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New alarm law for vans

Thursday, 3rd March, 2011

SOUND SLEEP: Local fireman Damian Neilly checks a smoke alarm in Pat McQueen’s caravan. SOUND SLEEP: Local fireman Damian Neilly checks a smoke alarm in Pat McQueen’s caravan.

Owners of caravans, campervans, holiday vans and other structures where people sleep must now be fitted with a smoke alarm as a result of changes to the law.

Changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation, which took place on February 25, apply to all new and existing portable dwellings.

Smoke alarms must comply with Australian Standards and be installed according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Caravan owner and tourist, Pat McQueen, said when she and her husband bought their caravan four years ago it was fitted with a smoke alarm and a fire extinguisher.

"Well, we haven't had to use it yet," Mrs McQueen told the BDT.

But she said that having a working smoke alarm made them feel safer.

The local fire brigade chief said having the alarms in caravans made a lot of sense.

"There are limited escape options from fires in caravans," fire station commander Scott Parker said.

"So the warning a smoke alarm gives can mean the difference between life and death," he said.

"You have just a few seconds to get out of a burning caravan because they are made of lightweight and highly combustible fittings.

"Fires can take off frighteningly fast."

Mr Parker advised owners that they were responsible for installing and maintaining a smoke alarm, and that even if owners don't move them but regularly sleep in them, they must still have an alarm installed.

"Smoke alarms cost as little as $15 but will save something more precious than money - human life," he said.

People who have a smoke alarms were also advised to test it monthly and change the batteries every year.

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