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Kerosene Heaters: Fire Risk, 24 June 1953
It wasn't so long ago that kerosene heaters were a common office and household item in Canberra.
Kerosene heaters are still popular as a main heating source in many homes around the world because of their efficiency and relatively low running costs. These features were something that many Canberran's recognised during the Power Zoning in the early 1950s when coal strikes caused electricity supplies to be restricted across New South Wales and the ACT.
To ensure electricity usage was being restricted, a full-time inspector was employed to withdraw electric heaters from Government offices with staff requesting these be replaced with kerosene heaters.
This change introduced several Occupational Health & Safety issues as kerosene heaters require more user knowledge than just flicking the on/off switch on an electric heater. Incorrect operation or the wrong model could turn a kerosene heater into a potential fire hazard. Kerosene heaters also release small amounts of soot into the air.
The following pages from file 'LA 307 - Lands Branch - Leasing Section - Departmental Instructions and Advices, etc' illustrates these safety concerns.
Below is a Fyrside brand kerosene heater (photograph by E. Estbergs):