Essential fire safety measures are any installations or type of construction that have been incorporated into the building to ensure the safety of the occupants within the building in the event of fire or other emergency, and may include such measures as:
- Automatic fire suppression systems (e.g. sprinkler systems)
- Fire hose reels
- Fire hydrants
- Automatic fire detection and alarm systems
- Fire doors
- Fire extinguishers
- Smoke exhaust systems
- Exit signs
- Emergency lighting
The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 contains a list of statutory fire safety measures that may be installed in a building. There may be some other measures, equipment or forms of construction that are not listed, which can be included for the purpose of ensuring the safety of persons in a building in the event of fire.
What is installed in my building?
Upon approval of a development for Class 2-9 buildings (as defined under the Building Code of Australia, which are essentially any building other than a single residence or residential outbuilding such as a pool or carport) a Fire Safety Schedule is issued (generally with the Construction Certificate). This Fire Safety Schedule lists all the Essential Fire Safety Measures that are installed in the building and the performance standard to which each of those measures must be capable of operating. A Fire Safety Schedule can be issued with a Construction Certificate, Complying Development Certificate, or for existing buildings may have been issued with the building approval. A Fire Safety Schedule may also be issued if Council conducts a fire safety audit of the premises.
A Fire Safety Schedule will be issued with the Construction Certificate. The Fire Safety Schedule will list the essential fire safety measures that are to be installed in the building or on the land and the Australian and/or other Standards to which they must be installed and maintained.
Prior to occupation of the building a Fire Safety Certificate must be issued.
What is a Fire Safety Certificate?
A Fire Safety Certificate is certificate that is submitted by the building owner, which certifies that each of the specified essential fire safety measures listed in the Fire Safety Schedule have been installed in the building or on the land and that those measures are capable of operating to the performance standard listed in the Fire Safety Schedule.
A Fire Safety Certificate must be submitted prior to the issue of an Occupation Certificate.
Download a blank Fire Safety Certificate
Subsequently, an Annual Fire Safety Statement must then be issued every year (see below)
Every year the owner of a building must submit to Council an Annual Fire Safety Statement which certifies that each of the measures listed in the most recent Fire Safety Schedule are still installed in the building or on the land, and they remain capable of operating to the Standard listed in the Schedule.
What is an annual fire safety statement?
An Annual Fire Safety Statement states that each essential fire safety measure installed in the building or on the land 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 the most recent Fire Safety Schedule.
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 Statement 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.
Download a blank Annual Fire Safety Statement
Who is responsible for certification?
Under the requirements of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, the owner of the building must ensure that each of the measures have been assessed by a properly qualified person, and then forward a copy of the Annual Fire Safety Statement or Fire Safety Certificate to Council and the NSW Fire Brigades. A copy of the statement or certificate must also be prominently displayed in the building.
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.
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 a Building Approval, Construction Certificate, Complying Development Certificate, fire safety order or Development Consent.
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 submitted to Council as soon as possible to avoid a fine and/or legal action.
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 will render the owner liable to substantial penalties. But more importantly, a failure to meet these requirements can significantly affect the levels of fire safety afforded to the occupants of the building, which may threaten their life safety, 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 Council, 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 measures 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 Owners’ 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 happens if I don’t submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement?
Failure to comply with these requirements is an offence under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and Council may either pursue a penalty through the Court system, or issue a penalty infringement notice (‘on-the-spot fine’) if the essential fire safety measures are not fully maintained or if the Annual Fire Safety Statement requirements are not complied with. Council may also serve a fire safety order requiring compliance with these fire safety requirements.
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