A recent fatal caravan fire in QLD has again sparked demands for a comprehensive review of Queensland’s smoke alarm laws for caravans and moveable dwellings. Emergency response teams were dispatched to the blaze in Upper Brookfield, located in the western suburbs of Brisbane, during the early hours of Saturday 20th May 2023. Upon arrival, firefighters encountered flames engulfing the van from all sides and tragically two people were discovered deceased inside the wreckage. This is not the first fatal caravan fire to occur in QLD.
Our previous blog post published only a few months ago identified caravan smoke alarm laws for each state. Shockingly, Queensland remains one of only three states in Australia where although ‘recommended’, compulsory smoke alarms are not mandated by law in caravans, campervans and other such moveable dwellings.
According to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, it is recommended to have at least one operational photoelectric smoke alarm within the caravan’s sleeping area, as well as another alarm in the annex if it is used for sleeping purposes. Following this devastating incident, QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk publicly expressed her intention to discuss the mandatory implementation of smoke alarms in mobile dwellings with the QFES Commissioner.
As reported by the Courier Mail newspaper;
‘Queensland Fire and Emergency Service officials are working on potential amendments to smoke alarm legislation for movable dwellings “The work is complex and requires further consultation with stakeholders,” a QFES spokesman said.
Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan said: “We take advice from the experts on matters like this, and I have asked Queensland Fire and Emergency Services to expedite its consideration of this matter”. “QFES is preparing advice for the government about this issue,” he said. “We are always looking at ways to support community safety.”
“If there is more that can be done to support safety in relation to caravans and other mobile types of accommodation, the government will always give that careful consideration.”
Caravan fires have been a recurring concern over the years, with some distressing incidents occurring within Queensland. In 2022 a young father in Logan tragically died whilst protecting his partner and unborn child from a caravan fire which started due to a combusting e-scooter battery.
NSW laws have required that smoke alarms be installed in all new and existing moveable dwellings since 2011. The Brisbane Times magazine reported back in 2020 that a Queensland deputy coroner called for the state’s fire service to consider the mandatory installation of smoke alarms in all moveable dwellings after an army veteran died in a caravan park blaze near Lowood, west of Brisbane.
As mentioned in our last article – don’t allow yourself to become a statistic. Don’t wait until something is required by law as being the catalyst for change. If you own a caravan, campervan or other moveable home please be pro-active and make sure you have at least one working photoelectric smoke alarm installed today.