QFES prosecutes Mackay building owners responsible for “disaster waiting to happen”

Two owners of a building in the heart of Mackay have been fined a total of $50,000 after each plead guilty to 20 building fire safety charges.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) successfully prosecuted the joint owners of the heritage listed building, which has been disused for about five years.

The owners appeared in Mackay Magistrates Court today where they plead guilty to 20 charges each. They were each fined $25,000, plus costs, and no conviction was recorded.

The charges related to disabling the Fire Detection and Alarm System (FDAS) and sprinkler system over a long period of time, as power was disconnected from the building.

A FDAS is monitored by QFES and, when activated, would result in an automatic response. The systems are legislatively required to be maintained in proper working order, regardless of whether the building is being used.

During proceedings, Magistrate Damien Dwyer said the defendants had knowledge of their requirements and had a lengthy period to fix the situation, however had not done so.

Magistrate Dwyer described the building as a disaster waiting to happen due to the fact there was several adjoining businesses in the area.

QFES Safety Assessment Officers inspected the building on nine occasions between 11 March 2019 and 26 February this year. Several Notices By Commissioner, which required the reinstatement of the FDAS and sprinkler system, were issued to the owners, however they took no action.

QFES Commissioner Greg Leach praised the work of Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) personnel who worked to identify hazards that had the potential to impact an entire community.

“This building is old and has little or no fire separation from the adjoining structures,” Mr Leach said.

“It also contained a high fire load, with timber and old furniture stored inside.

“If there was a fire, it would most likely have resulted in multiple structures being engulfed in flames, especially with the FDAS disabled.

“I am pleased with the court’s decision and, once again, hope it acts as a deterrent for those who think they can flaunt the building fire safety regulations.”

Members of the public that would like more information regarding fire safety are encouraged to visit www.qfes.qld.gov.au/buildingsafety.

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