The World Fire Safety Foundation
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MELBOURNE'S chief fire officer has admitted the MFB does not check its own smoke alarms - despite preaching to the community about the importance of routine checks.

The embarrassing admission came to light yesterday when it was revealed an early morning blaze at a suburban fire station was not detected.

Fire broke out at Box Hill fire station just two days before Christmas.

A leading firefighter was asleep when he was woken about 1.40am to a burning taste in his mouth.

Firefighters searched the building and discovered a blaze had started because of a fault in an airconditioner, causing smoke to travel downstairs by a duct.

Checks at the office last week found one smoke detector was faulty.

Chief fire officer Shane Wright said rather than monitor MFB alarms, the brigade contracted a company to check for faults every six months.

"Our policy is that any faulty ones ought to be replaced ... I can't say that's what they've been doing," he said.

Mr Wright said he would start an investigation and review records kept by the company contracted to check MFB smoke detectors.

He said he would also call for a review of all smoke detectors installed at MFB stations.

"Any of our smoke alarms that are over 10 years (old) will be replaced. That's the standard we apply to the community and we will do the same," he said.

"The fire service is just as vulnerable as the community."

United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall said ionisation smoke alarms installed at the station did not detect the fire.

He said the alarms differed from the newer photoelectric ones the MFB advises the public to install.

"It's a case of 'do as I say not as I do' hypocrisy at its best," Mr Marshall said.

"They could have perished in a house fire no different to any other house fire where they had the wrong type of smoke detector or no detector.

"They (ionisation alarms) should have been replaced when the MFB started advocating some years ago to use the newer type.

"It's highly embarrassing and it reeks of double standards. But, more importantly, just because they're firefighters doesn't mean they are exempt from the same safety standards."

Four photoelectric alarms were installed after the fire.

MFB orders probe after early morning blaze at Box Hill not detected

by: Shannon Deery and Amelia Harris From: Herald Sun January 03, 2012 12:00AM

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