Expert says fire in The Criterion could be catastrophic
ONE of Rockhampton's most iconic pubs is in the firing line.
The Commissioner of the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service lodged an application to the Supreme Court of Rockhampton last year to have The Criterion Hotel suspend operation until it had addressed a number of safety issues.
In a hearing yesterday, counsel for the QFRS Michael Nicolson said the building was not compliant with relevant legislation and was "so unsafe it should not be inhabited".
CQUniversity Professor Jose Luis Torero, an expert in civil engineering, supported this view in his evidence.
He examined the building and compiled a report last November.
He told the court an isolated smoke-free means of "egress'' (exiting) was the fundamental pillar of fire safety.
He said in the case of The Criterion, the means of egress was not isolated and smoke could therefore travel throughout the building.
He also argued that if one means of egress was compromised, the only other available escape would also be compromised as they were not sufficiently separated.
"The consequences could be catastrophic," he said.
Defence barrister Steven Deaves, who represents owner Turnbull Hotel Enterprises, asked Mr Torero if other fire safety requirements such as hydrants, hoses and alarm systems were met.
He said he assumed they were appropriate.
Mr Deaves put it to another building expert that if a building was erected before 1976, when the Building Code of Australia was introduced, it had no obligation to comply.
The expert said this was only the case if no work had been done on the building.
He also argued that in the case of The Criterion the old part of the building was internally connected to the new parts and consequently it was considered one building.