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- Unreported Judgment
QUEENSLAND CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
Jackson & Anor v Commissioner, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services  QCAT 64
PETER WAYNE JACKSON
JASON EDWARD JACKSON
COMMISSIONER, QUEENSLAND FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
General administrative review matters
4 March 2020
15 November 2019
The application is dismissed.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNALS – QUEENSLAND CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL – review of decision to issue requisition for installation of a fire hydrant – whether jurisdiction to issue requisition – whether premises is within rural or urban fire zone
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld), s 19, s 20, s 28, s 157(2)
Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 (Qld), s 69
REASONS FOR DECISION
- This is a review of a decision of the respondent Commissioner of the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (‘QFES’) to issue a requisition to the applicant to the effect that the applicants were to install a fire hydrant system at the premises located at 178 Upper Murray Road, Murrigal, Queensland near the town of Tully.
- The applicants purchased 178 Upper Murray Road in about 2004 as tenants in common. The property, which is described as being 73 hectares in size, has a house and what is described as an implement shed on it. This is where Jason Jackson lives with his family. There is no town water, and water for the property comes from a bore.
- In about 2009, both applicants agreed that Jason could construct a new shed on the property. Jason has a business called Jackson Fabrication and Welding Pty Ltd and he required a shed to conduct his business. Acting on this, the applicants lodged a building application with the Cassowary Coast Regional Council in May 2009 for the construction of a shed on their property at 178 Upper Murray Road, Murrigal.
- A new steel framed shed was constructed in 2009 and a fire hose reel system and fire extinguishers were installed. In December 2016, this shed was extended which necessitated another application to the Cassowary Coast Regional Council.
- On 2 February 2017, the respondent received information by way of email and photographic material from the Cassowary Coast Regional Council advising that the shed was not compliant with building fire safety legislation.
- Upon review of the material, the respondent reached the conclusion that the premises were being used as a Class 8 building as defined under the building classifications set out in the National Construction Code.
- Under the National Construction Code in clause E1.3, a fire hydrant must be provided to serve a building having a total floor area greater than 500 square metres and where an urban fire brigade is available to attend a building fire.
- Pursuant to section 69(1) of the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 (Qld), on 14 February 2017 the respondent issued a requisition notice ER110286 to the applicants which in effect required them to install a fire hydrant system that complies with Australian Standard 2419.1 – 2005.
- In February 2017, the applicants filed an application with QCAT for the review of this decision. The grounds of the review are limited to the question of whether the respondent has jurisdiction to issue the requisition notice in these circumstances.
- There is no dispute that the building is a Class 8 building, that the building’s floor area is greater than 500 square metres and that no compliant fire hydrant system is installed. The dispute or the question to be decided by the Tribunal is whether an urban fire brigade is available to attend a building fire at that location.
- If it is accepted that the applicants’ position is correct that there is no urban fire brigade available, then the respondent has no jurisdiction to issue the requisition notice.
- The National Construction Code (E1.3) requires the installation of a fire hydrant system to service a building having a total floor area greater than 500 square metres and where a fire brigade is available to attend a building fire which can attend after notification within 30 minutes.
- It is accepted by both the applicants and the respondent that the nearest urban fire brigade is located at Tully which is approximately 17.5 kilometres away by road from the subject property; however, the applicants raised issues as to whether this fire brigade is staffed on a full-time basis and hence is qualified to be classed as an urban fire brigade.
- The Tribunal heard evidence from one of the applicants, Mr Peter Jackson, who has been a volunteer member of the rural fire brigade for many years in the area. In his evidence, he gave instances where he said that the urban fire brigade from Tully did not arrive until 30 minutes after notification, while the rural fire brigade was there within 30 minutes or earlier and had put out the fire. He also states that the response time is more in the vicinity of 40 minutes, which puts it outside of the jurisdiction of the QFES. He also said that no one from the QFES carried out a physical inspection on the site. If they had, he would have been able to show that the shed is not connected to the mains water supply but relies on bore water from underground. He asserts that the failure to inspect is procedurally incorrect and hence is a denial of natural justice.
- The Tribunal also heard evidence from David Gilbard who is a Station Officer with 20 years’ experience with the QFES. Mr Gilbard disagreed with Mr Jackson on the response times. He agreed that there was no physical inspection of the premises, but he blamed this on the actions of the applicants.
- It is accepted by both parties that the Tully fire brigade station is 17.5 kilometres away, therefore a vehicle travelling at 60 kilometres per hour would take 17 minutes and 30 sections to arrive. A fire truck on urgent duty, which is not limited by the speed limit, would arrive in much less time. Even taking into account the need for members of that brigade to get ready before leaving the fire station, the Tribunal accepts that an urban fire brigade is able to attend within the 30-minute limit for this property.
- For this reason, the decision of the respondent Commissioner is upheld, and the application is dismissed.
- Published Case Name:
Jackson & Anor v Commissioner, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
- Shortened Case Name:
Jackson v Commissioner, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
 QCAT 64
Member Krebs, Schnofelder, Toolen
04 Mar 2020