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Murrindindi trial starts Wednesday
As you may be aware, the trial of the Murrindindi civil proceeding is scheduled to start next Wednesday, 4 February 2015.
The Supreme Court class action was filed against AusNet Services (formerly SP AusNet), Utility Services Corporation (USC), Victoria Police, DELWP (formerly DEPI/DSE) and CFA on behalf of a class of people affected by the Murrindindi fire on 7 February 2009.
The claims against AusNet relate to alleged electrical engineering failures causing nearby dry vegetation to ignite; and the allegations against USC relate to alleged failure to ensure adequate inspection of the Murrindindi electrical assets.
The plaintiff and AusNet have made claims against CFA, DELWP and the State of Victoria (Victoria Police). Broadly, the claims allege:
- Failure to adequately warn (CFA, DELWP and Victoria Police); and
- Failure to adequately control fuel through planned fuel reduction burning (DELWP only)
CFA, DELWP and Victoria Police are defending the claims made against them.
The initial stages of the proceeding will involve the parties presenting their opening submissions, followed by the plaintiff presenting her evidence. We anticipate the court will provide live streaming of the opening submissions, however we will provide more details as they become available.
As the sixth anniversary of the February 2009 fires approaches, our thoughts are with all those who lost loved ones, were injured, or affected by those fires.
We acknowledge that CFA firefighters did an outstanding job under extremely difficult fire conditions.
We recognise that some of our members may be concerned about the proceedings and we encourage those members to access CFA's welfare services. CFA has support services available both for members and their family. You can contact your local Peer Coordinator, call the Member Assistance Program on 1300 795 711, or Chaplaincy Program on 1800 337 068. These services are available for any CFA member who has concerns about the trial.
You can also find more information about the ongoing legal actions for the Murrindindi fires here on the CFA intranet and Brigades Online.
I will continue to keep you updated on the legal proceedings as the matter progresses.