CHANGE AGENTS: Grafton Fire Brigade deputy captains Chris Rumpf, left, and Mark Aspinall demonstrate changing a smoke alarm battery.
CHANGE AGENTS: Grafton Fire Brigade deputy captains Chris Rumpf, left, and Mark Aspinall demonstrate changing a smoke alarm battery. Tim Howard

GOOD DECISION: Ten years since smoke alarms became mandatory

GRAFTON Fire Brigade knows just how important a working smoke alarm is in your home.

Brigade station officer Col Drayton said it was 10 years since the NSW Government introduced legislation making smoke alarms mandatory.

"It's one thing having the alarm, it's another for it to be working," Mr Drayton said. "That's what we want to get out there this week."

He said it was was important people regularly changed the batteries in their alarms, particularly if they were still powered by nine-volt batteries.

He said technological advances were making it easier for home owners to maintain their smoke alarms.

"Really the old alarms with the nine-volt batteries are outdated," he said.

"Ideally they should be replaced with the newer photoelectric alarms powered by a 10-year lithium battery.

"Photoelectric alarms have fewer flash activations and are more effective at detecting the types of fires that are most likely to result in a home fire death - smouldering fires."

Mr Drayton's experience as a fire officer has shown him repeatedly that smoke detectors work.

"When we arrive at a fire and everyone is outside safe, it is nearly always the case a smoke alarm has sounded correctly," he said.

"Even if the people in the house don't hear it, the neighbours do and they get involved."

He said a fire can take hold in just three minutes and fill a home with deadly smoke, so getting an early warning something was wrong was vital.

Mr Drayton said the brigade kept a database of about 100 people whom it regularly changed the smoke alarms.

"They might be old or in wheelchairs or not up to it physically, so we come around and do it," he said.

He said using the end of daylight saving as a marker was a good way to remind yourself to change over.

"Change your clocks, change your alarm. It's something that has to happen every six months," he said.



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