Essential fire safety measures are measures, including equipment, construction and strategies, that are implemented in a building to ensure safety in the event of fire. The most common measures include:
How do I know what needs to be installed in my building?
All Class 2 to Class 9 buildings which are subject to a building approval, construction certificate, complying development certificate or a fire safety notice or order by the council after 1 July 1988 are automatically subject to the essential fire safety services requirements.
Class 2 to Class 9 buildings include:
- Residential flat buildings
- Certain dual occupancies and townhouse developments
- Shops and restaurants
- Office and commercial buildings
- Industrial buildings
- Public assembly buildings
- Nursing homes
- Places of shared accommodation
- Places of public entertainment
The specific measures for each building will be listed as a schedule in the fire safety order or with the construction or complying development certificate.
As the owner of the building, am I required to do anything?
For existing buildings:
If there are essential fire safety measures installed in your building, and you intend to carry out building work, change the use of the building for which approval is required, have been issued with a Fire Safety Order; or continue occupying the building, you will be required to engage a properly qualified person to check the design standards to which those measures were installed. After this, a Fire Safety Certificate is to be completed, signed by you or your agent, and forwarded to Council.
For new buildings (to be constructed):
If you intend to construct a new building a Construction Certificate is required. The Construction Certificate must have a fire safety schedule attached where fire safety measures are required. The fire safety schedule will nominate those essential fire safety measures and the Australian Standard and/or other standards to which they must be installed.
For new buildings prior to occupation:
Before the Principal Certifying Authority can issue an Occupation Certificate for the building, the owner or agent must issue an Interim or Final Fire Safety Certificate stating that the services have been inspected by a properly qualified person and installed to the relevant standards.
Prior to the occupation of a new building or part of a building and upon completing works required under a Council Fire Safety Order, a Fire Safety Certificate is required to be submitted to the Council. The owner of a building must also submit a fire safety statement to the Council on an annual basis.
What is a Fire Safety Certificate?
A Fire Safety Certificate is a type of certificate submitted by or on behalf of the building owner, which in effect certifies that the specified essential fire safety measures have been installed and perform in accordance with the relevant Building Code of Australia requirements and Australian Standards.
Final/Interim Fire Safety Certificate
What is an Annual Fire Safety Statement?
A Fire Safety Statement is similar to the Fire Safety Certificate and it in effect states that each essential fire safety measures has been assessed by a properly qualified person and was found, when it was assessed, to be capable of performing: to a standard no less than that specified in a schedule or, where not mentioned in a schedule, to a standard no less than that to which the measure was originally designed and implemented.
Every twelve months after the Fire Safety Certificate is issued, an Annual Fire Safety Statement must be prepared and forwarded to Council. The Annual Fire Safety Statements must certify that a properly qualified person has inspected the building, assessed the fire safety measures, and found that the measure is capable of performing to the relevant Standard. Lodgement of the statement carries a $50 fee.
Annual Fire Safety Statement
What is a Supplementary Fire Safety Statement?
A supplementary statement is for critical fire safety measures only. These are measures that are important enough to warrant certification on a more frequent basis of less than 12 months, such as every three months. The critical measures are identified in the Fire Safety Schedule and the intervals at which Supplementary Fire Safety Statements are required are also nominated in the Schedule.
Supplementary Fire Safety Statement
Who is responsible for certification?
The owner of the building must forward copies of certificates and the annual Statement and the current fire safety schedule to the NSW Fire Brigades. These documents are also to be prominently displayed in the building.
The relevant provisions regarding fire safety certificates and statements can be found in Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.
When is an annual fire safety statement due?
A fire safety statement must be obtained on an annual basis, from the date on which the initial Fire Safety Certificate (formerly known as a Form 6 or Form 15 certificate) was obtained and submitted to Council in response to building approval, construction certificate, complying development certificate or fire safety order.
If a fire safety statement has not been submitted to Council on an annual basis from the date of the initial fire safety certificate and has not been submitted to Council within the past 12 months, it is now overdue and must be obtained and submitted to Council as soon as possible.
Who assesses the standard of performance?
The building owner must have the inspection carried out by a person who is qualified to assess the particular items concerned.
Who completes the certificates and statements?
The Fire Safety Certificates and annual Fire Safety Statements can only be signed by the owner or his agent and not by the "properly qualified" person or persons.
What should I do now?
It is important that building owners are aware of these fire safety requirements. Failure to comply with these requirements is an offence and the owner will face substantial penalties. But more importantly, a failure to meet these requirements can significantly affect the fire safety of the occupants of the building, which may then threaten their lives as well as having significant liability implications for the building owner.
Building owners need to be aware of the date on which the fire safety statement must be submitted to the Council, and to make the necessary arrangements for the fire safety measures to be inspected and certified prior to the due date.
To arrange for the essential fire safety services to be inspected and to obtain a fire safety statement, owners are advised to employ the services of a professional building and fire safety consultant. In this regard, it is important that your consultant is suitably qualified and fully aware of the relevant legislative and Building Code of Australia requirements.
In the case of residential flat buildings or other strata buildings, the owner's corporation is advised to make prior arrangements, including the allocation of funds, for a building and fire safety consultant to inspect the premises and to provide the required certification upon the due date annually.
What penalty provisions may apply?
Failure to comply with these requirements is an offence and Council may issue a penalty infringement notice if the essential fire safety services are not fully maintained ($1500) or if the annual fire safety statement requirements are not complied with ($600). Council may also serve a fire safety notice and order requiring compliance with these fire safety requirements.
Should you require any further information in relation to these important fire safety requirements please contact Council, or alternatively, please contact your own building and fire safety consultant.