“IF this prevents one death or saves one family home in our community, it will have already been worth it.”
That’s how Bondi Fire Station senior firefighter Eddie Vaysbakh describes Fire and Rescue NSW’s (FRNSW) inaugural Burn Wise safety information booklet designed specifically for the needs of the Jewish community, which he launched last week.
Vaysbakh, who is Jewish, came up with the idea for it 10 years ago when he identified the Jewish community as a high risk group for burn injuries around the home.
With the support of FRNSW community engagement manager Michael Jay and his team, funding was secured for an initial print run of 1000 hard copies for distribution at Bondi Fire Station, Jewish schools and community centres, synagogues, the Sydney Jewish Museum and Wolper Jewish Hospital.
The 16-page booklet contains facts about types and degrees of burns caused by heat, flame, chemicals, radiation or electricity, how to prevent them, and emergency safety procedures.
Practical tips include precautions to take when lighting Shabbat candles, burning chametz or using electrical devices in a succah, checking smoke alarms ahead of chagim, and setting a one-metre safety zone around the stove when cooking in a full house for a Shabbat or major festival dinner.
The resource has photos of Jewish families lighting a menorah, and a front cover photo of Vaysbakh showing Jewish children a fire engine next to Central Synagogue.
Vaysbakh said the release of the booklet is timely, given winter is a peak season for household burns, and COVID-19 restrictions mean people are spending more time at home. “Fire can spread inside a home in seconds anywhere in our community, with tragic consequences.
“Eight months ago there was a fatal house fire just two doors from my place. So people need to remain vigilant, educate themselves and their children, and make sure they have a fire escape plan.”
The booklet is available to download at www.fire.nsw.gov.au/burnwise.