The first day of winter (1 June) marks the beginning of house fire season, and the Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) is reminding South Australians to be cautious with heaters, electric blankets, open fires and when cooking.
The warning comes as 18 new recruits today graduate and join the MFS. The graduates hail from varied backgrounds, including a former chef, lifeguard, plumber, fitness coach, Army reservist, police officer, mechanic, forester, barber and schoolteacher.
Cooking mishaps account for around 70% of winter house fires, with South Australian firefighters having battled 1,080 cooking related house fires in the past 2.5 years.
Kingston CFS volunteer John Douglass said they had been called to two house fires just last month, and that kitchen fires were the most common.
He said there were a few things to be aware of to avoid house fires, like never putting hot ashes into the bin.
“You put the bin out, and an hour later, whoof, there it goes,” he said.
“Also never hang clothes near a radiator...don’t walk away from the kitchen and leave stuff on the stove.”
“We’ve probably gone to five kitchen fires over the past three years - people are cooking, they go to sit down and watch TV, forget about it.. and the next thing.. your house is on fire!”
Mr Douglass also suggested that if burning candles to put them on a plate, so if you do forget or fall asleep, they can’t burn through onto wooden surfaces, and to never leave them in a drafty spot, like next to a window.
“It’ll push the curtain over it and then up she goes!”
Emergency Services Minister Peter Malinauskas said cooking mishaps were a common cause of house fires.
“Over the past two and a half years, South Australian firefighters have battled 1,080 house fires caused by cooking mishaps. I urge the community never to leave cooking unattended,” Mr Malinauskas said.
“These new recruits join the Service as the temperatures drop and we enter house fire season. During the winter months the community turns to comforts such as heaters, electric blankets, warm food and open fires. Statistically, the key house fire danger over winter is cooking fires.”
MFS Chief Officer Greg Crossman said emergency services workers play a vital role in the community.
“No one can underestimate the importance of emergency services workers to the community. These recruits will immediately start protecting South Australian lives, homes, businesses, infrastructure and industry.Mr Crossman said.