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Cold snap prompts firies to warn: keep ash out of trash

Published: 28th June 2016

 As record low temperatures continue to bite NSW, Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) firefighters are warning householders to take every precaution in disposing of ash from fireplaces and other wood-fuelled heaters to avoid a potential home fire.

The warning comes after a fire damaged the top floor of a two-storey house at Hawks Nest on Sunday (26 June 2016). The home’s occupants had cleaned out a fireplace and, believing the ashes were cold, placed them in a wheelie bin for disposal. The bin contents ignited and the fire spread up an external wall and into the top level of the home through an open window.

“With the recent cold snap across NSW, people are lighting up the fireplace and other wood-fuelled heaters and cooking appliances,” FRNSW Community Engagement Unit manager, Superintendent Mick Ollerenshaw, said.

“Householders need to be mindful that ash can retain heat for a long period of time after the fire has been put out.

“When disposing of ash from fireplaces and other wood-fuelled heaters or cooking appliances, ensure it has cooled completely and consider dampening it down to ensure it has been completely extinguished.

“Also try to avoid disposing of ash in waste bins. Consider a garden bed or another safe outdoor location for disposal. Another tip is to make sure your fireplace chimney is clean and it’s properly ventilated.”

With this year being the 10th anniversary of the introduction of smoke alarm legislation, firefighters are also reminding NSW residents it is time to ReAlarm your home by replacing your smoke alarms.

“This year we’re encouraging residents to replace their outdated alarms with the latest photoelectric smoke alarms, which provide earlier detection and fewer false alarms,” Superintendent Ollerenshaw said.

More firefighter home fire safety tips:

• Keep clothing and other flammable materials at least one metre from your heater
• Clean out the clothes dryer filter after every load
• Don't overload your powerboards
• Never use wheat bags in bed
• Ensure you have a working photoelectric smoke alarm and a practised home escape plan
• If a fire does occur, get out, stay out and call Triple Zero (000)

Editors’ note: Images from the Hawks Nest fire are available by contacting the FRNSW Media Unit on (02) 9265 2907, or via the FRNSW Facebook page.