Fire safety cautions for seniors

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Seniors have been identified as one of the groups most at risk from death and serious injury from fire. In an attempt to combat this, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) delivers free presentations, arming them with the knowledge to keep fire safe. These programs, presented by the Community Resilience Department of the MFB, have been running for over 20 years. Official figures between the years 2000 and 2010 showed that 50 per cent of all fatalities caused by fire in the metropolitan district of Melbourne were people aged 65 and over. The Seniors Fire Safety Program, since its inception in 1993, has won not only state and international awards but also the public’s confidence. During the last financial year more than 110 presentations took place. The main objective of the program is to promote community safety and give the elderly basic tips on how to keep themselves safe from fire. Special emphasis is given on prevention, in order to reduce the incidence and impact of home fire. All kinds of senior community groups are welcome to join the presentations, which are delivered by volunteers. As the coordinator of the Seniors Fire Safety Program, Marthèse Kavanagh, explains to Neos Kosmos, the group of volunteers consists of retired MFB firefighters. The assistance of these retired fire officers is invaluable, given that not only do they have a lot of experience in the area, but also an understanding for the seniors’ needs and lifestyle, being retired themselves. Any seniors group, from church and multicultural groups to community support and health groups or just senior citizens’ clubs, regardless of how small or large they are, can attend a fire safety session, free of charge, at a site chosen by them. Whether it is a venue where a community group meets or just someone’s residence, the presenters will go wherever they are needed. “If you are a seniors group of any kind, we are available to talk with you. “All people need to do is give us a ring or email us and we’ll do the rest,” says Ms Kavanagh. The presentation takes no longer than 45 minutes and is a flexible, informal session, more like a “community group discussion”, where people can ask questions at any time. Whenever a multicultural group needs language assistance, professional interpreters are recruited, with no cost involved on behalf of the public. Furthermore, printed materials on home fire safety for seniors to take home are available in 21 languages. Ms Kavanagh also points out some of the main reasons that put seniors at risk: mobility problems due to old age or because of the medication they are on, home appliances in need of maintenance or just the fact that many older people tend to live alone. The steps we need to take to help keep ourselves safe from fire are very simple, yet important. This very simple information is exactly what the presenters of the Seniors Fire Safety Program talk about, such as checking that the fire alarms are working, making sure that there is an easy way out of the house or replacing old electric appliances with new safe ones. The volunteer presenters of the program are all kept up-to-date with the most recent innovations in fire safety and community safety, given that the Metropolitan Fire Brigade organises professional development meetings with them four times a year. At the moment, the volunteer group consists of six retired fire officers and according to Ms Kavanagh they are trying to recruit more. It is a small yet dedicated group of people, equipped with all the necessary knowledge and, most importantly, committed to share this knowledge with the seniors community. “The presenters share all their years of experience as fire fighters, as well as their knowledge of what it’s like to be an older person living in the community. “Fire fighters are really committed to their community, so these are people who served a lifetime with the fire brigade and they still want to help the community; they are quite motivated,” says Ms Kavanagh.For further information or for booking a presentation please contact the Community Resilience Department on (03) 9665 4464 or [email protected]last_img

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