Stern Warnings Issued for Victorian apartment owners following St Kilda gas explosion forces evacuation
Look Up Strata
by Strata Community Australia (Victoria)
03 October 2017

A stern warning has been issued for 1 in 4 Victorians living in apartments, following a gas explosion in St Kilda Wednesday afternoon, 27 September 2017.

Property leaders say BBQ gas bottles have become an emerging fire safety threat for Victorian apartment blocks as more and more residents turn their balconies into an ‘outdoor’ barbecue area; and better safety education is desperately needed.

Fire investigators believe a leaking gas bottle was the cause of the incident in St Kilda this week, which forced residents to evacuate and left the three-storey apartment block engulfed in flames for more than half an hour.

The fire joins a string of incidents in recent months relating to barbecue equipment in Victoria and around the country, and the peak body representing strata schemes says owners must be educated before more dangerous incidents occur.

“Recent apartment fires across the nation caused by barbecues and gas bottles have made it painfully clear that safety isn’t being addressed as thoroughly as it should be in Victorian apartments and units.” Strata Community Australia (Vic) General Manager Rob Beck said.

“And ahead of the summer period, where we anticipate apartment owners will be enjoying their outdoor areas as much as possible, it’s important that strata schemes take steps to educate their community members on proper safety.”

Earlier this month Queensland police reported that a barbecue on a third-level balcony led to two fires spreading through several floors of an apartment block in Chermside: Fire forces dozens of people out of unit block at Chermside.

Mr Beck says getting crucial information on safer apartment living such as this could ultimately save people’s lives, and prevent costly damage.

“We’re encouraging strata schemes and apartment owners to not be negligent of safety when using barbecue equipment in the coming hotter months.”

“As we’re approaching summer obviously people in strata accommodation will want to have barbecues on their balconies or in communal areas. We’re not saying that people can’t have barbecues or use gas bottles, but serious safety incidents like we’ve recently seen can be prevented with the right information.”

“It’s extremely important that residents are educated about how to store highly flammable gas bottles in shared complexes to minimize the risks of fire.”

“We’d like to see better communication between strata schemes and their residents on following gas cylinder storage regulations and that safe practices on balconies and in communal areas are enforced.”

Mr Beck recommends that any apartment owners unsure of the safety regulations for their property should consult the City of Melbourne and Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s guide.

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