Important information
for building owners

For many NSW building owners, their first encounter with the Annual Fire Safety Statement process comes in the form of a letter from their local Council requesting they submit an annual statement. What follows can be a daunting and mystifying experience. Understanding what is being committed to when signing the Annual Fire Safety Statement is an important matter for all building owners or their agents. Particularly since new changes were introduced to the legislation in late 2017, in response to a number of high profile fire disasters in buildings across the state.

This is why we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions for building owners, to support you to feel empowered and informed about your legal obligations and understand the importance of choosing a skilled and experienced fire safety professional as your Competent Fire Safety Practitioner under the new legislation.

As part of the construction of a building, a variety of Essential Fire Safety Measures are installed in order to comply with the Building Code of Australia. These may include a range of items such as fire extinguishers, fire hose reels, exit and emergency lighting, fire detection systems and fire sprinkler systems. The measures will be listed in the Fire Safety Schedule of the DA or Construction Certificate.

At the completion of building works, the building owner (or their agent) is required to submit a final Fire Safety Certificate to their local Council before an Occupation Certificate can be issued. This final fire safety certificate is a declaration that each of the specified essential fire safety measures listed in the Fire Safety Schedule have been installed and are capable of operating to their required performance standard.

In preparing this certificate, the building owner/owner’s agent obtains certification from the designers and installers of each safety measure that these standards have been met, for example, AS1670 for fire detection, AS2441 for hose reels, AS2118 for fire sprinklers.

Every twelve months after the building is completed the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2017 requires an Annual Fire Safety Statement be prepared and forwarded to Council, with a copy to the fire brigade and a further copy displayed in the building entry.

Under this new legislation, the Annual Fire Safety Statement must certify that a Competent Fire Safety Practitioner (or multiple practitioners if required) has inspected the building, assessed the fire safety measures, and found that each of the measures is capable of performing to the relevant standard.

The Annual Fire Safety Statement can only be signed by the building owner or owner’s agent and not by anyone else.

Although Councils may or may not send reminder notices regarding statement submission, the onus is on the building owner to ensure this annual statement is submitted by the due date every year.

Although Councils may or may not send reminder notices regarding Annual Fire Safety Statement submission, the onus is on the building owner to ensure the annual statement is submitted by the due date every year.

Provide a copy of the Council notice to Competent Fire Safety Professionals who will prepare a no obligation quote for their competent fire safety practitioner service for you.

If you haven’t already done so, arrange for a fire service provider to inspect and test your essential fire safety measures. These tests will usually be conducted in accordance with AS1851-2012, Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment, AS2293.2-2019, Emergency lighting and exit signs for buildings Routine service and maintenance or other appropriate inspection and testing methodologies.

Obtain from your fire service provider, a Yearly Condition Report, which is a summary report of the results of the inspection and tests completed, details any defects or non-conformances found and any actions undertaken to rectify these defects. This information will be required by your competent fire safety practitioner.

This is generally 12 months from the date of the Final Fire Safety Certificate. If this date is not known, approach your local Council for guidance.

In late 2017, the NSW government introduced a raft of changes to legislation across the building professional industry, following investigations into a series of significant and high profile fire events in NSW buildings.

These reforms, made to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, have been introduced to ensure the compliance of fire safety in new and existing buildings across the state.

The most significant change under the new legislation is that many of the key phases of installing and maintaining a fire safety system, from planning, to construction, to ongoing yearly assessment, must all now be assessed and endorsed by a Competent Fire Safety Practitioner – a new role defining qualified and/or experienced practitioners who have expert skills in fire safety.

Building owners are now required to enlist the services of a Competent Fire Safety Practitioner (CFSP) to conduct an in-depth holistic assessment of the Essential Fire Safety Measures in their building, to ensure that the fire safety equipment meets the performance requirements of the initial installation. This requires a greater level of expertise and more rigorous assessment than routine fire safety inspection and testing.

Engaging a CFSP is now an essential part of submitting an Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS).

The Fire Protection Association of Australia (FPAA) is currently in the early stages of implementing a Government recognised accreditation scheme for Competent Fire Safety Practitioners. It will be mandatory for CFSPs to be accredited via this scheme as “Fire Safety Assessors” from April 2020 onwards.

