FATAL BLAZE: The house fire at Slacks Creek that is now the subject of an inquest. Photo by Griffith Thomas
FATAL BLAZE: The house fire at Slacks Creek that is now the subject of an inquest. Photo by Griffith Thomas Griffith Thomas

QFES director: Smoke alarms needed in every bedroom

WITH a house fire every 4.7 hours on average in Queensland, smoke alarms should be compulsory in every bedroom in the state, an inquest was told.

Coroner James McDougall, investigating the deaths of 11 people in a disastrous house fire at Slacks Creek in 2011, heard recommendations yesterday from senior fire officers on ways to save lives.

Neil Reid, director of the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services state community safety operations branch, recommended laws for:

  • Hard-wired, inter-connected photoelectric smoke alarms to be mandatory in every bedroom and hallway.
  • Wirelessly inter-connected alarms where hard-wiring was impossible, so all alarms still sounded when one went off.
  • The law to be applied upon sale of homes or change of lease.
  • The alarms to be replaced every 10 years.

Mr Reid also recommended that households have written - and practised - evacuation plans.

He said Australian fire services were now pushing for sprinkler systems in homes, which could cost from $3000 to $6000 - "equivalent to putting in a granite bench top".

No lives had been lost to fire in buildings with sprinklers, Mr Reid said.

He said free home safety inspections by fire officers could be arranged through the Safehome program.

In other evidence yesterday Bernard Nunn, who was Brisbane area fire commander in 2011, ruled out the possibility that a cigarette caused the Slacks Creek fire.

A cigarette could not have been the ignition source because Australian standards changed in 2008, requiring that cigarettes burn only when puffed on.

The coroner will hear further evidence on Monday on the possibility that a desk lamp in the downstairs office started the fire, which killed Teukisia Jeanette Lale, her children Jeremiah, Lini, Jeanette, Selamafi and Richard, Fusi Taufa and daughter Anna Maria Taufa, and grandchildren La'Haina and Kalahnie Taufa and their cousin Adele Lee. - APN Newsdesk

Information relating to Mr Reid's recommendations is available on qfes.qld.gov.au


What sort of smoke alarm do I have?

Ionisation smoke alarms "smell smoke" (fumes interfere with current created by a radioactive source inside).

Photoelectric alarms "see smoke" (It blocks LED light from hitting an internal surface).

To check, temporarily take your alarm off the ceiling - if there's a radioactive symbol on it, it's an ionisation model.

Senior fire officer Neil Reid told the coroner photoelectric models were superior at detecting smouldering or longer-burning fires, which caused more deaths.

They also won't be set off by your toast, unless there is visible smoke.

Sprinkler systems are only set off by extreme heat.

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