CABRAMATTA firefighters are urging residents to invest in what could save their lives.
Smoke alarms became compulsory in NSW homes in 2006 but Cabramatta station commander Dale Wade-Ferrell said there had been no alarms in a recent spate of house and building fires.
"We've responded to about 15 house and unit fires and six major building fires in the local area over the past eight weeks," he said. "My main concern is some house fires we've gone to have had no working smoke alarms.
"An overwhelming number were rental properties.
"Real-estate rental managers and landlords should be aware of their legal obligation to ensure working smoke alarms are fitted."
Mr Wade-Ferrell said alarms should be installed in any residential houses, flats or units and all existing buildings where people sleep.
"If you're asleep the smoke, which is full of toxic gases, may numb your senses and put you into a deeper sleep.
"The high-pitched sound of smoke alarms is designed to wake you and other family members before the smoke causes potentially fatal damage to your lungs. They save lives as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage."
HOW TO MAINTAIN A WORKING SMOKE ALARM
■Test smoke alarms monthly by pressing the test button;
■Vacuum alarms each six months to keep them clean;
■Change the batteries annually;
■Smoke alarms are most effective when fixed to the ceiling;
■Don't put a smoke alarm in a bathroom;
■Replace the alarm each 10 years; and
■Only use smoke alarms with the Australian Standard symbol.