Fail to Comply With Fire Prevention Notice

Fail to Comply With Fire Prevention Notice

Failing to Comply With Fire Prevention Notice is found in section 41D(1) of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 in Victoria. It is a criminal offence that is committed by a person who had been served with a fire prevention notice but failed to comply.

Have you been accused of Fail to Comply With Fire Prevention Notice?

Interview
Due to the potential financial penalties that can apply to this charge, it is best to contact us to receive confidential legal advice before speaking with an investigator in relation to an allegation of Failing to Comply With Fire Prevention Notice. One of our lawyers can assist you by answering your important questions and by speaking with the investigator to get as much information about the allegations as possible.

You may also decide to have one of our lawyers accompany you to the interview.

Pleading Not Guilty
Our experienced lawyers regularly deal with these types of complex prosecutions and can go through the brief of evidence for you to develop a defence strategy. You want a lawyer on your side who is going to protect your interests in court and look for shortcomings in the prosecution case.

Our lawyers are thorough and pride themselves on their preparedness to defend charges.

Pleading Guilty
Our lawyers are dedicated court advocates and conduct pleas on behalf of our clients every day. We will be able to assist you in trying to negotiate the charges and agreed summary of facts to receive the best possible outcome by closely considering the facts of your case, advising you of strategies you can implement to reduce the penalty.

Sentencing
Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts of VictoriaSentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Fail to Comply With Fire Prevention Notice in the Magistrates' Courts
As a summary offence, this charge will primarily be handled by the Magistrates’ Court.
 
What is the legal definition of Fail to Comply With Fire Prevention Notice?
The legal definition of this offence is failing to comply with a fire prevention notice which has been served on the accused.

Examples of Fail to Comply With Fire Prevention Notice
  • A fire prevention notice is served on you. Because you’re in a rural area, the notice specifies that you have to insert hoses long enough to reach around your house, and you have to keep your lawn maintained and cut back overhanging shrubbery. You forget to install the hoses and maintain your garden because you’re busy at work. A fire starts and spreads rapidly across to your neighbour’s property.
  • A fire prevention notice is served on you. The notice specifies that you have to repair missing tiles on your roof, attach a fire sprinkler system to your gutters and fit seals around your doors and windows. You are on a tight budget and decide that you cannot afford these repairs. The police visit your house and notice the repairs were not undertaken within the specified time frame.
Legislation
The legislation for this offence can be found on section 41(d)(1) of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958.

Elements of the offence
The prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That a fire prevention notice had been served on the accused
According to section 41A(1), a notice may be served on an owner or occupier:

  1. by giving it to or serving it personally on the owner or occupier; or
  2. by sending it by post to the owner or occupier at that person’s usual or last known residential or business address; or
  3. by leaving it at the usual or last known residential or business address of the owner or occupier with a person on the premises who is apparently at least 16 years old and apparently residing or employed there; or
  4. in a manner prescribed by any other Act or law for service on a person or class of persons of the same type as the owner or occupier.
However, if the fire prevention officer (s41A(2)):

  1. does not know who the owner or occupier of any land is; or
  2. does not know the residential or business address of the owner or occupier; or
  3. believes that the owner or occupier is absent from Victoria and has no agent in Victoria known to the officer –
Then the fire prevention notice may be served (s41A(3)):

  1. by displaying it on the land; and
  2. by publishing a notice, in the prescribed form and containing the prescribed particulars, in a newspaper circulating generally in the municipal district.
This means that saying you ‘didn’t know about the notice’ is no excuse. If you’re the owner of the land, and a fire prevention officer displays the notice on your land and publishes it in the local newspaper, this is sufficient service (s41A(4)).

  • That the accused did not comply with the notice
This will be a matter of fact. Looking at the relevant notice, and examining the words carefully, did you fail to comply what the notice asked you to do?
  • That the accused was the owner or occupier of the property subject to the notice
Do you own the property? An owner means a registered proprietor. Do you occupy the property? An occupier would include someone who is renting the property and living there.

Objecting to a notice
Under section 41B of the Act, a person on whom a fire prevention notice has been served may lodge a written objection with the fire prevention officer within 7 days of the service of the notice stating the grounds of objection.

Within 14 days of lodging the objection, the fire prevention office must:

  1. confirm the notice; or
  2. vary the notice, if the fire prevention officer is satisfied that the variation will appropriately address the threat of fire; or
  3. withdraw the notice, if the fire prevention officer is satisfied that there is no longer any case for the notice to be served.
If the fire prevention officer confirms or varies the notice he or she must specify a new time within which the person must comply with the notice (section 41B(4)).
 
Depending on the facts of your case, there are a number of defences which may be applicable. They include honest and reasonable mistake of belief, lack of intent, necessity, sudden or extraordinary emergency, duress, and mental impairment. Other defences are error of fact and absence of proof beyond reasonable doubt.

Questions in cases like this
  • Were you properly served with the notice?
  • Did you breach the notice? Read the notice carefully, as every notice is likely to contain different conditions.
  • Are you the owner or occupier of the property subject to the notice?
  • Do you have time to lodge a written objection?
If you have been charged with this offence, it is important that you see a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will assess your circumstances and discuss the options available to you. They will give a recommendation as to whether you should make a guilty plea or challenge the charge in court.

Often people do plead guilty to charges and then it is a case of discussing with your lawyer the best way to present your version of events to the Magistrate. Organising your material and presenting your case well in Court will have a substantial impact on the outcome in your case.
 

The offence of Fail to Comply With Fire Prevention Notice (s41D(1) of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958) carries a fine of 120 penalty units (around $19,342) or 12 months imprisonment as the highest possible sentence. The sentence received depends on the circumstances of the case. It should be noted that more significant breaches of this section would see a penalty in the higher end of the sentencing range.