How much does bad advise cost your business?
What is real compliance when it comes to Building Fire Safety?
Recent Fire Safety audits have identified a number of instances that do not meet compliance with the laws of Queensland and yet have been passed as compliant. These anomalies were not raised by previous auditors and in the event of an incident, the business and personnel are exposed to civil and criminal liability. On the 23rd of June 2000 the horrific and tragic deaths associated with the Palace Backpackers fire in Childers sparked immediate action by the Queensland Government. As a part of this, the then government (Minister for Emergency Services) launched a Building Fire Safety Taskforce to address the issues which had been exposed. On the 7th of July 2006 Queensland State Coroner Mr Michael Barnes produced his findings from the investigation into the deaths associated with the fire. As a part of this Mr Barnes made a number or recommendations which were utilised and enacted to the current Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008. The purpose of this Regulation it set out the objective as being
The main objects of this regulation are—
(a) to ensure persons can evacuate buildings safely and quickly if a fire or hazardous materials emergency
(b) to ensure prescribed fire safety installations for buildings are maintained.
In recent times this has been achieved by compliance audits and maintenance inspections by the QFRS after the introduction of the new legislative requirements.
When this is put into terms of business risk,it goes far and beyond that which is discovered by a government audit. Just because you did not receive a fine or something was missed in the audit, does not mean your risk has decreased or you are not liable.
With the lawful delegation of compliance placed on the building owner/occupier it remains their responsibility to ensure they are compliant with the legislative requirements and not just the check by the QFRS.
Risk compliance remains your responsibility at all times!
How do you ensure compliance?
- Check any advice which is given to you by anyone (including the government) to ensure compliance.
- Ask what legislation and standards they are referring to when they provide you with information.
- If you have an audit conducted, ask the auditor to show you what they used to compare the standard of the building to and why this reduces your risk. If this can’t be answered, have they really reduced your risk?
- Ensure you auditor is reputable (including current QBSA licence) and will be there to support you and the advice they have provided 10 minutes after they walk out the door.
Insurance companies are aware of this, and with a proven fully compliant building you can reduce risk and reduce your premium. While the cheapest option appears to make business sense, is the cheapest option ensuring you are protected and sleep well a night.
When making the final decision it's worth bearing in mind the laws of Queensland
22 Ignorance of the law—bona fide claim of right
(1) Ignorance of the law does not afford any excuse for an act or omission which would otherwise constitute an offence,