My name is Andrew Hestelow and for over 20 years my wife and I have managed the 1st Wahroonga Scout group. 1st Wahroonga Scouts will be 100 years old, in 2022:


Every year the Hall is required to have a fire safety inspection. Normally that is arranged by Scouts head office and all we do is, pay the bill. But the first we knew of the inspection in 2020 was when we received an inspection overdue notice from Kuringai Council. Scouts head office had held onto that correspondence for two months, before forwarding it to us:


We requested and received a two-week extension:


Not to denigrate the fire inspection industry but you would have to live under a rock not to know it’s infested with shonks. Facebook Marketplace is full of offers for cheap fire extinguishers - which work fine, but have been replaced by some inspection company:


Note that the replacement cost these guys charge is twice what you would pay for the same extinguisher at Bunnings? And that the extinguishers are sold on their private Facebook accounts. Bodgy as it gets:


We arranged for the company Betta Fire Protection to do the inspection. My wife visited the Scout Hall to let their inspectors in. Probably the craziest thing that happened was – supposedly - both emergency light boxes failed, just short of their 90 minute test time. Betta dumped those in the bin:


If anyone knows where we can get these light boxes tested, please get in touch? I have kept them, in case that’s a possibility. Hard to believe two separate light boxes would fail at the same time, just short of the end of the testing period. Circuitry is super basic:


 Betta charged us $365:


For these items:


I hit the roof:


Note that the ‘missing’ kitchen fire blanket subsequently turned up in a kitchen drawer, at the Hall? I took a photo:


Betta then sent another invoice for a further $641. Note that Betta charges $7 to inspect a $9 fire blanket? Nice:


I wrote to Kate Sproule, at Betta. This is pretty much the whole story, up to this point:

Stuart Sproule from Betta responded:


Various back-and-forth emails followed, which I won’t bore you with. But Betta eventually discounted the second invoice and we paid the first one. Then a whole new raft of problems started, with Betta negotiating directly with Kuringai Council as to how the fire certificate should be formatted:


we did our part:


I won’t bore you with the incredible volume of emails between myself, Betta, and Kuringai Council. Keep in mind that most of this sorry affair took place during the worst of the corona virus disaster? Fast forward to the end of 2020, and Betta have not yet issued a certificate that meets with Council’s approval. In September, they tried to flick the blame on to us and said ‘the only way forward is to have another inspection done.’ Beyond disgusting:


Where to from here? We will start with a letter to the NSW Emergency Services Minister (responsible for fire regulations) requesting an intervention. And a claim to NCAT in January 2021. That is of course the Consumer Affairs Tribunal, here in Sydney. We will be requesting an order that Betta produce a fire certificate in the format and manner acceptable to Council. If that doesn’t work, or is delayed by second stage coronavirus, we’ll go to the media. This would make a fantastic story:


A 100 year old Scout group

managed entirely by volunteers

super popular with local children


Currently battling the effects of coronavirus

but trying to stay positive until the crisis passes


being ripped off by people who will say and do anything to make a buck.

Super confident that, should this story be broadcast on one of the current affairs TV shows, that we’d hear plenty of similar stories from Betta’s other clients.

Regular updates to be posted here as things develop and thanks for reading,


Andrew Hestelow

For 1st Wahroonga Cub Scouts


T 0402 07 5000