Fire safety messages paid off in house fire

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The benefit of installing smoke alarms came into sharp focus for Gore resident Bridget Gibson when she reacted quickly to the sound of one activating in her home recently.
Gore Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Steve Lee said Mrs Gibson, who lived alone, was asleep and was alerted to a fire in her home by an alarm sounding at midnight on August 21.
Faulty wiring leading into a nightstore heater had resulted in a fire in the lounge of the Devon St property, Mr Lee said.
Mrs Gibson, who has a physical disability, left the house as soon as the alarm was activated.
‘‘The house was filled with smoke at the time,’’ Mr Lee said.
Mrs Gibson shut the doors of the house as she left and phoned the fire brigade.
Mrs Gibson said messages in New Zealand Fire Service advertising campaigns, such as those on television, came to her aid as she reacted to the fire.
As well as shutting doors, she had turned off the power supply as she left the house.
‘‘That often puts the fire out,’’ Mrs Gibson said.
Her actions resulted in harm to the property being limited to mostly smoke damage.
A fire wall and wool carpet also helped minimise fire damage, she said.
Mrs Gibson paid tribute to the firefighters who attended the incident, saying they were marvellous.
She had received support from the community as well.
She enjoyed living in Gore as it was a friendly town, where people were willing to help others, she said.
Unfortunately, she had injured her back while exiting her home. She was unsure how she hurt it, but had spent some time in hospital as a result.
The house was being redecorated and carpets were being replaced so she could move back in.
Mr Lee said damage to the house had been minimal because Mrs Gibson had followed the correct procedure.
He emphasised the importance of having working smoke alarms to protect inhabitants and minimise damage to a property.
The Fire Service recommends fitting smoke alarms in bedrooms and hallways leading to bedrooms.
In 80% of all house fires in New Zealand no smoke alarms had been fitted in the homes, Mr Lee said.
Mrs Gibson’s brother-in-law, George McEwan, of Wyndham, installed the smoke alarms in her house and her daughter, Amber Gibson, of Dunedin, checked the batteries on regular basis.