Councillor raises fire safety questions and compliance procedures at council meeting

There is no up-to-date listing or modelling of which, and how, public-access buildings in the Shire are compliant with fire safety standards.

Councillor Ron Cummins is asking the Upper Lachlan Shire Council to explain the missing roll call of fire safety compliant buildings.

"Who wants to end up in front of a coronial inquiry because some person has suffered because of council's lack of action," Cr Cummins said. 

A council spokesperson said a report on fire safety compliance would be included in the Thursday October 18 meeting business papers.

Following on from queries raised by Cr Cummins and the Crookwell Gazette, the council will begin an education campaign to remind building owners of their responsibilities. 

The buildings, which include businesses and accommodation, could be forced into fire safety upgrades or be issued orders to cease operations.

Upper Lachlan Shire Council general manager John Bell did not indicate the report's cost, potential findings or impact, if any, to local businesses.

Who wants to end up in front of a coronial inquiry because some person has suffered because of council's lack of action.

Councillor Ron Cummins

Several local business owners canvassed by the Crookwell Gazette believe they may be non-compliant, based on a lack of recent inspections/certification.

The chain of responsibility for fire safety regulations begins with the state department of Planning and Environment. 

The consent authority for fire safety is the local council, said Mark Nolan from the Office of Local Government. 

Local councils are able to issue a fire safety upgrade order if a building is deemed unsafe, and give notice to a building owner. 

Breaches requiring upgrade orders may include smoke alarm systems, fire doors, signs, and maintenance of equipment.

An operations manager in building maintenance services, Killian Jordan, says a basic fire safety system for a 40-metres-square office costs about $4000. 

In 2010, tighter state legislation was enacted nationally after the fatal Childers backpacker hostel fire in Queensland, where 15 people died.

"The only thing that will make [the council] sit up and take notice is a fire incident in a heavily occupied building," said Cr Cummins.

  • Since this story was filed council have responded with a publication and will be writing to all known commercial building owners in the Shire to remind them of their fire safety responsibilities.