19 October 2023

Technology at the touch of a button to combat 'scary problem' of homes without smoke alarms

| Jen White
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Ryan Park and Paul Dorin in front of a fire engine at Corrimal station.

Keira MP Ryan Park and Corrimal Station Fire Captain Paul Dorin. Photo: Jen White.

A Corrimal firefighter has developed smartphone technology to help protect elderly and vulnerable people from house fires.

Corrimal Fire Station Captain Paul Dorin was inspired to create the QR code-related technology when he was a stay-at-home carer for his mother, Margaret, who had dementia.

In discussions with other carers he met, he realised many elderly or vulnerable people didn’t consider fire safety either due to complacency or being ill equipped.

Others were short of time or didn’t have family or friends around who could help them.

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The initiative allows people to scan a QR code to access fire safety resources, including booking free home visits to check smoke alarms.

During the home safety visits, local firefighters will identify potential fire hazards, develop solutions to them, and offer fire safety advice specific to the resident’s living situation.

Fire crews will ensure working smoke alarms are present within the homes or, if not, install new or additional smoke alarms at no cost.

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) is rolling out the QR codes through its newly formed network of partners across the aged, disability and home care sectors in the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands.

“The relationship a carer has with their client is unique and personal, and they often become like family even if they’re not related,” Captain Dorin said.

“This program trial taps into that connection with the aim of making fire safety something that is top of mind and achievable for the elderly and vulnerable.”

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“It’s alarming how many people don’t have working smoke alarms, it’s quite scary actually,” he added.

“But we really do hope that this initiative will turn into a great program so we can get to the vulnerable members of the community.”

Member for Keira Ryan Park said the technology would ensure the homes of vulnerable and elderly people were as safe as possible.

“We know that over the next few months, we’re going to face very, very challenging fire seasons and we all have a responsibility to do our own thing in and around our homes,” he said.

“And one of the smartest things we can do is make sure that our home is as fire safe as possible, making sure that our smoke alarms are working, making sure that we have an active fire safety plan to ensure that if we do get in trouble or we are threatened, we can get out quickly.

“Sometimes older people and vulnerable people don’t have an opportunity to undertake that important prevention work.

“This idea is awesome, I’m very impressed by the ingenuity and proud that once again the Illawarra is leading the way in innovation.”

Anyone wishing to book a home safety visit can do so via the FRNSW website.

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