PRESS RELEASE: 3/11/20
BUSHFIRES ROYAL COMMISSION FINDINGS – DEVELOPERS, COUNCILS AND BODY CORPORATES ON NOTICE NOT TO BE NEGLIGENT
Jim Wilson, Principal of Wilson Haynes solicitors believes that the outtake of the Bushfires Royal Commission findings and recommendations was that communities and leadership within those communities needed to proactively upgrade Bushfire Safety Management Plans (BSMPs) and, if they
do not have a BSMP, to get one fast!
Mr Wilson said, “Most people naively think that if they have a burn off or back burn plan that that is all that is required for a BSMP. Nothing could be further from the truth: a BSMP should include such life-saving matters as evacuation procedures, fuel reduction initiatives using other than fire, post
evacuation congregation points, and Safe Harbours of Last Resort, for those who cannot get out of the way of the fire.”
“Developers, councils, body corporates and management committees of both strata title and community management schemes are effectively on notice that if they do not develop and implement an area-specific, best-practice BSMP, then they stand a very strong chance of being held civilly (if not criminally) liable for property loss and loss of life,” Mr Wilson emphasised.
Mr Wilson went on to say, “The Commission stated that “future catastrophic fire conditions may render traditional bushfire prediction models and fire-fighting techniques less effective.” Now that that should put developers and body corporates and others on notice that they had better check
their directors’ and officers’ liability insurance to see if it will respond to what, I am sure, will be adjudged by courts to be gross negligence, if a relevant BSMP is not in existence and actioned, and a
fire catastrophe occurs.”
“ I have had it said to me that there are some new developments on the Gold Coast where fire tracks are designated as being in the approved plan, but are simply not provided by the developer or not done so on a complaint basis: it’s about time the Council and the local bushfire authorities and the fire brigades took a big stick to this sort of errant behaviour and urged for fines and gaol for noncompliance.” Mr Wilson said.
Mr Wilson concluded by saying, “Likewise, if you are a body corporate of a bushland subdivision and you don’t have Bushfire Safety Management Plan, then it is almost inevitable that civil and criminal prosecutions will be commenced against the body corporate and management committee members, for gross negligence, if it can be proven that a BSMP was needed and not provided and loss of property or loss of life occurred as a consequence.”
For more information- contact Jim Wilson, Principal, Wilson Haynes solicitors on 0415 645121