Firefighters quickly extinguished the wheat bag fire, containing it to the microwave of an Aspendale Gardens home. Photo: Edithvale Fire Brigade
A recent wheat bag fire in Melbourne’s outer suburbs has prompted CFA firefighters to remind Victorians of the potential fire risks involved with heating and using therapeutic wheat packs.
Last week, firefighters from Edithvale Fire Brigade responded to a wheat bag fire in Aspendale Gardens.
Upon arriving on scene, breathing apparatus crews entered the smoke-filled house and located the wheat bag inside the microwave.
The wheat bag was quickly extinguished, and the fire was safely contained to within the microwave. Crews used positive pressure ventilation to clear the smoke from the two-storey home.
Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said it was a timely reminder during these cooler months for people to take care when using wheat bags.
“Wheat bags are a popular choice for keeping people warm, but they have been linked to some fires and burns,” he said.
“Constant use can result in the reduction of the moisture content of the wheat, causing it to overheat and result in a fire or burns.
“We urge people to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and not to overheat them.”
The warning follows multiple interstate housefire fatalities caused by wheat bags in recent years.
Prompt action by the Aspendale Gardens homeowner to self-evacuate and call Triple Zero (000) allowed firefighters to prevent the fire from extending to the rest of the house, but Captain Graham Fountain said, “it could have been a lot worse”.
“A lesson learned from this incident was that the wheat bag was more than a year old and was being heated for a long duration,” Cpt Fountain said.
“The smoke also did not reach the nearest smoke alarm in the home, so we encouraged the homeowner to improve their smoke alarm placement by installing them in recommended locations.”
CFA recommends interconnected smoke alarms are installed in all bedrooms, hallways and living areas of your home.
Victorians can purchase interconnected smoke alarms at most local hardware stores. Some are connected wirelessly, which don’t require hardwiring by an electrician.
For more information about smoke alarms, visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au/silenceisdeadly.
Wheat bags safety tips:
- Only buy wheat bags that come with clear heating instructions.
- Always carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions for use. Never overheat wheat bags.
- Don’t use wheat bags in confined spaces that can trap heat, such as under blankets or on bedding.
- Leave wheat bags to cool in a safe area and on a non-combustible surface (such as a kitchen sink) and don't reheat the bag until it has completely cooled, which may take around two hours.
- As soon as your wheat bag starts to smell burned or charred, or if you notice this smell when heating it, let it cool down in the kitchen sink and then dispose of it.
- Check the life of the wheat bag according to manufacturer’s instructions.
||CFA News & Media