Every year we support hundreds of clients who’ve suffered fires in their homes or farm buildings. Although we can help with replaceable items, there is also emotional stress and the potential loss of irreplaceable treasured possessions.

Fires in buildings are often preventable if the right measures are taken. In Autumn there are some slightly unusual fire risks that are good to be aware of…

Charging your devices – lithium-ion batteries can overheat, catch fire or explode.

We’ve seen clients who have suffered losses to their buildings, contents and vehicles caused by lithium-ion batteries. One of these was a total loss house fire that cost $1 million dollars to replace. The fire was caused by batteries charging in the garage.

Many modern devices are powered by lightweight, high-energy lithium-ion (liion) batteries. These power our phones, laptops, tools, e-bikes, e-scooters, vapes and even cars.

Lithium-ion batteries can catch fire for several reasons:

  • Overcharging or using incorrect chargers.
  • Overheating or exposure to extreme temperatures (hot or cold).
  • Physical damage like drops or punctures.
  • Short-circuits, malfunctions, or manufacturing defects.

When these batteries fail they can emit toxic, flammable and explosive gas that can cause intense, self-sustaining fires that are difficult to extinguish so it's important that you read and follow the prevention advice below.


  • Avoid leaving devices charging unattended or overnight.
  • Disconnect fully charged batteries and devices.
  • Avoid exposing devices to heat, moisture or direct sunlight.
  • Only buy genuine devices and equipment.
  • Only buy devices and equipment from trustworthy manufacturers and retailers.
  • Only use the correct and approved chargers for your device.
  • Never charge devices on flammable surfaces.
  • Never charge your devices in bed, or on flammable material or surfaces.
  • Discard damaged devices showing signs of swelling, leakage or overheating.
  • Installing approved smoke or heat alarms in charging areas will help give an early warning of extreme battery overheating or fire.

Drying your washing – clogged vents, ducts, and filters can cause dryer fires.

We’ve seen clients suffer traumatic damage to their houses and businesses due to overloaded dryers catching fire. One commercial client suffered $3 million dollars damage after the contents of a dryer overheated and burst into flames.

What can you do to prevent a dryer fire happening to you?

  • Clean the lint filter between each load. Lint build-up can result in filters overheating and igniting even after the dryer is turned off.
  • Overloading can cause excessive heat to build up. Allow for at least a quarter of the dryer to be free so items can move around and aerate.
  • Use the correct settings. If you must use the dryer for items soiled with fats and oils, such as tea towels, ensure you wash in hot water first and use the lowest heat setting with a cycle that includes a cooldown period.

Rodents moving inside to the warm – chewed wiring can spark a fire.

Tiny culprits can cause a huge amount of damage in your home or farm building. Chewed wiring can cause a short and result in sparking that can easily start a fire. Any build-up of easily flammable material that can ignite will also increase that risk, so it’s a good time to get pest control underway and check switch boards for things that could easily ignite such as leaves and birds' nests. Don’t forget to also check your farm buildings such as the woolshed, dairy shed and pump sheds where pests can get in more easily to find warmth.