The FPAA have drafted a set of duties for the role of a Fire Safety Assessor. According to the FPAA’s draft scope of work, it is the responsibility of a Competent Fire Safety Practitioner to:

  • Determine the required standard of performance from the approved design (original approved documents, fire safety schedule, baseline data, or building manual where these are available).
  • Review and compare with routine service records to identify if Essential Fire Safety Measures (EFSM) are capable of operating to the required standard of performance and if any non-conformances or defects have been rectified.
  • Review and verify the specific system interface functionality and operation between EFSM required by Australian Standards, the National Construction Code or legislation in order to consider routine service records holistically.
  • Conduct a visual inspection, or review a report of a visual inspection, undertaken to the degree necessary, to identify if an EFSM has been inappropriately altered or compromised by changes in the occupancy, environment or building in the last 12 months.
  • Review and verify the performance test results obtained through AS 1851-2012 routine service or other routine service methodology, where AS 1851 does not apply.
  • Inspect signage, means of egress, exits, exit doors and discharge from exits.
  • Provide an assessment report to the owner detailing the assessment conducted, findings and recommendations.
  • Provide a declaration that each Essential Fire Safety Measure has been assessed and when assessed was:
    a) Capable of performing to the relevant standard of performance; or
    b) Not capable of performing to the relevant standard of performance.
  • Endorse the assessment for the Annual or Supplementary Fire Safety Statement as per clause 181(j) of the EP&A Regulation.

Under the new legislation, the role of the Competent Fire Safety Practitioner (CFSP) is specially designed to be an additional and more holistic check that encompasses more than your routine fire inspection, testing and maintenance.

The role of a fire service provider is to provide ongoing inspection and testing of Essential Fire Safety Measures to routine service standards. Building owners and/or tenants will usually receive statements in the form of a Yearly Condition Report. These activities form a part of what a CFSP will consider in determining whether each fire safety measure is capable of performing adequately, however, in itself it does not provide the level of detail required under the new legislation to achieve CFSP endorsement.

This is where the services of a Competent Fire Safety Practitioner are needed. The role of the CFSP is to assess the safety of a building holistically and requires a level of investigation, training and expertise that is outside of the scope of standard fire service contracts. A CFSP conducts a detailed assessment to ensure that the fire safety system within a building have been installed, inspected, tested and maintained, and will function in accordance with the original performance standard.

Some fire service providers may offer this additional service, some may not.

NOTE. In assessing competence there is a need to make a distinction between those who maintain fire safety measures by conducting routine servicing, and those who assess and, if needed, test measures for the purposes of enabling the issue of the annual or supplementary fire safety statement. From “Selecting a competent fire safety practitioner, a guide for building owners who must issue fire safety statements”, NSW Department of Planning and Environment 2017.

It is important to be aware that under the new legislation, the onus is on the building owner to determine the competence of their CFSP.

From April 2020, it will be mandatory for Competent Fire Safety Practitioners to be accredited as “Fire Safety Assessors” under the Fire Protection Association of Australia (FPAA).

In the interim, it is up to the building owner to research and select the person or persons they use as their CFSP. This selection process must be documented and may one day need to be justified in a court of law.

This is why it is essential to choose a skilled and experienced Competent Fire Safety Practitioner to endorse your Annual Fire Safety Statement.

The NSW Government has provided a guideline for the selection of a CFSP, which can be downloaded here.

In order to provide a quotation, we will need as a minimum:

  • A copy of your fire safety schedule or Council annual fire safety statement request.
  • A copy of any fire engineering assessment or report related to the building (if applicable).
  1. Usually we’ve completed sections 1-3, 5 and 6 for you. Section 4 is the building owner’s details. The building owner or owner’s agent must complete section 7. For annual fire safety statements, section 8 is not completed. If an agent has completed section 7, the owner must complete section 9. Section 10 is completed by the person submitting the statement. This may also be the owner or the owner’s agent.
  2. Submit a copy to your local Council. They may have requested it from you in the first place. This may be done by mail or possibly electronically. Your Council may also require additional documents to be submitted at their discretion. Contact your local Council for further details.
  3. Submit a copy to Fire & Rescue NSW. Email it to afss@fire.nsw.gov.au.
  4. Prominently display a copy in your building. The recommended place is the entry foyer.

Let Competent Fire Safety Professionals take the pain out of the annual fire safety statement process.

Call us today on 026624700702 6624 7007 or get a quote via our online form.

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