Fire safety

Fire and Emergency NZ attends thousands of callouts each year and about a quarter of them are to house fires.

We should do all we can to avoid becoming a statistic.

All ŌCHT homes have smoke detectors and we are installing even more to exceed the official standard.

But that is only part of what  makes us all fire wise – you have a big part to play in keeping fire safe.

Smoke detectors

Please make sure you regularly test your detectors – at least twice a year – by pressing the test button.

The alarm will sound if it is working. If it doesn’t, call us on 0800 624 456.

Our handy people put the detectors where they will work best. Please don’t move them.

They are reliable so long as you look after them. If you think a smoke alarm may be faulty, let us know straight away.

Test them once a month and when you get home after being away. To test, press the test/reset button for about two seconds. The alarm will sound. When you take your finger off the button it will have reset and the light will blink continuously.

Clean smoke alarms every 6 months by gently dusting with a vacuum cleaner brush.

Call us on 0800 624 456 if:

  • the red light stops blinking
  • there is no alarm when you press the test/reset button
  • the smoke alarm continuously makes an unusual noise or chirps
  • there’s anything that makes you think your alarm isn’t working as it should

If you set off the smoke alarm by accident – say with burnt toast – open the windows to air out the house. Waving a tea towel under the sensor often does the trick!

Being safe inside

In the kitchen

  • Don’t leave stove top cooking unattended.
  • Keep the stove top clean and free of spilled fats or burned foods.
  • Clean the rangehood filters.
  • Have a fire extinguisher near the kitchen and know how to use it.
  • Keep anything flammable – curtains, tea towels, and oven mitts – away from your stove top.
  • Wear tight fitting sleeves or roll them up when you are cooking.

If a fire starts in the kitchen

Fire and Emergency New Zealand says:

  • If your frying pan is on fire, place the lid of the frypan, a wet tea towel, or another large flat object (like a chopping board) over the pan to starve the fire of oxygen.
  • Never throw water onto a frypan that’s on fire.
  • Never, ever attempt to carry a burning frypan outside.
  • If you have a fire in your oven, try to turn off the power or gas, either at the stove or at the mains.

Preventing scalds in the kitchen

Another big danger in the kitchen is scalds — burns caused by boiling water. Fire and Emergency New Zealand has these tips for preventing scalds:

  • Keep kids out of the kitchen or cooking areas when you’re cooking or preparing meals.
  • Keep kettles, jugs and teapots away from the edge of benches and tables.
  • Turn saucepan handles so they’re not sticking out over the floor. Use the elements or hot plates at the back of the stove if possible.
  • Make sure all upright stoves are securely fastened to the wall and keep oven doors closed, except when grilling as per manufacturers instructions.
  • For advice on treating scalds and burns, visit the St John website.


In your living room and bedrooms

  • Matches, lighters or other fire-starting tools should be stored out of reach of children.
  • Lights should be fitted with the correct bulb size and rating (in watts).
  • Electric blankets should be in good condition and not more than 5 years old.
  • Have a torch near every bed, in case of emergencies.

In your laundry

  • Make sure there is no lint built up in the clothes dryer filter. Check this after every use.


  • Don’t leave candles unattended.
  • Make sure candles are used on a surface that won’t catch on fire, such as a a ceramic plate or a special holder.
  • Don’t let children use, light or play with candles.

Power points and multi boards

  • Make sure you don’t have too many appliances plugged into power points or multi boards.
  • It’s a good idea to switch off appliances at the wall rather than leave them on standby. This is safer and will cut your power bill.


ŌCHT properties are smoke free and ŌCHT has a smoke free policy.
Smoking in bed is a leading cause of house fires.
We offer advice and support to quit through our connections with health providers.


  • BBQ fittings should be tight and secure. There should be at least 1 metre of clear space around the BBQ.
  • Flammable liquids in sheds or garages should be stored in appropriate containers.
  • Keep furniture, clothes and curtains at least a metre from heaters and the fireplace.

You can read more from the professionals

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) has heaps of advice on its website: Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ)

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Further reading

The Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust
61 Kilmore St,

Hours: 8.30 am-5.00 pm, Monday-Friday.

Postal: PO Box 53, Christchurch 8140

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