Owners of buildings such as commercial or industrial premises and residential flat buildings etc, have a legal obligation to ensure that all fire safety measures installed on the premises are maintained in good working condition at all times. This is a requirement under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.
FIRE SAFETY - NSW
The NSW Government introduced reforms through the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 to strengthen fire safety certification for new and existing buildings.
These reforms aim to improve the rigour and checking in the design, approval, construction and maintenance phases of the building life cycle.
Further information can be found on the NSW Government Website -
To assist building owners and practitioners apply the requirements of the Regulation relating to fire safety statements, the Department has published a range of frequently asked questions.
The frequently asked questions also provide a high-level overview of some important components of the NSW legislation relating to fire safety in existing buildings.
Fire safety certificate
A fire safety certificate is a document issued by or on behalf of the building owner(s) upon the completion of new building work.
The certificate confirms that each of the fire safety measures that apply to a building (as listed in the fire safety schedule) have been installed and checked by a properly qualified person. This process helps verify that the required fire safety measures can perform to the minimum standard.
A fire safety certificate must be issued using a standard template form published by the NSW Government.
Fire Safety Certificate form https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/Buildings/Safety-reforms/Fire-safety
What is a fire safety measure?
Fire safety measures include items of equipment, forms of construction or fire safety strategies that are provided in a building to ensure the safety of persons using the building in the event of fire. It can include items such as portable fire extinguishers, fire hydrants, fire sprinklers, fire detection and alarm systems and lightweight construction. Fire safety measures include both essential fire safety measures and critical fire safety measures as defined in clause 165 of the Regulation.
Essential fire safety measures are often identified in the building’s fire safety schedule, where a schedule was required to be issued, or they could be included in the essential services list attached to an approval or order issued under the Local Government Act 1919 or the Local Government Act 1993. Essential fire safety measures are the fire safety measures that form part of an annual fire safety statement.
Critical fire safety measures are the fire safety measures that are of a nature or installed in a manner which requires periodic assessment and inspection at intervals of less than 12 months. These measures are specifically identified on the fire safety schedule and form part of a supplementary fire safety statement. A critical fire safety measure is also an essential fire safety measure.
Who inspects my premises?
The owner must ensure that a qualified competent fire safety practitioner inspects each fire safety measure. The choice of person to carry out an assessment or inspection is up to the owner. The person who carries out an assessment must inspect and verify the performance of each fire safety measure being assessed.
All paperwork provided by your service provider is for the owner only and does not need to be lodged with the council. It is important that records of inspections are kept by the owner.
What is a competent fire safety practitioner?
A competent fire safety practitioner is a person who is competent to perform fire safety assessment functions required by the Regulation. The Department of Customer Service has established a co-regulatory framework to recognise industry accreditation schemes for competent fire safety practitioners.
The first accreditation scheme is expected to become operational in January 2020 and when this occurs, a building owner will be able to select a competent fire safety practitioner from a register of accredited practitioners (if that practitioner is required to be accredited). Further information about the accreditation schemes can be found on the ‘Fire safety practitioners’ page of the NSW Fair Trading website at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.
Until the accreditation scheme commences, or if a practitioner is of a class of persons that is not required to be accredited, it is the responsibility of the building owner to determine and document that a person is a competent fire safety practitioner (clause 167A(4)(b) of the Regulation). The Department has developed guidance material to assist building owners in this process. The guide Selecting a competent fire safety practitioner – A guide for building owners who must issue annual fire safety statements is available on the ‘Fire safety’ page of the Department’s website.
Annual Fire Safety Statement
Each year, the owner of a building to which an essential fire safety measure is applicable must submit to the council an annual fire safety statement for the building.
An annual fire safety statement is a declaration by or on behalf of a building owner that a competent fire safety practitioner (CFSP) has:
• assessed, inspected and verified the performance of each existing essential fire safety measure that applies to the building, and
• inspected the exit systems serving the building and found that the exit systems within the building do not contravene the provisions of Division 7 of Part 9 of the Regulation.
A building owner must ensure that an annual fire safety statement for the building is issued each year and that a copy of the statement is provided to the local council and Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW.
The statement confirms that a competent fire safety practitioner has assessed, inspected and verified the performance of each fire safety measure that applies to the building.
There are two types of fire safety statements:
An annual fire safety statement must be issued each year and include all the essential fire safety measures that apply to a building. The statement also verifies that a competent fire safety practitioner has inspected and confirmed that the exit systems in the building are in compliance with the Regulation.
A supplementary fire safety statement is issued at more regular intervals (as specified in the fire safety schedule) for any critical fire safety measures that apply to a building.
A fire safety statement must be issued using a standard template form published by the NSW Government.
Fire Safety Statement form https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/Buildings/Safety-reforms/Fire-safety
To assist owners in providing a fire safety statement on time, in the correct detail and reducing the risk of incurring a penalty infringement notice, council offers a reminder service. This service provides building owners and or their managing agents (eg, strata manager/real estate agent) with:
- Reminder letters.
- A partially completed statement for your completion and return.
- An acknowledgement letter.
- Advice of any changes to the fire safety schedule applicable for the premises.
- Technical/regulatory advice where possible.
- Where necessary, copies of relevant documentation, including relevant legislation.
Pay for my reminder service
How do I lodge my annual statement?
It must be submitted within 12 months after the date on which the previous statement or the final fire certificate was given, and it must be lodged within three months of the date of inspection and assessment.
The statement must be submitted to council with a copy being sent to Fire and Rescue NSW at email@example.com (contact phone 9742 7400).
Council's copy of the statement can be lodged at the Customer Service Counter or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happens if I don't submit an annual fire safety statement?
Council treats fire safety issues seriously. Where required under legislation to provide a statement, the owner is responsible to ensure lodgement, regardless of whether the property is tenanted or vacant. As an owner, please consider:
- Incomplete or late fire safety statements may result in a fine.
- If this statement is not completed satisfactorily, you will be required to submit a corrected statement.
- Fines can be imposed for failing to provide an annual/supplementary fire safety statement and range from $1,00 to $4,000.
- If a fine is issued, it will not excuse you from the need to submit a fire safety statement.
- If you fail to meet your statutory requirements, council may take legal action against you and/or may continue to issue on-the-spot fines.
- Failure to maintain essential fire safety measures (which is a separate offence) can also result in a fine; the penalty in this instance is $3,000.
Enquiries can be directed to Fire and Building Safety Officer on 9710 0333 or email@example.com