Shoolies Tips and False Alarms

November 20, 2018

With Schoolies week now officially underway, residents in strata buildings in the many QLD tourist hotspots have seen an influx of teenagers celebrating the end of their high school years. This means an increase in use of your buildings facilities which will unfortunately result in many rules surrounding noise and appropriate use of pools and the like being pushed to the limits and beyond.

The fallout can be short lived for inappropriate and disturbing behaviour related incidents as the schoolies will soon depart almost as quickly as they arrived. Any apparent minor damage costs can also be settled fairly quickly through bond deductions provided they are in place.

False fire alarm costs are far more difficult to deal with though, especially when the bill comes after the culprits have left the building!
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) responds to around 18,000 unwanted alarm activations state-wide per year, and empowered to charge the Body Corporate $1,298 for attending to false alarms.

Schoolies setting off false fire alarms as either a practical joke or through sheer carelessness has been one of the biggest headaches faced for occupants during the celebration period. Residents are subsequently required to evacuate at all hours of the day and night and causes an even bigger nuisance for the attending QFES crews who are on standby for real emergencies.

The Body Corporate can recover the resulting QFES charge from the responsible person when there is evidence of reckless or negligent behaviour causing the false alarm. The process for recovery of the costs is detailed in a prior article published here. The lot owner should also ensure they have a suitable agreement in place to recover the cost from their tenant which is usually taken care of by the appointed letting agent experienced in this area.

Unwanted alarm activations can also cause unit occupants to become complacent due to repeated exposure to false alarms as well as the high financial cost of any business within the building that has been interrupted.

In addition to making sure school leavers are educated on the cost and safety issues caused by false fire alarms when staying in your building, we encourage bodies corporate to adopt the
following ‘house rules’ to ensure school leavers behave responsibly and avoid incidents for the duration of schoolies:
• No glass bottles in the room or pool area (bag checks can be carried out by onsite security)
• A maximum of two external guests permitted to a room at any time to restrict the potential for parties
• Secure rooftops to prohibit skylarking and dangerous stunts
• Zero tolerance policy for misbehaviour on apartment balconies
• Noise must be kept to a minimum
• Dangerous behaviour will be dealt with by police

This article was contributed by Kim Cullen, Gold Coast Office Manager – Archers the Strata Professionals.