Warning on the dangers of furniture fires

Dunedin firefighters dealt with more couch and furniture fires than usual during February, when tertiary education students typically return to the city.

East Otago fire district fire risk management officer Barry Gibson, of Dunedin, said 31 couch or furniture fires were reported in the city's centre and north area between February 1 and 25.

''Although I don't have an exact number confirmed for comparison, we believe it is up slightly on the last couple of years,'' he said.

Couch and furniture fires formed the majority of incidents Dunedin firefighters were called to in the student area, and February typically proved a busy month.

Mr Gibson said each fire had the potential to cause extensive damage and injury.

''People have been burnt by such fires in the past. It's a permanent injury,'' he said.

Deliberately lit couch and furniture fires also tied up fire appliances and crew, which could delay responses to more serious emergencies, Mr Gibson said.

''Those involved in setting couch or furniture fires should be aware that one day it could be them who needs help with a fire emergency or motor vehicle accident.

''And if there are delays in responding, it can be quite serious and even fatal,'' he said.

rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

Further evidence

.... that antisocial and criminal behaviour in the North Dunedin Campus Area won't be solved voluntarily amongst students and non students.

The patsies and prats in authority should exercise their will for strong policing, and award of stiff penalties via the courts.

It's tempting to invoice the University Council for costs to the emergency services, the hospital ED, the city council, street-cleaning contractors, and university staff and security. It might be token, a publicity stunt, to raise awareness of the indicative total cost of mayhem committed by private individuals with peanuts for brains.

Where there is smoke...

I do recall that - you are right.  However, I also see that year after year after year, as Mr Gibson comments, the students return and this happens.  Just because students weren't arrested doesn't mean they didn't instigate the trouble or light the fires.  For those arrested - was it for starting the fires or just generally acting up?  Trouble attracts trouble. Who owns the furniture? Where is the alcohol coming from? Who's idea is it to drag out the furniture and torch it?  It is the latter people that should be paying the full costs of this idiotic behaviour.

As I said, only a small majority act up.  But when they do it is hell on wheels.  Most students add a rich diversity to Dunedin and are most welcome.

Rites of passage

People who cause damage should be billed, but far better for students to have bonfires than die comatose indoors choking on 40 proof.

Non-students

Girlyswot I seem to recall the most recently reported incident resulted in three or four arrests all non-students.

Protected because they are students

What in the world do these young people think they are doing?  Where is the fun in burning furniture?  It stinks when it burns, the smoke gets everywhere, there is a huge mess to clean up and don't forget the resources being used to fight the stupidity of these juvenile delinquents.  What is the real cost to the taxpayer to have several engines and staff (taxes) come out to fight these fires?  And the police attend so there is another cost (taxes).  Then there is the council clean up (rates costs) because the perpetrators don't clean up after themselves. 

And what punishment do they get? A smack over the hand with a wet bus ticket because of course they aren't criminals, they are students.  I know it is a small minority but they create huge issues.

User pays is here.  Give the students the invoices for all the resources they are burning up.  If the student can't pay give Mum and Dad the bill. Can't find the perpetrator? Then the university should be paying to try to curb this kind of senselessly destructive behaviour.

I would like to know the real cost of this type of ''fun".  We all end up paying for their lack of self control.

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