‘Action is required’: AFL game at risk as firefighters raise TIO Stadium safety concerns

by | Jun 3, 2022 | News | 0 comments

An NT Fire and Rescue Service health and safety officer is calling on the organisation to explain what steps it will take to “mitigate the risk” for firefighters at TIO Stadium this weekend, given the “current ongoing risk the structure poses”, a leaked internal letter has revealed.

The concerns, if unaddressed, could see the stadium shut down ahead of Saturday’s scheduled Gold Coast vs North Melbourne AFL game.

The letter, to an NT Fire Service watch commander demanding answers, raised many of the public safety issues revealed by the NT Independent in previous reporting, including that an engineers report last year showed the stadium has inadequate water pressure to extinguish a major fire at the facility, as well as serious safety concerns about the fire panel at the stadium being isolated during major events.

The firefighter work health and safety representative called for a full, unredacted report to be provided to health and safety officers to determine “what if any other safety concerns may … exist at the site for firefighters who attend”.

“Furthermore, in light of the impending AFL match scheduled for Saturday June 4th 2022 at TIO Stadium, I also ask what measures the NTFRS will employ to ensure that the known issues concerning fire fighting water pressure and volume at the site and the ongoing Fire Panel isolation issues will not impact on turn out times and Firefighter safety,” the letter states.

It also referenced a Queensland Fire and Emergency Services public “position statement” released last year which stated generally that “a reduction in available flow from the onsite hydrant system would have significant impact on the ability of firefighters to contain and extinguish a fire” of any building.

The letter concludes that “action is required to ensure the health and safety” of the public and firefighters who might be called to TIO Stadium for an incident, “in particular this Saturday with thousands anticipated to attend”.

“Due to the reasonable concerns that I have already formed from the partial Fire Engineers report that I’ve read and their possible impact on my work group on the night, let alone the current ongoing risk the structure poses, work health and safety consultation in order to mitigate the risk must be immediate, alternatively other provisions of the WHS  (Work Health and Safety) Act will need to be considered to ensure firefighter safety going forward.”

The NT Independent understands that as of Thursday night, no formal response had been provided to the health and safety rep’s concerns.

The government has struggled to certify the building for occupancy due to unresolved serious public safety issues including electrical issues, improper emergency exits and substandard fire hydrant water pressure and has been allowing people to enter under a temporary ministerial order that exempts the stadium from requiring an occupancy permit.

The NT Government, NT Major Events Company and the AFLNT all refused to explain why the fire alarm system at TIO Stadium was disabled for events at the uncertified building in the past, but not for the Parramatta Eels NRL game last month.

The NT Independent revealed in April that the fire alarm panel had been disabled for March’s AFLNT Grand Final, which prevented emergency alarm notifications from being sent to the Fire and Rescue Service in the event of an emergency.

The ICAC is currently investigating Minister Eva Lawler and the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics over the matter, after Ms Lawler exempted the stadium from requiring an occupancy certificate by ministerial decree while commissioner Michael Riches was making preliminary inquiries into the public safety issues.

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