Keeping multicultural communities ‘fire safe’ this winter
Firefighters in Sydney’s south-west are taking Fire and Rescue NSW’s (FRNSW) winter safety message door to door, urging members of the area’s Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) communities to protect themselves and their loved ones as the weather gets colder.
A record 16 people were killed in structure fires across NSW last winter, with 12 of the fatalities deemed ‘preventable’ by FRNSW investigators. Another 87 people were injured in the 895 house fires that occurred across the state.
In almost half of those incidents, smoke alarms were not present or failed to activate.
Fire crews from Busby and Liverpool stations are sharing their life-saving message with locals for whom English may not be the primary language spoken at home.
Almost a third of NSW residents were born overseas (29.3%), and nearly 2 million have a first language other than English, which is why FRNSW is making a concerted effort to ensure their winter safety message is communicated to everyone.
Around 300 different languages are spoken, and 144 religions are practised across the state.
People are being reminded that, as the days and nights get colder, they should never use outdoor heaters, BBQs or other cookers inside their home. This equipment can produce carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas you can’t see, taste or smell.
If you suspect someone has been exposed to carbon monoxide, call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26, or in an emergency, call triple-zero (000).
Residents should also keep candles and incense burners away from curtains and never leave them unattended.
Other safety tips they are encouraged to follow include:
- Keep looking when cooking.
- Keep all flammable items at least 1 metre from the heater/fireplace.
- Clean the lint filter in your dryer before use.
- Don’t overload power boards or power points.
- Ensure your flue and chimney are regularly cleaned.
- Don’t smoke or use wheat bags in bed.
- If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, cover and roll.
- Once you’ve evacuated during a fire, don’t re-enter the property.
FRNSW is committed to building meaningful and genuine relationships with our CaLD communities by providing practical support, such as:
- Identifying needs in local communities, and planning strategies, activities and events that may assist in meeting those needs, particularly in relation to fire safety education
- Engaging with culturally diverse community groups to understand their experiences, skillsets and practices, and how this can be applied to reduce community risk
- Providing multilingual fire safety information through radio communications 24/7, in translated materials, and through our FRNSW Community Language Scheme representatives.
Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib said:
“We said language shouldn’t be a problem, so Fire and Rescue NSW are ensuring the messages about fire safety are accessible to everyone, regardless of the language they speak. When it comes to fire safety it’s in everyone’s interest to be well-informed.”
“This is our approach of making sure we do all we can to get the fire safety message out because no one should suffer a tragedy simply because of a language barrier.”
“The more we can meet community where they are at, the better we become at ensuring our safety messages are received by one and all.”
Fire and Rescue NSW Acting Commissioner Megan Stiffler said:
“There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to communicating our winter fire safety messaging with every person or family in NSW.”
“We work every day to make sure we tailor and target our messages to different communities, so everyone has the opportunity to keep themselves, and those they love, safe.”
Member for Liverpool Charishma Kaliyanda said:
"In a multicultural community like Liverpool, initiatives like this help support some of our most vulnerable residents by connecting them with the resources and information they need to keep themselves and their families safe."
"Cost of living pressures are placing many households in Liverpool under increasing strain this winter and we want to ensure that families have access to vital, life saving information and resources."