NSW inquest into daughter’s death finds lack of working smoke alarms in family home

A NEW South Wales Coroner’s inquest into the tragic death of nine-year-old girl has revealed her Western Sydney home had no working smoke alarms at the time of the fire in 2016.

Indeed, her death reminds us of our responsibility in educating young Australians about being fire safety conscious.

It is believed that the girl was playing with candles and matches when the rug she was on caught fire. She suffered severe burns to 85% of her body and subsequently succumbed to her injuries two months after.

Working smoke alarms are invaluable tools to alert home occupants at the presence of smoke for a swift escape. This home had no working smoke alarms.  

Australian fire services recommend that homes be fitted with photoelectric smoke alarms. The photoelectric type is more efficient than ionisation smoke alarms in detecting slow smouldering fires which are the most common type of household fires.

Smoke alarms must only be checked by pressing the test button. Use a vacuum cleaner every four to six weeks to remove any dust build-up which can cause the smoke alarm to sound a false alarm.

If the smoke alarm uses a 9V replaceable battery, have it replaced at least once every year and when the smoke alarm indicates.

It is imperative that homes be checked for any potential fire risks. Electrical appliances and cabling are common causes for a house fire and need to be check to determine if they are faulty.

Never leave an electrical appliance or charging device on soft furnishings (e.g. blankets) as the heat can cause the material to ignite.

In homes with children, any product or combination of products such as candles, matches and cleaning chemicals that have an ability to cause fire should be out of their reach at all times.

Parents should find an appropriate time to teach their children about being fire safety conscious and the ramifications of dangerous activities that can cause fire.

Homes that preach and practise a fire-safety mindset are increasing their chances of survival in the event of a fire.