Fines issued in fire protection industry for breaches of ozone protection laws

13 September 2021

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has issued three infringement notices for non-compliance within the fire protection industry for breaching regulations under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989.

A Queensland company has been fined for engaging an unlicensed technician to undertake fire protection work, resulting in the discharge of the regulated fire extinguishing agent and synthetic greenhouse gas, HFC-227ea.

The unlicensed technician was allowed to work on the fire suppression system of a tugboat leading to the release of 247 kg of HFC-227ea into the atmosphere.  This is equivalent to over 795 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

The company was found to have breached the conditions of the Extinguishing Agent Trading Authorisation issued to it under the regulations.

The company had an approved risk management plan to protect the environment as required by law, but failed to follow the plan and engaged an unlicensed technician.

The company was issued an infringement notice of $13,320 for engaging in conduct that led to the extinguishing agent being released into the atmosphere and $444 for failing to put into effect a risk management plan.

The technician was also issued an infringement notice of $444 for handling the extinguishing agent without a licence.

The department takes non-compliance with Australia's laws to protect the ozone layer and climate system seriously.

These penalties serve as a reminder to industry to reduce the risk of environmentally damaging discharges by following risk management plans and ensuring that all technicians are appropriately skilled and licensed.  

Further information on fire protection under Australia's ozone protection laws can be found here: https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/ozone/fire-protection