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Government Responds After Harrietville Inquest

16 March 2016

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville today said her department had today provided a formal response to the Coroner following his findings in relation to the deaths of two firefighters at Harrietville in 2013.

In December last year Coroner John Olle released his findings from the Harrietville inquest into the deaths of Katie Peters and Steven Kadar in February 2013 at Harrietville, making 10 recommendations and four suggestions.

In its formal response to the findings, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) committed to implementing all recommendations and suggestions.

DELWP has commenced implementing all of the Coroner’s recommendations and suggestions as a priority.

The Department has already started work on improving communications and awareness, policies and procedures and staff capabilities.

The recommendations detail specific actions to improve the safety of personnel when fighting fires in environments with potentially hazardous trees.

Since 2013, DELWP has already undertaken a major review and update of procedures about tree hazards.

Staff working in forests throughout Victoria have been educated to ensure they understand how to identify and mark hazardous trees, with an increased focus on reducing the exposure and impact of hazardous tree incidents.

While safety risks on the fire ground cannot be completely eliminated, the Government is taking the steps required to minimise these risks.

In his findings the Coroner acknowledged that the work firefighters undertake is inherently dangerous and noted that our firefighters are dedicated, selfless, brave, respected and critical to the community.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville

“The Coroner has made some important findings in relation to the tragic deaths of Katie Peters and Steven Kadar and the department is taking appropriate action to implement his recommendations.”

Katie and Steven were dedicated and highly respected firefighters whose loss was profoundly felt, and continues to be felt, by the department and its emergency management sector partners.”

“The department will now implement the Coroner’s recommendations and suggestions as a priority.”

Quotes attributable to Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Secretary Adam Fennessy

“The deaths of Katie Peters and Steven Kadar were a terrible tragedy for their families, communities and our Department, which continues to be deeply felt.”

“We will be implementing the Coroner’s full recommendations and doing everything we can to make sure our firefighters are safe in their work protecting our communities.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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