Outside of a controlled fire within a household fireplace or garden incinerator, most people will never experience the intensity and heat of a large fire. The New Zealand Fire Service has developed an online interactive ‘virtual reality experience’, which you may have seen advertised on television. This can be viewed at escapemyhouse.co.nz.
This shows the inside of a lounge where a fire starts. It is small at first but increases rapidly in size and intensity. In as little as two and a half minutes the fire has fully engulfed the room, with temperatures at ceiling level reaching more than 800 degrees. The speed of the fire is frightening and drives home to viewers how quickly a fire spreads and how dangerous it is. Fire can spread so rapidly that just popping out of a room to make a cup of tea could end up with you returning to a room fully ablaze. Further to this, toxic fumes are likely to spread throughout the house. A person can be easily overcome by fumes. In many cases, the fumes kill a person long before the flames reach them.
I strongly recommend that all readers visit the website and view the video. It makes sobering viewing, and you will see why I have banged on about the importance of smoke alarms in the past. It is well worth showing your kids too. It should shake up all our attitudes to fire. Further to this, there is a link to develop an escape plan for the occupants of any property. This contains good and simple tips, such as having two exit options per room, leaving exits uncluttered, a key in deadlocks and, of course, smoke alarms in rooms. Once out, have a safe pre-arranged meeting point, such as the house letterbox. This enables you to quickly ascertain if all people are out and you can greet and direct arriving fire crews. Meanwhile, remember the catch line: “Get out. Stay out”.
Congratulations to the Puhoi Brigade who have recently opened their new fire station. I understand that over eight years of fundraising and toil have gone into the project. It shows what hard work, dedication and perseverance can achieve. I am sure that many, many hours have gone into it. This station will be a valuable asset to the brigade and the Puhoi community in general.