Reply To: Meetings held with CFA, MFB, EMV and others

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Home Forums – VMBSG CFA MFB Reference Group Meetings held with CFA, MFB, EMV and others Reply To: Meetings held with CFA, MFB, EMV and others

Asanka Kodikara

Emergency Callouts
In Boroondara,I am the primary contact when called by the Police, MFB or SES during working hours, at which point a Building inspector, a Building Surveyor or myself as the MBS attend the site immediately or as soon as practicable. Once we are on site if it is a fire damaged building we carry out a joint inspection with the brigade officers, assess the building and the surrounding properties and issue an Emergency Oder where necessary and sometimes a Building Notice as well. If the site is accessible to the general public, then we will organize temporary fencing if the owner fails to arrange for it.
Often we do not get notified of fires by the MFB; we find out on the radio or TV the following day. However, in instances when I get notified by the Council’s A/H call service or another department, I ask them for the mobile number of the Fire Commander on site and call them direct and get few details and ask them whether it is imperative that I attend at that time or whether I could attend the following day to assess the site. Most often they do not require our immediate attendance. We also have an agreement with Johns Lyng make safe contractors to attend sites after hours if necessary to secure sites or to make safe dangerous parts if abutting public land. We will however, inspect the site the following day and issue necessary Notices and Orders where necessary.
My personal opinion is that the Police and MFB have the same ‘duty of care’ under their own respective ‘Acts’ similar to Sec 212 for Councils. Working with previous Councils such as Frankston and Kingston, my experience has been that the Police, MFB and CFA are very happy to handover the sites as soon as possible to Council’s MBS for us to restrict access to the site by organizing temporary fencing etc. The reason for MFB or the Police calling Council staff in the night is obvious; to pass on the responsibility, liability and costs to Council. Having said this, it is imperative the MBS or his/her delegate inspect the dangerous site and take necessary action, but the question is… is it necessary for the MBS to attend the site as soon as he/she is called by the Police, MFB or the CFA? Majority of the time the Police and the MFB calls for a Building Surveyor; is to assess the structural stability of a damaged building and in some instances I have been asked whether it is safe for the MFB crew to go inside. The questions we need to ask ourselves are; Are we qualified enough to make this judgment? Doesn’t the MFB have their own OH & S and work practices? or should they engage their own experts?
As most MBS s have said, it is high time we as a group convene a meeting or a workshop and come up with concrete guidelines and a policy document and inform other authorities.
Asanka Kodikara
Manager Building Services and Municipal Building Surveyor
City of Boroondara