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NSW households failing smoke alarm recommendations

Published: 11 April 2013
NSW residents are placing their homes at great risk of fire with only 13 per cent of the state’s family households admitting to meeting Australia’s fire and emergency services’ guidelines, according to new research.

NSW residents are placing their homes at great risk of fire with only 13 per cent of the state’s family households meeting fire and emergency services guidelines.

Only 13 per cent of NSW households surveyed are testing their smoke alarms monthly with only 34 per cent changing their smoke alarm batteries annually, according to new research.

Australia's fire and emergency services, together with partner Duracell, are urging Australians to have a working smoke alarm and a practiced home escape plan, through the 'Change your clock, change your smoke alarm battery' campaign.

One in three family households had disconnected their smoke alarm to stop a "false" alarm, rendering the unit useless and putting families at risk, the research revealed.

"Australia’s fire and emergency services attended more than 13,000 home fires around the country in 2012. Most of these were caused by faulty electrical equipment or leaving cooking unattended," said Superintendent Tom Cooper of Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW).

"Australians are placing themselves in danger by failing to test and check their smoke alarms, according to this latest research from Duracell," he said.

The research also revealed that only 33 per cent of family households with a single smoke alarm test it properly (by pressing the button until the siren sounds); most house fires start in the kitchen yet 96 per cent of Australian mothers admit to multi-tasking while cooking; and 74 per cent of mothers who prepare the family meal admit to accidentally leaving a cooking appliance on.

"Australia’s fire and emergency services and Duracell recommend using long-lasting 9 volt alkaline batteries and regularly testing alarms are working to ensure year-round protection," said Superintendent Cooper.

  • Clean your smoke alarm with a vacuum cleaner annually to remove particles that affect performance;
  • Replace your smoke alarm battery annually with a long-lasting 9 volt alkaline battery;
  • Install smoke alarms in areas that will wake all occupants in the home and give them time to evacuate;
  • Develop a home escape plan and practise it regularly.

For more information on smoke alarm usage and fire escape plans visit

National research was conducted by Galaxy Research, on behalf of Duracell, between 15 and 20 February 2013. A total of 1,253 mothers of children aged 17 or younger were surveyed.

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