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Keep your balcony safe from fire

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11 Apr 2017
Poorly maintained barbeques and inappropriately discarded cigarettes have contributed to a spate of recent balcony fires across Melbourne.

So far this year, MFB firefighters have responded to 19 balcony fires, including two last weekend.
On Sunday afternoon crews extinguished a fire at a high-rise apartment in Marmion Place, Docklands. 
It was established that flammable material had been stored around the air conditioning unit on the apartment balcony, potentially causing the fire.
In another incident in Port Melbourne on Saturday, three people were injured when a loose connection to a barbeque gas cylinder sparked a blaze on the first floor balcony, resulting in an estimated damage bill of around $40,000.
Since 2016, incorrectly discarded cigarettes and poorly maintained barbeques and external air conditioning units have been among the most common causes of balcony fires.
Other causes include:
Burning objects being placed on or thrown from a balcony
Combustibles being stored too close to heat sources
Unattended candles
Use of power tools
Children playing with lighters
Community Resilience Director Martin Braid urged residents to be vigilant to avoid further incidents.
“With the rising house prices has come an increasing trend towards apartment living,” Mr Braid said.
“These days, many people have a balcony instead of a backyard and often, people are storing their barbeques and air conditioning units on their balconies.
“When combined with flammable materials, such as furniture and clothes in a confined space, this can lead to an increased risk of fire.
“But there are a number of simple measures you can take to help make your balcony safer.”
Balcony safety tips:
Always store your BBQ gas cylinder outside, upright and away from sources of heat
When using a BBQ, maintain a safe distance of 50cm from exterior walls, flammable materials and electrical ignition sources
Smokers should use heavy, high-sided ashtrays which won’t tip over, fully extinguish cigarette butts and dispose of them appropriately
Regularly de-clutter your balcony by removing flammable items and keeping furniture away from exterior walls
Keep all flammable materials a safe distance of at least one metre away from air conditioning units
Keep a dry powder fire extinguisher handy. Use only in the event of a small fire and if you feel physically and mentally able.
For further information on fire safety, visit www.mfb.vic.gov.au and download a copy of the Home Fire Safety Booklet.

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