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National Commander Appalled At Public Apathy

17 March 2004

Fire Service National Commander Mike Hall says he is appalled with public apathy following three deaths in fires this week.

"The same themes keep emerging, such as children not taught by their families about what to do in a fire, drunken adults being careless with cooking and houses without smoke alarms or smoke alarms without batteries.

"We keep reinforcing these messages with the public, but some people just do not listen," Mr Hall says.

"There's nothing more heartbreaking for firefighters than turning out to a fire where people die because they haven't taken simple precautions. It's even more heartbreaking when children are involved because we know children who are taught the right messages can save themselves.

"We have many reported cases where children had done the right thing in a fire because of what they had learnt through our school programmes and safety advertising.

"Similarly adults have reported being alerted to fire by a working smoke alarm, or getting their families out of a fire because they had an escape plan."

Mr Hall says the Fire Service's safety campaigns are effective, but people have to take responsibility for themselves. "Survivors of fires repeat time and time again their shock at how quickly fire spreads.

"We can only do so much. People have to listen to what they are being told and prepare themselves and their children."

The Fire Service's latest campaign runs this weekend. It reminds New Zealanders to check their smoke alarms when they are putting their clocks back.

"Let's hope people take notice of this message and also take the time to practise an escape plan with their families."


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