FOR Hervey Bay fire fighter Tim Loague, winter is a dreaded time, as he is more likely to face house fires and the devastation that follows than any other time of the year.  

Not everyone can be a fire fighter, or volunteer for the Rural Fire Brigade, but Acting Station Officer Loague said people on the Fraser Coast can make his job a lot easier by keeping their homes as safe from fires as possible.  

To help home-owners in the region secure their houses, Fraser Coast fire fighters are heading to homes in the community, conducting free safety checks and talking people through the dos and don'ts of preventing house fires.  

The visits are part of Operation Safehome and includes checking fire alarm and safe fire habits, as well as making sure families have escape plans in place and know where their electrical safety switches are.  

STAY ALERT: Acting Station Officer Tim Loague checks a smoke alarm as part of a Safehome visit.
STAY ALERT: Acting Station Officer Tim Loague checks a smoke alarm as part of a Safehome visit. Eliza Wheeler

Officer Loague said having the right plans and tools in place could safe homes and most importantly lives.  

"People can be so surprised how quickly a house fire can start," Mr Loague said.  

"It's one thing to feel prepared and safe when every thing's fine, but when it's 2am and there is smoke everywhere and you don't know the whereabouts of everyone in the family, you need to have a plan."  

The fire fighter said having working smoke alarms, a number of escape routes and knowing where the power box was could reserve life-saving minutes for fire fighters in an emergency.  

"The first things we ask when we go to a house fire are 'is everyone out? Where were they last seen and where is the power box?'" he said.  

"The absolute number one priority is saving human lives, so once we know where everyone is or is not, that affects the plan of where to go from there."  

With human lives being the most important aspect of an escape from a house fire, Officer Loague said pets should be left behind.  

"The most important thing is to get all of the people out," he said.  

"That's the sad reality."  

He said the Safehome checks were available to avoid families becoming stuck in such tragic situations.  

Officer Loague has conducted less than 10 so far this year.  

While the Safehome checks are available all year, Officer Loague said winter was the most important time of year to have a home's fire safety measures up to scratch.  

"Most people here are fairly good (with home fire safety)," he said.  

"But of course, especially now when the risk is higher, it's always good to recap and check up on how safe you really are."  

To book in a free Safehome visit, call 13 74 68.