Fire safety blitz for Byron Schoolies Week

Published: 22nd November 2010

The NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) has stepped up its fire safety inspections of accommodation and entertainment venues in Byron Bay for the influx of young visitors currently taking part in Schoolies Week.

Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan said this was part of a targeted program of detailed fire safety inspections in popular areas such as Byron Bay and specific venues before events like Schoolies Week and other festivities.

"Ensuring our young people are can enjoy themselves safely after all their hard work completing the HSC is very important to the NSW Government," said Mr Whan.

"Over the past two years, firefighters have worked with the Byron Shire Council and local police officers to inspect nightclubs, hotels, backpacker hostels and guest houses throughout Bryon Bay," he said.

"These comprehensive inspections are routinely carried out across NSW, but also are specifically targeted in areas where large numbers of people are gathering to celebrate major events.

"The NSWFB works with local councils across the State to coordinate fire safety inspections, checking premises that local council officials have identified as being due for inspection or about which they have specific safety concerns.

NSWFB Commissioner Greg Mullins said accommodation and venue inspections in Byron Bay over the past month had identified a number of faults, with orders subsequently issued for these to be rectified immediately.

"Fire officers were concerned to find a number of smoke alarms that were either not working or had insufficiently loud alarm volumes. All faults have now been re-checked and cleared," Commissioner Mullins said.

"The importance of a regular fire safety program was highlighted last month when a candle set fire to a mattress in a backpacker hostel in Byron Bay.

"Fortunately, 34 occupants of this hostel evacuated safely, despite the fact the premises had heat detectors fitted rather than smoke detectors, which are a requirement for all premises where people sleep.

"An immediate compliance order was issued and the correct smoke detectors have now been installed. This incident also underlines the importance of not leaving candles, oil burners, heaters, cooking or clothes dryers unattended."

NSWFB fire safety inspections are conducted year-round, with a particular focus on the lead-up to popular events such as Schoolies Week and major sporting and music events.

Over the next two months, the NSWFB will conduct detailed inspections of the emergency plans, building use and fire safety arrangements at Sydney Olympic Park ahead of the Stereosonic Music Festival in November, the V8 Supercars race in December and the Big Day Out music festival in January.

"NSWFB building compliance officers check emergency evacuation plans and ensure that venues and accommodation sites have properly functioning fire safety equipment and are only taking in the number of people they are licensed to accommodate," Mr Whan said.

"Our fire safety inspection program reflects the NSW Government's commitment to ensuring that events hosted in NSW are as safe as possible for our community."