If you own or manage an apartment building or commercial property or work in the field of strata management/body corporate or property development/architect/builder then you need to ensure that your building has adequate fire safety measures.
As a property owner/agent you are held responsible under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 to ensure that the fire safety measures within your building are maintained so that they function and operate in the way in which they were designed and installed in the event of a fire.
The NSW Government has enacted reforms to improve fire safety for both new and existing buildings. The new fire safety requirements fact sheet provides information on how these changes affect those building owners who must issue fire safety statements.
The Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment has approved and published standard fire safety statement forms.
Building owners required to submit these forms must do so using the standard template from 1 December 2017. These forms can be found in the resources section on the right.
The Amending Regulation establishes responsibilities requiring building owners to select and identify practitioners who are competent fire safety practitioners to perform specified fire safety functions. The guide for selecting a competent fire safety practitioner has been developed to assist building owners with their responsibilities.
Fire safety measures are defined as "any measure (including any item of equipment, form of construction or fire safety strategy) that is, or is proposed to be, implemented in a building to ensure the safety of persons using the building in the event of fire".
Fire safety measures will be required when:
- constructing a new building,
- the use of the building changes from one class of building to a different class (i.e. from use as a house to use as an office building),
- as part of a Fire Safety Upgrade (i.e. Council may undertake a fire audit inspection of an existing building and require fire safety measures to be installed within the building).
The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 contains a list of Statutory Fire Safety Measures. However, you may also be required to install additional safety measures that are not included in this list in certain high-risk buildings or where buildings are upgraded.
Fire Safety Measures
Some examples may include:
• Automatic Fire Detection and Alarm Systems
• Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (Sprinklers)
• Emergency Lighting
• Emergency Lifts
• Emergency Warning and Intercommunication Systems
• Exit Signs
• Fire Doors
• Fire Hydrant Systems
• Fire Windows
• Hose Reel Systems
• Mechanical Air Handling Systems
• Perimeter Vehicle Access for Emergency Vehicles
• Portable Fire Extinguishers
• Smoke and Heat Detectors
• Smoke Doors
• Solid Core Doors
• Wall wetting Sprinkler and Drencher Systems
• Warning and Operational Signs
The installation of fire safety measures will depend on the classification of the building (the use of the building) as determined under the Building Code of Australia. Council or an Accredited Certifier will attach a schedule to the approval associated with a change in use or new building work detailing the required fire safety measures. In the case of a safety audit Council will also detail the list of required measures.
The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 requires that a property owner must maintain each essential fire safety measure in their respective building. The owner is required to issue an Annual Fire Safety Statement to the effect that each essential fire safety measure has been assessed by a competent fire safety practitioner and was found when it was assessed, to be capable of performing to the installation and design performance.
The assessment and inspection of the essential fire safety measures must have been carried out within the period of 3 months prior to the date on which the annual statement is issued. The choice of the competent fire safety practitioner to carry out an assessment or inspection rests with the property owner.
The property owner is required to display the Annual Fire Safety Statement in a prominent location in the building. The owner is also required to provide copies of the statement to Council and the Fire Commissioner.
There are penalties for not complying with the fire safety provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. These are:
Owner not display copy of final fire safety certificate
- Individual $1,500
- Corporation $3,000
Owner Fail to supply Annual Fire Safety Statement within 1 week
- Individual $1,000
- Corporation $1,000
Owner Fail to supply Annual Fire Safety Statement within 2 weeks
- Individual $2,000
- Corporation $2,000
Owner Fail to supply Annual Fire Safety Statement within 3 weeks
- Individual $3,000
- Corporation $3,000
Owner Fail to supply Annual Fire Safety Statement within 4 weeks
- Individual $4,000
- Corporation $4,000
Owner not display Annual Fire Safety Statement
- Individual $580
- Corporation $580
Owner fail to maintain essential fire safety measures
- Individual $3,000
- Corporation $6,000
An interim fire safety certificate or a final fire safety certificate is required before:
- an interim occupation certificate can be issued to allow a partially completed new building (including an altered portion of, or extension to, a new building) to be occupied or used, or
- an interim occupation certificate can be issued to allow a change of building use for part of an existing building.
A final fire safety certificate is required:
- before a final occupation certificate can be issued to allow a new building (including an altered portion of, or extension to, a new building) to be occupied or used, or
- before a final occupation certificate can be issued to allow a change of building use for an existing building, or in accordance with a fire safety order given by a Council.