The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) joined forces with the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB), Country Fire Authority (CFA) and the Victorian Government this morning to remind families to remain vigilant about fire safety in the home.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services the Hon Peter Ryan MLA launched the MFB/CFA Winter Fire Safety Campaign at the RCH and was joined by young fire victim Famke Biesheuvel.
Famke was just two years old when she sustained burns to the back of her legs after standing close to a faulty gas heater in her family home. Her mother Gretha said the incident still haunts her family. The home was a rental property and the family was to move house the day following the incident.
Gretha said in hindsight her family should have contacted the landlord to request the heater be repaired as soon as they were aware it was faulty. She hopes the incident will serve as a reminder to other families to review all fire hazards in the home.
As the Paediatric Major Trauma Service for Victoria, the RCH sees the most serious burn injuries in the state. The hospital experiences a peak in burn injuries during winter, and another in summer.
Director of the RCH Burns Unit, Dr Russell Taylor, said any burn requiring hospitalisation resulted in months or years of recovery and most left lasting physical reminders.
“Recovery from a burn like the one sustained by Famke takes many years. Already she has received two skin grafts and is likely to receive a further two before she turns 18,” he said.
Mr Ryan encouraged Victorians to remember they have an individual resposibility to be vigilant to help minimise the risk of fire. He said unattended cooking remained the main cause of domestic fires throughout the year with more than one-third of residential fires started in the kitchen.
“The number of fires in bedrooms, caused by heating equipment, also increases dramatically during the winter months, while blocked chimneys can also be a hazard,” Mr Ryan said.
The MFB and CFA are asking all Victorians to start their own winter safety campaign by being vigilant, planning ahead and:
- checking smoke alarms in your house work
- plan how you would get out of the house if there was a fire
- be aware of fire risks in the home.
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