Body Corporate stung for fire safety breaches

August 31, 2018

A Brisbane body corporate has been slapped with a hefty fine for a litany of building fire safety offences that exposed residents to serious risks.

The Brisbane Magistrates ordered Carlisle Community Title Scheme 9233 to pay $21,000 plus costs after it pleaded guilty to 21 breaches of the Fire and Emergency Services Act and Building Fire Safety Regulation at its Kangaroo Point complex. 

The ruling is the result of a successful prosecution by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), which took legal action after its inspectors uncovered the failures.

Magistrate Anthony Gett criticised Carlisle for not acting quickly enough to rectify breaches relating to evacuation doors, providing evidence of compliance and ensuring required fire safety installations were maintained.

Mr Gett said the ever-present risk of fire required timely remedial action and that inattention or ignorance was not a mitigating factor.

He said the notices QFES issued should have been the trigger for Carlisle to act more swiftly.

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said inspectors made repeated attempts between August 2017 and January this year to have Carlisle rectify the breaches at the 35-apartment complex.

“QFES gave Carlisle multiple opportunities to resolve these breaches, which posed a danger to the safety of those living in the apartments,” Ms Carroll said.

“The body corporate’s decision not to remove a lock from a door on a designated evacuation route on the ninth floor would have prevented a safe and timely escape in an event of a fire.

“Furthermore, insufficient maintenance meant there was a risk a fire could have travelled up the garbage chute and spread to other levels of the building.”

The fine comes on the back of a $30,000 penalty issued to a Townsville body corporate, Metro Community Title Scheme, late last year for similar offences under the Act and Regulation.

“Building fire safety standards are in place to protect people in the event of an incident, so it is essential body corporates take their responsibilities seriously,” Ms Carroll said.

“We will always try and work with parties to resolve breaches, but there comes a point where enough is enough – particularly if an offender fails to cooperate.

“QFES has no hesitation prosecuting businesses if that is what it takes to stop them failing to meet their responsibilities.”

This release was issued by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service.