Smoke alarms could have saved the lives of 20 Western Australians during the last four years, according to Emergency Services Minister Bob Wiese.
Launching the Coalition's Emergency Service's policy today, Mr Wiese said smoke alarms would be the focus of a $150,000 community awareness program next year.
The extensive program would detail the life-saving benefits of a smoke alarm to homeowners before they would be required in new homes and homes undergoing major renovations from July 1, 1997.
"Our home should be a place of safety and comfort, but it has the potential to be a death trap if fire precautions are ignored," Mr Wiese said.
"Over the last four years 30 people have lost their lives in household fires and the fire authorities say 20 of these people could have been saved if they had been warned by a smoke alarm.
"The human sense of smell shuts down when a person is asleep, but the sound of a properly fitted smoke alarm can alert a sleeping person, giving them a much greater chance of avoiding injury or death."
Mr Wiese said smoke alarms were particularly important in the homes of asthma sufferers who might have increased vulnerability to smoke and also for the elderly or those with young families or impaired mobility who needed extra time to escape.
In other major policy initiatives, fire protection for local communities throughout WA would be given a significant boost with a $10 million commitment from the Coalition to improve equipment and facilities.
Mr Wiese said the funding would enable local government authorities to upgrade their local volunteer bush fire brigades.
He said the program would provide for new fire fighting appliances, stations and facilities and protective clothing to assist volunteer brigades maintain their high standard of fire protection for their local community.
"Our volunteer fire fighters put their lives at risk to protect homes and property from bush fires, and they deserve the best in equipment and facilities," Mr Wiese said.
"This Government is committed to providing our volunteer fire fighters with what is necessary to do their job efficiently and safely."
Mr Wiese said that over the last three years the Government had allocated nearly $9 million to local government authorities to assist the 720 bush fire brigades throughout the State.
"There are approximately 16,000 bush fire brigade volunteers out there prepared to fight fires and our funding program was the first time ever a State Government had assisted these brigades upgrade their resources," he said.
"The funding helped brigades improve their communications equipment, and to purchase new appliances which is vital for improving the effectiveness and safety of the volunteers' operations."
Mr Wiese said a Coalition Government would continue to provide WA communities with the quality emergency services they deserved and to achieve this goal, other major policy commitments included:
· $1 million to extend training for the State's 25,000 emergency service volunteers which included State Emergency Service, Fire and Rescue and Bush Fire Brigades;
· introduce legislation to recognise and formalise the roles and operations of the volunteers and staff of the State Emergency Service;
· maintain funding for the fire prevention program Community Fireguard;
· continue to evaluate aerial fire fighting techniques; and -
· support and encourage the collocation of emergency service facilities to help create a more integrated approach toemergency management.
Media contact: Mark Thompson on 322 2311