A Mt Isa shopping centre owner and his company have been ordered to pay $29,000 in fines and legal fees this week after a successful prosecution by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) led to 34 building fire safety charges.
The defendant pled guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court to 30 charges related to breaches of the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 and the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008, as well as four personal charges under executive liability provisions of the legislation.
The court heard QFES first identified several non-compliance issues during a routine maintenance inspection on 30 September 2019.
Officers found issues including the critical failure to maintain on-site fire hydrants, which would provide a water source for firefighters during a building fire.
Other breaches included failing to maintain fire extinguishers, not having a building fire evacuation plan, and failing to practice emergency evacuation drills.
QFES safety officers visited the shopping centre a further four times in the nine months following their initial inspection to check if the issues had been fixed and the centre made compliant with fire safety regulations.
However, the breaches were not resolved during that period and the court heard the defendant was unable to prove the centre had been made compliant.
Magistrate Suzette Coates noted in sentencing that the intent of the fire safety legislation was to protect Queenslanders
She said it had proven to be effective legislation and that QFES had an outstanding record as a fire service that preserved life and property.
QFES Commissioner Greg Leach said fire safety legislation was there to protect communities across the state.
“This legislation helps ensure public safety during a fire in a shopping centre or in any other property,” Mr Leach said.
“Our safety officers conduct these types of routine inspections in buildings across Queensland to ensure property owners and those responsible for fire safety building compliance are doing the right thing.
“We are committed to working with all property owners and building managers to ensure they understand fire safety legislation, their requirements and how to comply with these.”