Market farmers fired-up
COULD a wet lettuce catch fire? Is lemongrass combustible?
Georgica farmer Kenrick Riley, plans to put a sign in front of his herb and vegie stall at Byron Farmers’ Market if Byron Shire Council enforces a regulation that all food stallholders must have a working fire extinguisher and fire blanket at their market stall by the end of December.
This is what his sign will say; ‘According to the NSW Government, this Russian kale could self-combust and is a threat to my customers.’
As president of Byron Farmers’ Market, Mr Riley found out about the requirement for a fire extinguisher and blanket in a letter from the council about food stall permit renewals.
No one, he said is disputing the need for stalls that cook food to have adequate fire protection but his stall of fresh herbs and vegetables is about as low risk as you can get.
“It is strange to put out a requirement to have a fire extinguisher when we are selling cold, wet produce. The guy next to me sells eggs and cold meats, they are not going to combust,” Mr Riley said. The council letter affects 65 stall holders at Byron’s Farmers’ Market which means 65 fire extinguishers will need to be purchased.
According to Byron Shire Council’s team leader of environmental health services Jon Rushforth, the new requirement is a result of the NSW Government adopting the revised State Environmental Planning Policy on Temporary Structures.
“Whilst we are not happy about placing another requirement on market food stallholders, demonstrating an annually serviced fire extinguisher is a ‘least cost’ approach,” Mr Rushforth said.
The other alternative is if the stall is made of fire retardant materials, he said.
Most stalls at the market are aluminium with a fabric awning, Mr Riley said
A fire extinguisher will cost about $50 while a fire blanket is about $30. The extinguisher will need to be serviced every year at a cost of $20-$30.
“It’s not price, its principle,” Mr Riley said and he would rather donate the money to the fire brigade.
.“There has been no consultation or explanation, the department don’t realise how stupid it is,” he added.
The NSW Department of Planning told The Northern Star that the recent amendments made to the policy did not change the provisions regarding temporary structures such as market stalls and that the Building Code of Australia did not have requirements for fire extinguishers or safety blankets for market stalls.
“Byron Shire Council is wrong to say there have been ‘new’ provisions introduced with regard to temporary structures,” a spokesperson for the planning department said.
Both Ballina Shire and Lismore City Council only require fire protection for stalls that are actually cooking food.