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Fire Safety Issues

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.

What are fire safety measures?

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.

Installation of fire safety measures

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.

Maintenance of Essential Fire Safety 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 statement to the effect that each essential fire safety measure has been assessed by a properly qualified person 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 person 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.

The commencement of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 replaced previous regulations that controlled fire safety matters.  The current legislation refers to the "Annual Fire Safety Statement" not "Form 15A" which was previously familiar to building practitioners and property owners.  Council will continue to use a similar form to ensure compliance with the relevant legislative requirements.

Fire Safety Statement - Annual
Fire Safety Statement - Annual

Penalties

There are penalties for not complying with the fire safety provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. These are:

 

Owner

Failure to display final fire safety certificate        

$100.00

Owner Failure to provide annual fire safety statement $600.00
Owner Failure to display annual fire safety statement $100.00
Owner Failure to maintain essential fire safety measures $1500.00


Statutory Fire Safety Measures

Access Panels, Doors and Hoppers to Fire Resisting Shafts

 

  • Automatic Fire Detection and Alarm Systems
  • Automatic Fail Safe Devices
  • Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (Sprinklers)
  • Emergency Lighting
  • Emergency Lifts
  • Emergency Warning and Intercommunication Systems
  • Exit Signs
  • Fire Control Centres and Rooms
  • Fire Dampers
  • Fire Doors
  • Fire Hydrant Systems
  • Fire Seals Protecting Openings in Fire Resisting Components of the Building
  • Fire Shutters
  • Fire Windows
  • Hose Reel Systems
  • Lightweight Construction
  • Mechanical Air Handling Systems
  • Perimeter Vehicle Access for Emergency Vehicles
  • Portable Fire Extinguishers
  • Safety Curtains in Proscenium Openings
  • Smoke and Heat Detectors
  • Smoke Doors
  • Solid Core Doors
  • Stand-by Power Systems
  • Wall wetting Sprinkler and Drencher Systems
  • Warning and Operational Signs

Final/Interim Fire Safety Certificate

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.

Final/Interim Fire Safety Certificate
Final/Interim Fire Safety Certificate