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Fireys warn: giving air con units the cold shoulder can spark a blaze

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24 Jan 2019
With temperatures in Melbourne set to soar in the city tomorrow, MFB firefighters are calling on the community to pay their air conditioners and cooling systems some attention.

MFB has observed a spike in fires caused by cooling systems recently, with 16 separate incidents occurring in December last year.

Over the past three years, firefighters responded to 218 fires involving air conditioners, fans and evaporative coolers – roughly 42 fires each summer on average.

More than half of these fires occurred at residential properties, with high density local government areas like Melbourne tallying 15 separate incidents a year over the past three years. 

Blazes sparked at commercial sites and businesses came in a close second.

On Christmas Eve, a home in Malvern East was substantially damaged after a fire which started in an evaporative cooling unit quickly spread into the roof space.

Crews worked swiftly to bring the fire under control, although the fire, smoke and water damage to the property meant the residents were left without anywhere to stay on Christmas Eve.

In another incident last month, two children and a father escaped without injury after an air conditioning unit caught fire and took hold of their Armadale home.

Fire investigators later determined that an electrical fault caused the evaporative cooling unit to spark, causing substantial damage to most of the roof and a bedroom.

MFB’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Trent Curtin said that poor maintenance, damaged or faulty wiring and connections and clutter were among the top causes of air conditioning fires.

“Many people install or move to a new place with a cooling system or air conditioner and simply set and forget the appliance.

“Poor maintenance and a build-up of dust or clutter on an air conditioner or evaporative cooling unit can make for perfect fire conditions.

“A fire in your air conditioning or evaporative cooling system unit is not a cool way to meet a firefighter this summer.

“It’s important to stay both cool and safe when it’s hot.”

Air conditioning safety tips:


  • Regularly service and maintain your air conditioner to ensure it’s in good working order
  • Only use certified tradespeople to repair damaged or faulty appliances
  • Always follow manufacturer’s instructions
  • Keep your air conditioners and coolers clear of clutter
  • Turn electrical appliances off at the power point when not in use


For more home fire safety tips, visit


The Local Government areas where air conditioner and evaporative cooling unit fires have occurred 2016-2018:

1.    Melbourne (45 incidents)

2.    Boroondara (16 incidents)

3.    Brimbank (15 incidents)

4.    Monash (14 incidents)

5.    Moreland (14 incidents)

6.    Port Philip (12 incidents)

7.    Glen Eira (11 incidents)

8.    Darebin (10 incidents)

9.    Hume (10 incidents)

10.  Stonnington (9 incidents)

11.  Whitehorse (9 incidents)

12.  Yarra (9 incidents)

13.  Banyule (7 incidents)

14.  Bayside (5 incidents)

15.  Maribyrnong (5 incidents)

16.  Moonee Valley (5 incidents)

17.  Whittlesea (5 incidents)

18.  Hobsons Bay (4 incidents)

19.  Manningham (4 incidents)

20.  Maroondah (3 incidents)

21.  Wyndham (3 incidents)

22.  Kingston (2 incidents)

23.  Yarra Ranges (1 incident)

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