Smoke alarm saves disabled pensioner

IT WAS just an ordinary Sunday night for Bingara man Ron Surrage – dinner, television and early to bed.

But in the early hours of the morning, the 69-year-old – who suffers from brain damage and mobility problems after suffering a stroke 26 years ago – was awoken by an ear-splitting alarm.

Alone and confused, Mr Surrage slowly dragged himself down the hallway and opened the door to his spare room.

Smoke darted out at him; suddenly, the pensioner was locked in a life-or-death battle.

Awoken by the noise, a young girl across the road watched on as the fire engulfed the Finch St home.

To her horror, she saw a shadowy figure inside the home and called her father.

In a daring act of heroism, the man ran into the home and dragged Mr Surrage out, almost certainly saving his life.

But a small, battery-operated device is also being hailed as a hero. The smoke alarm, fitted and maintained as part of NSW Fire and Rescue’s SABRE program, alerted Mr Surrage to the looming disaster, sparking the series of events that ensured his survival. 

“Ron heard the smoke alarm and if not for that, he would have been dead, no doubt about it,” Mr Surrage’s sister, Carolyn Taylor, said.

Investigators are still probing what caused the fire but Mrs Taylor believes it may have been an electrical fault from a bar fridge or water cooler.

The 1960s weatherboard home was destroyed in the blaze.

NSW Fire and Rescue duty commander for the region, Inspector Rod Chetwynd, said the incident was a shining example of the value of smoke alarms.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that this smoke alarm, fitted and maintained by the Bingara Fire Station, saved Ron’s life,” Inspector Chetwynd said.

“People need to know all it takes is a small electrical fault or malfunction and the results could be fatal.”

The SABRE program, which stands for Smoke Alarm Battery Replacement for the Elderly, offers a free smoke alarm and battery replacement for older people.

Residents who have limited domestic support and are living on their own or in a privately rented home are eligible for the program.

To inquire, call 1800 151 614.

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