Bushfires not the only threat

At the ready: Daniel Andrews and Ross Bell inspect their firefighting equipment.
At the ready: Daniel Andrews and Ross Bell inspect their firefighting equipment.

Armadale Fire Station officer Aaron Cuthbert said although the Forrestdale fire in late February had been the largest blaze faced this bushfire season, bush fires were not his only worry.

Though many think of April as the end of fire season, it marks a shift in firefighters’ focus to property fires, which Mr Cuthbert said were one of the biggest parts of the job.

Rescues were another, he said, and road accidents would also increase as the weather became wetter.

Meanwhile, he said, people moved inside, switched on heaters, dug out electric blankets, used dryers and lit fires, all of which could spell disaster, especially if appliances were in need of maintenance.

Mr Cuthbert warned people to check their smoke alarms and batteries now.

‘Many house fires happen in homes with no alarms at all, and some occupants have taken the batteries out,’ he said.

‘An alarm is only as good as the batteries inside it.

‘In some cases I’ve seen, one going off could have prevented damage and in others, given an early warning to get out.’

Mr Cuthbert recalled one instance when an elderly man fell asleep as his stew cooked.

It ignited and smoke filled the tiny flat.

A neighbour, alerted by the alarm pealing as the man lay unconscious, called the fire brigade in time to save his life.

‘I can recall many an incident where a smoke alarm has saved a life,’ Mr Cuthbert said. ‘Apart from guys who have been here only a few months, I’d put my money on the fact that everyone in this station would say the same.’