Fire safety remains a concern in NSW homes

By Gerv Tacadena

The New South Wales government is urged to strengthen the state's fire safety standards

A new study from the Fire and Rescue NSW has urged experts to call for legislation that will strengthen the state's fire safety standards, especially with regards to residential properties.

According to the Domain Group, the study noted that one in four homes do not have a working smoke alarm device. This figure is significantly behind Queensland, which is considered to have the best fire safety practice in the country.

In 2016, Queensland amended its Building Fire Safety Act, which made it a requirement for every room in the house to have interconnected smoke alarm devices.

Fire and Rescue NSW assistant commissioner Mark Whybro said this is very different in NSW, where authorities require at least one device in the house only.

“You’re most vulnerable when you’re asleep, and you want everyone to know about it, and that fact is modern furnishings burn very quickly compared to older furniture,” he told the Domain Group.

Citing the group's study, Whybro said a fire can easily consume a house in as early as three minutes. Additionally, the study also found that more than 50% of home fire deaths in the state were in properties with no working fire alarm.

With these concerning findings, the Fire and Rescue NSW has written to the Australian Building Codes Board to recommend smoke alarm requirements be increased across the country.

Real Estate Institute of NSW president Leanne Pilkington supports the proposed changes, adding that it is the responsibility of landlords to ensure that properties are equipped with working smoke alarms.

He said: “We’ve got to be careful how much responsibility we’re placing on property managers. They’re not experts in all these different areas of the building code. Landlords should be required to have professional inspections done on a yearly basis.”