Neighbour likely lifesaver

19:48, Oct 23 2012
Dallas Brown
ON TO IT: Dallas Brown heard the neighbours’ smoke alarm and rang the fire brigade. A woman inside the house was taken to hospital.

A Marchwiel woman might owe her life to a smoke alarm and an observant neighbour, firefighters say.

The woman had apparently been cooking on Monday night, left a pot on the stove and fell asleep, station officer Matt Thorstensen said.

When her smoke alarm sounded, it didn't wake her, he said, possibly because she had already breathed in some smoke.

But it did alert her neighbour, Dallas Brown, who had just put her young children to bed.

"I thought, what is that annoying noise?" Ms Brown said. When she looked out her window, she saw smoke through a gap in her neighbour's curtain.

"I went over and banged on the door and tried to get in, but it was locked," she said. "And I rang 111."


Washdyke firefighters responded to the Lindsay St address at 9.40pm and found the home filled with smoke, Mr Thorstensen said.

They broke down the door to reach the woman, who seemed disoriented and was suffering from smoke inhalation.

"She's a very lucky individual."

The woman was given oxygen at the scene and taken to Timaru Hospital by St John.

She remained in Timaru Hospital in stable condition as of yesterday.

The incident was a perfect example of the importance of installing and maintaining smoke detectors, Mr Thorstensen said.

"If the neighbour hadn't heard the alarm and come over, we might be talking about a situation that was much, much worse," he said.

The New Zealand Fire Service recommends installing long-life photoelectric smoke alarms on the ceiling of every bedroom, living area and hallway in a residence, or at minimum, in the hallway closest to the bedrooms.

The Timaru Herald