PREPARATION is key to survival, that is the message from Stoneville volunteer firefighter Keith Ford, days after a small fire extinguisher saved his home from going up in flames.
The former United States Navy Petty Officer said several factors contributed to saving his home and family when an electric blanket ignited in the early hours of Saturday, September 29 – a fire extinguisher, smoke alarms that worked, phones that could call the fire brigade, an evacuation plan and the ability to remain calm in a time of crisis.
“The first thing I did was dial 000 and gave the phone to my son and said speak to them and I went to see if I could get a hose,” he said.
“The hose wasn’t going to reach, but fortunately my son had a fire extinguisher in his car.
“It couldn’t completely extinguish it, it was not big enough but I knocked it down mostly then closed the door to the room to lock out the oxygen and smother it.”
Mr Ford, who still carries the memory and trauma of fighting the 2014 Parkerville fires that razed 57 homes, said the first mistake people make was not being prepared in the event of fire.
“The second mistake is that they probably panic,” he said.
“They try to put it out without the appropriate equipment to do it.”
Coming up to the 2018/19 bushfire season the Stoneville Bush Fire Brigade volunteer said residents needed to maintain fire breaks and if they decided to stay and fight a fire, ensure they had the proper clothing and equipment, including their own water tanks as scheme water and electric pumps were not reliable in fires.
“If you think you can fight the fire, and have the equipment to do it then stay, otherwise take your important stuff and go,” he said.
“With good insurance, and a great deal of inconvenience, you can get your stuff back but lives are once only.”
An Ellenbrook family were also forced to leave their home because of fire last week.
Echo News understands the fire started in the garage shortly before 1pm at the Killara Ave property.
By Claire Ottaviano