: Kids Safe Victoria

Common house fire causes in South Australia

  1. Kitchen Stoves
  2. Electric Blankets
  3. Faulty Wiring
  4. Smoking in bed
  5. Lighting
  6. Flammable Liquids
  7. Clothes Dryers
  8. Candles
  9. Home Heating
  10. Children playing with matches, lighters.

Source: South Australian Country Fire Service

Common house fire causes New South Wales

  1. Unattended cooking
  2. Electrical faults: faulty appliances, faulty wiring
  3. Home heating: fixed and portable heating, wood fires and log burners
  4. Smoking
  5. Candles and oil burners


Top house fire causes in Queensland

1.            Oil overheating

2.            Electrical fault

3.            Sparks/embers

4.            Objects on stove

5.            Unattended candles

6.            Children/matches

7.            Cigarettes

8.            Arson

9.            Too close to heater


Source: RCQ research

Find out more about home fire safety and escape plans in your state:

South Australia:

Regional Fire Service

Metro Fire Service


Country Fire Authority (CFA)

Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB)

Home Fire Checklist

New South Wales

Regional Fire Service

Metro Fire Service

Home Fire Safety Audit


Regional Fire Service

Metro Fire Service


Date: 16 September 2015
Category: Lumo Community

comments powered by Disqus