One of the country’s leading strata industry bodies has issued a stern fire warning to property investors about people living in apartments, following an ugly and unlikely incident in Victoria’s St Kilda last week.
Strata Community Australia said 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.
Fire investigators believe a leaking gas bottle is the cause of the St Kilda incident, which forced residents to evacuate and left the three-storey apartment block engulfed in flames for more than half an hour.
Strata Community Australia (Vic) general manager Rob Beck said better safety education is needed.
“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,” he 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.”
Mr Beck said that earlier in the month Queensland police reported a barbecue on a third-level balcony led to two fires spreading through several floors of an apartment block in Chermside.
He said 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,” said Mr Beck.
“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 minimise the risks of fire.”
The fire joins a string of incidents in recent months relating to barbecue equipment in Victoria and around the country.