A Lake Macquarie family wants mandatory smoke alarm testing more often than once a year after they narrowly escaped their burning home before it was gutted by fire.
The family, who asked not to be named, say the smoke alarms in their Wakefield rental property did not sound and they were instead alerted by their beloved dogs - Zeus and Betsy - who tragically died in the blaze earlier this month.
The mother told the Newcastle Herald she and her husband were in bed and alone in the house in the early hours of March 8 when the dogs ran out of the bedroom - she thought there was someone outside.
She went to investigate and found a curtain in the lounge room on fire.
"I thought: 'we're burning, we're burning and no-one knows'," she said. "The house went up that quick."
She and her husband escaped the building - she tried to get the dogs out and smashed a hole in the window of the dining area to offer an escape route - but the pets never made it outside.
She then ran to neighbours for help, but the house was well alight by the time emergency crews arrived and was quickly destroyed.
"They died in the kitchen, in the arms of each other," she said.
"It's not the personal [possessions], it's nearly losing our lives and losing our dogs that is the shattering thing."
The ordeal has left the family looking for a new place to live - they have been staying with relatives.
Ben Lawson, director of PRD Morisset - which manages the Wakefield property - said he was devastated to hear about the fire. He said the agency had been trying to help the tenants find another place to live, but he could not comment on the question of smoke alarms because they were serviced by a third party.
Rural Fire Service is investigating the blaze but the Herald understands that checking whether smoke alarms were working at the time will not be part of the investigation.
According to Fire and Rescue NSW figures, 36 per cent of fatal house fires in 2019 involved smoke alarms that did not work.
It recommends alarms be tested once a month and vacuumed every six months.
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