Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Rights and Responsibilities

with 5 comments

The royal commission into Black Saturday will bring about a raft of changes to better protect communities in the future.

However, the government will have difficulty protecting people from themselves when it comes to the right to stay and defend one’s property. Whilst the landholder has that right, he also has corresponding responsibilities.

  • In exercising that right, he does not have the right to put other people’s lives in jeopardy.  That includes his family as well as emergency service personnel.
  • He has the responsibility to make provision for himself and his family against being burned to death.  That probably involves building a bunker underground away from the main house.  One couple died in their cellar with the house falling in on top of them.
  • He has the responsibility to understand the properties of fire under extreme conditions and what precautions he needs to take  to defend his property against the fire.  Even those of us who have the CFA Minimum Skills accreditation can never be sure

A CFA Volunteer must be accredited before s/he can enter a fireground – why should it be different for property holders.  To exercise their right to stay and defend, they should be required to get accreditation from their local CFA Captain that shows:

  1. The applicant has undergone the CFA Minimum Skills program
  2. They have a designated shelter to survive in upon a blow-over of fire
  3. They have a responsible fire plan to work to.

On the fireground, the incident controller has the authority of the Crown and must be given the authority to evacuate the landholder.


Written by Greg Naylor

18 February 2009 at 1:07 am


5 Responses

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  1. That’s worthy of a submission to Justice Teague, Greg. I think he’d take heed of it. Brilliant suggestions.

    Ray Dixon (Bright)

    18 February 2009 at 10:08 am

  2. When the first CFA crew arrives at a fire, the Crew Leader becomes the incident controller and has the power of the crown – even over the police.

    His first duty is the protection of his own life and that of his crew. Next follows the protection of the lives of other people on the fireground and in the path of the fire should it get away from him. Protection of assets then comes into play followed by fighting the fire itself.

    Often, he is confronted with a landholder who is in a state of absolute shock and panic. Yet, the incident controller does not have the legal power to remove this person even though a panicked landholder may be preventing the incident controller from fulfilling his duties. We have to protect him from litigation should he deem it necessary to remove the landholder

    Greg Naylor

    18 February 2009 at 2:02 pm

  3. The only problem I have with that is I think his first duty should be the protection of ALL lives on the fireground (including his own but equally those of the landholders). I think we’d be in denial to say that there were no lives lost on Feb 7 because of that very rule.

    Ray Dixon (Bright)

    18 February 2009 at 8:13 pm

  4. I agree that the protection of lives is imperative Ray, but without the authority to remove people from danger zones it is unfair to burden a CFA captain with that duty. I think that the present plan is a correct one, why should fire fighters die attempting to protect someone who refuses to leave a dangerous location?

    Dave from Albury

    19 February 2009 at 10:47 am

  5. The imperative in my suggestion, Dave, is that the authority to order evacuation be included. It would also require a re-education progran so that the public understands the new rules, ie they MUST obey the fire captain/controller, instead of being told ‘it’s OK to stay & defend’.

    I’m not suggesting firefighters “die attempting to protect someone who refuses to leave a dangerous location”, but I do believe there needs to be a change of emphasis in extreme fire events where the No 1 priority is getting people out of the way. No one expects a volunteer to put his or her life on the line, so maybe we need to mobilise the Armed Forces much earlier whenever such extreme conditions are forecast. They’re paid to do that – to protect people, even from themselves.

    I’ve written a lot about this at my blog.

    Ray Dixon (Bright)

    19 February 2009 at 11:43 am

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