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 Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety) 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 confirm that an Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety) (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.
Provide a copy of the Council notice to Competent Fire Safety Professionals who will prepare a no obligation quote for their Fire Safety Assessor 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, Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment, AS2293.2, 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 Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety).
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 an Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety), (formerly Competent Fire Safety Practitioner) – a new role defining qualified and/or experienced practitioners who have expert skills in fire safety.
As of July 1 2020, building owners are required to enlist the services of a Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety) – (APFS) 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 an Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety) is now an essential part of submitting an Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS).
The Fire Protection Association of Australia (FPAA) has established a Government recognised accreditation scheme for Fire Safety Practitioners. It is now mandatory for an Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety) – APFS, (formerly known as Competent Fire Safety Practitioner – CFSP), to be accredited via this scheme as “Fire Safety Assessors” for the endorsement of Annual Fire Safety Statements.
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 an Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety) 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.
From 1 July 2020, it is mandatory for all Accredited Practitioners (Fire Safety) to be accredited as “Fire Safety Assessors” under the Fire Protection Association of Australia (FPAA).
The FPAA have established a FPAS Fire Safety Assessment Accredited Practitioner Register on their website here, including Competent Fire Safety Professionals’ director Chris Honey.
It is important when choosing an APFS to ensure that the individual holds accreditation for each of the Essential Fire Safety Measures in the building. Whilst the APFS has a responsibility to act conscionably and not undertake activities that they are not accredited to do, the onus of responsibility for ensuring this remains with the building owner. The Essential Fire Safety Measures an individual holds accreditation for can be viewed by visiting the register and clicking the arrow next to the practitioner’s name.
Chris Honey holds unrestricted accreditation.
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).
- Usually we’ve completed sections 1, 2, 4, 5 & 6 for you. Section 3 is the building owner’s details. The person issuing the statement (usually the owner) must complete section 7. For annual fire safety statements, section 8 is completed by the owner or the owner’s agent.
- 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 about their submission requirements.
- Submit a copy to Fire & Rescue NSW. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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.