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

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