The Fire Safety Audit Program is in place to ensure buildings within Willoughby meet an acceptable level of fire safety. This is in order to prevent and suppress fire, increase the safety of people in the event of a fire, and to make sure that the maintenance and use of a building do not constitute a fire hazard.
Some buildings may need to be upgraded in order to comply. The owner of the building will be advised of a fire audit inspection, which will carry a fee. Building design and the level of risk will vary from case to case and influence the upgrade requirements, priorities and expenses.
The owner is responsible for complying with an order. Once upgrade work is complete the owner will need to submit a Final Fire Safety Certificate to certify that the building has been inspected by a qualified person and performs to the relevant minimum performance standard.
Priority is given to the buildings that pose the greatest risk to human life due to the way they are used and the number of people using it (for example, boarding houses or multi-residential flat buildings). The level of fire safety may also be brought to Council’s attention through the approval of building works, a change in building use, or due to a complaint.
What’s the process?
A letter will be sent to the owner or their agent advising them of the fire audit inspection. This preliminary inspection will be conducted by Council’s Fire Safety Officer. The inspection fee is $110 (per hour or part thereof).
Upgrading is likely to be required if, following the inspection, Council’s opinion is that:
(a) Provisions for fire safety or fire safety awareness are not adequate to prevent fire, suppress fire or prevent the spread of fire or ensure or promote the safety of persons in the event of fire
(b) Maintenance or use of the premises constitutes a significant fire hazard
If upgrading is required Council will serve the owner of the building a Fire Safety Notice and attached will be a draft Fire Safety Order. The draft order will indicate a schedule of works to be carried out within a specified time period.
An assessment report of the building by an independent and qualified building consultant or fire safety engineer may also be required by Council. This report must compare the level of fire safety in the building against the current requirements of the Building Code of Australia. If there are deficiencies in fire safety the report must make recommendations on how to achieve acceptable levels of fire protection.
Building design and the level of risk will be different in each case and accordingly the upgrade requirements, fire safety priorities and associated upgrade expenses will vary. In many cases it is not practical to achieve strict compliance with current requirements of the Building Code of Australia. Assessment using the Performance Clauses of the Building Code of Australia may provide a means of determining that an acceptable level of fire safety can be provided.
Any necessary reinspection carries a fee of $110 (per hour or part thereof).
Alternatively you may wish to engage the services of a suitably qualified fire consultant to carry out the preliminary inspection,.
Who is responsible?
The owner of the building is responsible for complying with an order. Where there is more than one owner, Council may direct each owner to carry out the works specified in the order.
When work is required as a result of a change of use brought about by a new tenant, owners sometimes expect the tenant to meet the cost of the fire safety work. If this is the case any question about who is to meet the cost of work is a matter for the owner and tenant to resolve, but the law states that the final responsibility rests with the building owner.
The importance of adequate fire safety measures are reflected in severe penalties which can be imposed when the work listed in a fire safety order is not carried out.
Fire Safety Register
Once upgrading works are completed, the owner will be required to submit a Final Fire Safety Certificate for all fire safety certifying that the building has been inspected by a properly qualified person and found to be capable of performing to the relevant minimum performance standard (Building Code of Australia/Australian Standard). There is a $33 fee. The certificate must be forwarded to Council (who maintain a register for fire safety statements and fire safety certificates) and the NSW Fire Brigade, and a copy is to be prominently displayed in the building. This process must be repeated annually with the Annual Fire Safety Statement.