By Ainsley O’Keefe

The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) have pleaded with the community to demonstrate safe heating practices at the launch of their ‘Winter Fire Safety’ campaign today at their training facility in Brisbane’s east.

Firefighters educated the community on the risks associated with heaters in the household and the dangers that surround families throughout the winter.

An example by the QFRS where a heater is drying clothes in a bedroom: Ainsley O'Keefe

Queensland Minister for Police and Community Safety Jack Dempsey said their are hidden dangers in the home, especially in the winter.

“During winter we all like to be toast and cosy in our homes and with our families but there are a number of hidden dangers and we only have to look at the sheer statistics,” he says.

“There were 544 fires last year and 80 of them were particularly involving heaters.

“A lot of the fires are preventable and I really do implore the community to take some ownership with this issue.

“Take the time to change those batteries, check that your heaters are in the right position and are away from clothing and other incendiary devices.”

QFRS Acting Commissioner Iain Mackenzie said there were 12 fatalities last winter, and 27 fatalities in total throughout the year.

“We have a lot of fires as you can see here today that start with things like heaters, whether it is bar heaters or blow heaters, it is usually misuse that causes the fires,” he says.

“A fire moves very quickly, within a few minutes it will engulf the room and certainly those few minutes are vital and that is why we encourage everybody to have working photo electric smoke alarms in their house.

The dangers of heating clothing near a heater in the household: Ainsley O'Keefe

“People do get complacent because they live in brick homes – they think they won’t burn.

“It’s the furnishing that is the real danger and in this day and age with the modern furniture that has foams and plastics, they burn very quickly.

“They give off dangerous fumes and it takes only a few minutes to cause death.”

Learn about fire safety: QFRS