Firefighter in court for lighting fire
A LOCAL rural fire warden faced court this week after a fire was lit on his property during a total fire ban.
Rodney John Apelt appeared in the Dalby Magistrates Court on Tuesday, December 17, after making an 'honest mistake" during the statewide fire ban.
Prosecutor Senior Constable Jodie Tahana told the court on November 18 at 6.50am, an employee set fire to piles of vegetation on Apelt's property at Tara.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services attended the address to find the fire was contained and not at risk of spreading.
Apelt told police his employee, who he had not spoken to since the end of October, had lit the fire as they had been piling and setting fire to vegetation on the property for approximately eight months.
Just three days after Apelt gained a fire permit, a state of fire emergency was declared on November 9, prohibiting the lighting of fires throughout the state.
Apelt, who is the fire warden of a rural fire brigade, was aware of the state of fire emergency but said he had not taken steps to stop the lighting of fires on his land after becoming aware of the ban. The court heard Apelt told police it was an honest mistake.
Representing himself, Apelt told the court he wasn't at the property at the time the fire was lit.
"I certainly didn't tell him to light them," he said.
"I thought everyone in Queensland would have known there was a total fire ban everywhere so I took it for granted.
Apelt said he has since had staff meetings to ensure from now on no fires will be lit without his approval.
Apelt pleaded guilty to one count of failure to comply with declaration and was fined $300. No conviction was recorded.