The recent discovery of a body in the stairwell of a fire escape at Westfield Bondi Junction has highlighted the importance for venues to be fitted with clear signage about ways out and that they are regularly checked for safe egress. The body of a deceased elderly male was found by a maintenance worker last month in a fire escape some three weeks after his last reported sighting in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.
The missing man informed family members of his planned walk to Bondi Junction to do some shopping, but when he failed to meet his wife an hour later as planned, his family reported him missing, leading to an extensive search by the NSW Police.
Employees at retail stores in Westfield Bondi Junction close to where the deceased’s body was found said the stairwell was not routinely used by shop employees. Reports by the Daily Telegraph stated that Westfield did conduct periodic sweeps of the building, but one had occurred just before Mr Gore went missing. It reported that the fire safety doors in the shopping centre are labelled “Do not keep open” and only open inwards, with exits located at the very top and the bottom of the stairwell.
Not all circumstances surrounding this case have been made public, however it highlights potential problems venue operators might have in regular checking of isolated stairwells, especially when being used by members of the public.