Bonner house fire - a message from ESA

I refer to the tragic house fire event at Bonner on Monday morning, which has attracted significant media coverage over the past few days. Following some feedback I need to clarify ACT Fire & Rescue (ACTF&R) procedures and how the ESA updates messages to the public.

Firefighters are often called upon to respond to a complex variety of hazards and emergencies, and outcomes such as the one at Bonner can have a significant impact. I would like to thank all ACTF&R staff for the work they do, and I am particularly thankful to those who responded to the Bonner house fire. Feedback from ACT Policing also praises the work of our firefighters at the incident.

While our thoughts and prayers are with the three individuals who lost their lives, and their family and friends, there are some matters that have arisen from this incident, particularly in relation to our communications, that need to be clarified.

ESA works hard to ensure we provide accurate and up-to-date information as emergency events unfold, this is to ensure the community is well informed.

The information that is provided on our public website in the Bonner house fire incident is accurate at the time as reported by Senior Fire Officers on-scene. This information is based on what firefighters call a primary search, which they undertake on arrival at a fire. The purpose of a primary search is to rescue to the best of our ability, anyone that could be inside the building.

A secondary search is then conducted once the fire is contained. Tragically, in this case, firefighters discovered the bodies of three people during this search. ESA also provided information that this search was underway.

In line with incident management protocols, our standard approach is to not provide any public comment in relation to an incident once it is clear that fatalities are involved. This is out of respect for the deceased and their loved ones.

I take this opportunity to once again recognise and thank all of our firefighters, paramedics and emergency service personnel for their professionalism, and their continued efforts to care for and protect the Canberra community.

Dominic Lane
ESA Commissioner