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Student's death avoidable, says Fire Service

Student's death avoidable, says Fire Service

Fire safety messages should be hammered home to students at every opportunity, and tertiary institutions are being urged to do their bit.

This plea from a fire chief follows the tragic death of a Palmerston North student at the weekend. The 21-year-old man went back into a house that was on fire to look for his flatmate.

Chief fire officer Roger Calder says the man's death was tragic and needless and rams home the importance of tertiary institutions getting the fire safety message across to their students.

"All learning and tertiary institutions should make sure their students understand basic fire safety principles, such as smoke alarms, escape plans in the event of a fire and getting out, and staying out, if there is a fire.

"Never go back into a burning house, for whatever reason. It can be the last thing you do."

"This tragedy was avoidable. Learning institutions and the Fire Service take considerable steps to highlight the risk of fire to students entering the tertiary education years of their life."

Mr Calder says the Fire Service works with student housing landlord groups and associations, the Palmerston North City Council, tertiary institution induction/orientation days and provides smoke alarm and escape plan advice to students.

"The Fire Service takes every opportunity to promote smoke alarms, escape plans and fire safe behaviour to students, landlords and tertiary institutions."

"It would appear that this property had smoke alarms installed by the landlord. But alcohol and not using the get out, stay out escape plan principle were factors in this tragedy."

The fire started in a couch on the verandah of the student cottage and quickly spread to the living area of the house. The 21-year-old man had left the house but decided to go back in to the property to look for a flatmate.

"Tragically the flatmate had already left the property and was standing nearby outside."

The student was found by firefighters only three metres inside the house.

"All learning and tertiary institutions should tell their fee paying students that being fire safe includes being safe at home."


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