Fire safety experts from CFA and FRV were on hand at the Melbourne Home Show from 26 to 28 August to speak to renovators and home builders in a bid to encourage the installation of additional smoke alarms as part of construction projects.
Under the banner of Victoria’s Fire Services, a combined group of 20 CFA community educators and FRV community engagement staff proactively and responsively engaged with many of the estimated 30,000 people who were expected at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre over the three-day event.
“I’d say I engaged with one person every five minutes or so,” CFA’s Volunteer Programs Team Leader Ben Cash said. Ben is also a Community Liaison - Bushfire Engagement (CLBE) in District 13 and Captain of Chirnside Park Fire Brigade.
“The range of topics we discussed was broad ranging from smoke alarms in kitchens to bushfire risk at holiday homes, BAL ratings in the country and residential sprinkler systems.
“The knowledge base of our team across both CFA and FRV meant that there was always someone on hand to answer questions. There were times when I passed on enquiries to FRV and vice versa. It was a good team effort.”
Michael Vermeulen who is a CLBE in District 14 and District 12, agreed. “We were a unified front – the Victorian Fire Services – not individual agencies. There was great collaboration and what we achieved is reflective of strong teamwork.”
The focus of the Home Show was to support the messaging and efforts of the Smoke Alarms are a bedroom essential marketing campaign. Campaign research over the past three years shows little to no change in the number of smoke alarms being installed in bedrooms and living areas which has been CFA and FRV’s recommendation since 2019, in line with AFAC guidelines.
Behavioural change theory believes change happens around certain triggers and milestones in a person’s life. One of these trigger points is buying or building a new home. The stand capitalised on this idea ensuring all discussions with experts focused on individual choice that was strongly informed by options – both positive and negative.
According to Michael: “Being able to bring people into our stand and showing them examples of different types of smoke alarms was a great hook for discussions. Budget is a big thing and being able to show people the differing price points and benefits in a simple visual way has been very useful.”