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Playing with fire

Aun Ngo

Wed Apr 29 2009


THE Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) has called on universities and student accommodation providers to educate international students on fire safety measures.

According to the MFB, firefighters respond to some 15,000 false fire alarms a year, a majority of which are triggered by international students.

The brigade’s community education officer John Hale said firefighters attend to at least one incident caused by an international student each week.

Faulty smoke detectors, a lack of know-how in handling false alarm situations, and a fear of being fined for a fire-engine call-out were among the major causes, he said.

“Many students tamper with smoke detectors because they’re afraid of paying the fines in case there’s a false alarm in their unit,” Mr Hale said.

“They don’t realize that sometimes that’s what sets off the alarm.”

He said false alarms were a drain on the service’s resources, delaying firefighters’ response times in real emergencies.

Up to six fire trucks can be sent out in response to a call.

Mr Hale said the common occurence of false alarms also desensitised people from heeding warning signals, which could threaten lives in the event of a real fire.