WARNING: The Metropolitan Fire Service is asking South Australians to be careful in garages and sheds. Photo: File

 WARNING: The Metropolitan Fire Service is asking South Australians to be careful in garages and sheds. Photo: File

South Australians are being asked to be careful in sheds and garages to reduce the risk of fire damage.

Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) and Country Fire Service firefighters have battled 370 shed and garage fires across the state over the past three years, with a collective damage bill of $19 million.

A recent blaze in Adelaide has prompted a warning, as a $300,000 fire is believed to have been caused when a spark ignited from petrol vapours while the owner was working on a boat in the garage.

The MFS said that while the owner did the right things by ensuring the garage was well ventilated, the petrol vapours ignited with the fire engulfing the boat within a minute – however there were no serious injuries and the family of five managed to evacuate safely.

MFS community engagement officer Douglas MacDonald-Taylor said sheds and garages often contained a mixture of dangerous items that could lead to fires.

“Sheds and garages are often stocked with LPG cylinders, paint thinners, oils, fuel, butane cans, re-chargeable batteries, pool and cleaning chemicals,” he said.

“Sparks can ignite fuel, paint thinners, cleaning products or solvents or their vapour, leading to a fire.

“Refuel and use fuel only in a well-ventilated area and not near any open flame.”

Mr MacDonald-Taylor said people needed to be careful due to the different items that are found in sheds and garages.

“We’re urging the community to be mindful of what their sheds and garages contain, and to have safe procedures when using power tools, handling chemicals, fuel, oil or gas cylinders,” he said.

“If your shed or garage is used as a sleep-out, we strongly encourage you to install a working smoke alarm.”

The MFS reminds the public of the following key safety tips for sheds and garages:

  • Never tinker with LPG or other gas cylinders. If you are unsure of the age, condition or contents of a cylinder, discontinue using them and replace them with a new cylinder in good condition.
  • Ensure any work you conduct that might cause sparks is well clear of any combustibles.
  • Do not refuel lawn mowers or other tools while the appliance is running or still hot.
  • Use a directional funnel to prevent fuel spills and clean up spills immediately. Do not overfill containers or tanks.
  • Do not smoke while refuelling a lawn mower or other tools.
  • Granular pool chlorine must be stored away from fuels, oils, brake fluid or detergents due to the risk of fire if the containers disintegrate or develop leaks over time.
  • Rags that have been used with petrol, methylated spirits, turpentine, white spirit, acetone, solvent based glues or petroleum based paint thinners should be dried in a well ventilated area (to remove the volatile gases) before disposal.
  • Rags that have been used with drying oils such as linseed oil or oil-based paints may self-heat and spontaneously ignite. Immerse rags in water or spread out in a safe place to dry immediately after use.

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