Jul 17, 2023

Older couple perished in house fire, didn’t have smoke detectors

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Firefighters located the older people inside and ambulance paramedics attempted resuscitation. [Source: 9News]

It has been revealed that an older couple that died after being pulled from a dangerous house fire in Sydney’s west last week did not have smoke detectors installed in their home. 

Neighbours desperately attempted to rescue the 81-year-old man and 75-year-old woman from their Wetherill Park home in the early hours of Wednesday before a crew of six fire trucks and 24 firefighters arrived at the scene. Firefighters described the home to be “under extreme fire conditions” and were forced to use equipment to get inside.

Firefighters located the older people inside and ambulance paramedics attempted resuscitation before they were pronounced dead on the scene. 

The devastating event sparks the desperate need for fire safety awareness and to establish a Home Fire Action Plan in the winter months.

Residential fires cause more deaths each year than floods, storms and bushfires combined as more people reach for their heaters, light their fires and plug in their electric blankets.

On average, more than one person dies in a house fire in Australia every week and people over the age of 65 are at greater risk of dying in a residential fire.

Common causes of a house fire include:

  • Leaving cooking unattended on the stovetop
  • Electrical cords, curtains, tea towels, long sleeves and oven cloths too close to the stovetop
  • Sleeping or leaving the home with electrical appliances like an electric blanket on
  • Faulty electrical wiring in the home
  • Overloaded power points, double adaptors and/ or power-boards
  • Electrical cords or cables running under rugs, mats, bedding and/or pillows
  • Smoking in the home, particularly in bed
  • Unattended lit candles
  • Heat build-up in light fittings and lamps

This is why it is important to have these high-risk appliances checked annually and if you have sophisticated security measures on doors and windows, establish a Home Fire Action Plan. You should ensure everyone in the household knows what to do, which can even include conducting fire drills to practise.

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Fire and Rescue New South Wales’ Acting Commissioner, Megan Stiffler confirmed the nature of the couple’s death to the press. [Source: ABC News]

Fire and Rescue New South Wales are still investigating how the Wetherill Park fire started, but its Acting Commissioner echoed the importance of alleviating hazards in your home this winter. 

“You must know your escape plan, you must know where your keys are,” Fire and Rescue NSW acting Commissioner, Megan Stiffler told reporters. 

“The neighbours tried to make entry but all the windows and doors of the home had security and without the right tools from Fire and Rescue it is almost impossible to make entry with your bare hands.”


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