Fire safety is the responsibility of all property owners, property managers, tenants, and business operators who own, occupy or manage various types of residential, commercial, retail and industrial premises.
It is the responsibility of the building owner to ensure that:
To demonstrate that the measures have been maintained and are operating effectively the owner of the building is required to lodge an Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) to both Council and Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW).
An Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) is a statement issued by or on behalf of the owner of a building to the effect that—
(a) Each essential fire safety measure specified in the statement has been assessed by an Accredited Practitioner (fire safety) and was found, when it was assessed, to be capable of performing—
(i) In the case of an essential fire safety measure applicable by virtue of a fire safety schedule, to a standard no less than that specified in the schedule, or
(ii) In the case of an essential fire safety measure applicable otherwise than by virtue of a fire safety schedule, to a standard no less than that to which the measure was originally designed and implemented, and
(b) The building has been inspected by an Accredited Practitioner (fire safety) and was found, when it was inspected, to be in a condition that did not disclose any grounds for a prosecution under Division 7 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.
The general process is that every year the building owner will engage an Accredited Practitioner (fire safety) that holds the appropriate level/s of accreditation to:
The AFSS for a building must:
There is no requirement to submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) for single dwelling houses classified as 1a under the Building Code of Australia. Typically, Class 1a refers to single dwelling houses, terraces or villa houses.
Who can assess fire safety measures for an annual fire safety statement or supplementary fire safety statement?
Only Accredited Practitioners (fire safety) who hold current accreditation under an approved industry accreditation scheme. The practitioner must be accredited to assess each of the measures listed on the Fire Safety Schedule.
Visit the FPAA for a register of accredited practitioners.
Where required under legislation to provide a statement, the owner is responsible to ensure lodgement, regardless as to whether the property is tenanted or vacant.
Please consider the following:
All fire safety measures listed on the annual fire safety statement and fire safety schedule including egress paths and exits must be maintained at all times even when the building becomes vacant.
Maintaining the fire safety measures and ongoing maintenance will promote the safety of persons who are nearby the premises or who access vacant buildings (e.g. security, Fire and Rescue NSW, police, building owners, Council staff, real estate agents, etc.).
A fire safety schedule will be issued with the Construction Certificate listing the essential fire safety measures that are to be installed in the building. A fire safety certificate must be submitted prior to the issue of an Occupation Certificate. This certifies that each of the specified essential fire safety measures are capable of operating to the performance listed in the fire safety schedule. Subsequently, annual fire safety statements must then be submitted to Council and Fire and Rescue NSW as well as prominently displayed within the building every year.
Old buildings and buildings built before current Building Code of Australia standards are not exempt from fire safety requirements, and it is the obligation of the owner to ensure that sufficient fire safety measures are in place.
It is necessary for owners to work with Council to achieve acceptable fire safety compliance and to undertake voluntary upgrades as needed by engaging the services of private fire safety consultants and engineers.
Where current BCA compliance is not achievable without substantial demolition and/or redevelopment, alternative solutions may be proposed to Council by accredited professionals who have undertaken a detailed assessment of the building.
Fire safety schedules list the measures required to be installed within the building and the standard they need to achieve. A fire safety schedule can be issued:
A fire safety schedule is only applicable if any of the above occurred after 1988.
A final Fire Safety Certificate is a certificate which is issued once the installation of new essential fire safety measures – either as a result of a fire order or new building construction works – have been completed.
The certificate is supplied to Council as part of a fire order upgrade or as part of an Occupation Certificate application prior to the occupation of a building.
A final fire safety certificate is only required:
• Before the issue of an Occupation Certificate under clause 153 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000; or
• If a fire safety order has been issued in relation to a building or premises.
A copy of the fire safety certificate is also to be forwarded to Fire and Rescue NSW and a copy must be prominently displayed in the building.
Essential fire safety measures are any measures that are installed in a building to ensure the safety of persons using the building in the event of fire. The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 contains a list of statutory fire safety measures that may have been incorporated into the building, including:
The Building Code of Australia (BCA) specifies when the installation of essential fire safety measures are required.
The Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2005 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006 commenced in NSW on 1 May 2006. The legislation refers to residential and certain shared accommodation across NSW and requires:
The following types of residential and shared accommodation must have a minimum of one working smoke alarm on each level of the property:
As part of its internal fire safety upgrading program, Council may, at any time, assess the fire safety level of an existing building and if it is considered necessary, order the owner/s to carry out upgrading works and install essential fire safety measures compatible to the building use.
If you have existing essential fire safety measures in your building and:
A suitably qualified competent person should be engaged in order to research and verify the design standards to which those measures were originally installed. Once this has been undertaken, verification in the form of a fire safety audit report is to be included with the development application.
Assuming approval is granted, Council will nominate (via either consent conditions and/or a fire safety schedule), any additional essential fire safety measures required in the building and the appropriate design standard to which they must be installed.
If you intend to construct a new building, approval is required. Forming part of any Construction Certificate that is issued, Council or a private certifier will nominate the essential fire safety measures required and the design standards to which they must be installed in the Fire Safety Schedule.
As a building owner, you are responsible for ensuring your premises are maintained, safe for occupation and that essential fire safety measures are in working order.
Owners of certain buildings with external combustible cladding are required to register their building with the NSW Government through its cladding registration online portal.
For further information on actions taken by the NSW Government, details on external wall cladding and next steps for property owners/occupiers, please visit the NSW Fair Trading website.