With the first day of winter comes a heightened risk of house fires. We look at a kitchen fire in action, plus we share our top tips to prevent house fires.

You need to keep an eye on the heat if you don’t want to burn down the kitchen. Image: State Farm via Flickr

Have you ever watched a fire take hold? We’re not talking about small camp fires. We’re talking serious infernos, the kind that reach 900 degrees Celsius and melt your kitchen table into a puddle in just a few minutes. It’s confronting stuff and it makes you realise just how quickly a frying pan can become a catastrophe.

Today is the first day of winter, the season when the risk of house fires peak. In New South Wales alone, between the months of June and September, firefighters respond to about 1,230 house fires, leaving 576 people injured. Almost half of these fires start in the kitchen and it can take just three minutes for the fire to take hold.

Last week, Fire & Rescue NSW firefighters set ablaze a makeshift kitchen at our fire science labs in Sydney. You can see the scenario play out – someone cooking a meal answers the phone. In just a few minutes the pot on the stove bursts into flames, which quickly engulfs the whole kitchen.

Note: you may find this video confronting.

While we blast the heaters, fire-up the electric blankets and just generally try to stay warm and snuggly this winter, here are 7 simple things you should be doing to prevent a fire at home:

  • Remember Fire & Rescue NSW’s key message this winter – keep looking when cooking.
  • Turn off heaters and electric blankets before leaving home or getting into bed
  • Keep everything one metre from your heater
  • Clean lint filters in the clothes dryer before or after each use
  • Don’t overload power points and power boards
  • Keep candles well away from curtains and put them out before leaving the room
  • Never smoke in bed

Did you know we operate a comprehensive fire research, consulting and testing facility, providing services to government and industry? Find out more about our fire-testing services.


  1. hi i’m student of 11 senior high school semarang, Indonesian (3/30). i’m an ametur for save environment. what natural materials are safety and easily recycle to prevent burning the room?

  2. 3/27
    Hi Adam,
    How do we strive to prevent fire during the winter? Why do fires at home, especially in the kitchen, reoccur during the winter months? Does the government not broadcast news of fires in the media so that others can avoid that?
    I am an Indonesian, there is no winter here, so we never feel that, I want to know how winter activities are there and how to warm the body without having to use fire.
    Thank you for the information you have written. Stay safe.

  3. hi adam, how do firefighters operate officers to respond to about 1,230 house fires during the winter are all responded well ?, what is the first thing to do to save those who have caught fire?

  4. Hi adam,
    How to extinguish the fire without having to call the fire department?
    Because in winter there are many fires and firefighters are busy to deal with other fires (3/05)

  5. What work is being done on fire resistant building materials internal and external? I have seen bushfire resistant homes, partially built into the gound , or undrr a mound of soil like parliament house. My question though is wider than that.

    1. Hi Robert,
      Our bushfire research ranges from improving our understanding of fires and how they spread to developing new tools for and strategies to save lives and limit the damage of bushfires. We conduct research into materials and construction techniques for bushfire resistance. Some recent examples of our work can be found on our website here: http://www.csiro.au/en/Research/LWF/Areas/Landscape-management/Bushfire

      We also have testing and consulting services for the construction and infrastructure industry to ensure that materials meet the relevant standards and building codes. We work with these Australian and International manufacturers to develop products improving fire resistance and innovating with new systems. This work is in areas such as facades, rail and road tunnels and building fire safety. http://www.csiro.au/en/Do-business/Services/Testing-and-technical-services/Materials-infrastructure/Fire-safety

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