Building owners should be aware that a new regulation to the Environmental Protection and Assessment Act 1979 came into force on 1 January 2022 which outlines some mandatory fire safety obligations.
If a building has Essential Fire Safety Measures in place, building owners are required to submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement each year to their Local Council and to the Fire Safety Commissioner with a declaration that such Essential Fire Safety Measures have been carried out.
Failure to comply with these mandatory fire safety obligations is an offence, and parties in breach are liable to penalty notices (maximum fines of up to $44,000 for individuals and $88,000 for corporations).
So that Building Owners can comply with their obligations under the new regulation, it is important to go back to basics and understand the Essential Fire Safety Measures that apply to their building and where to find that information.
Building owners are encouraged to locate the Fire Safety Certificate and Fire Safety Schedule for their building to ascertain the specific “Essential Fire Safety Measures” applicable to their building.
What is a Fire Safety Certificate?
A Fire Safety Certificate is a certificate that is prepared by a Building Owner upon the completion of new building work or when an existing building has changed its permitted use. A certifier is unable to issue an occupation certificate unless a final Fire Safety Certificate has first been issued for the building.
The Fire Safety Certificate contains assurances from a building owner that certain “Essential Fire Safety Measures” have been or will be implemented, as well as a declaration from a Building Owner that they have had a properly qualified person check over the “Essential Fire Safety Measures” of the building.
Examples of such measures include:
- Automatic fire detection and alarm systems
- Emergency lighting
- Emergency exit signs and evacuation plans
- Fire hose reel systems
- Fire windows
- Portable Fire extinguishers
- Smoke detectors and heat detector systems
- Wall-wetting sprinkler and drencher systems
Where can Building Owners find a copy of the Fire Safety Schedule?
Building Owners should be able to find a copy of a building’s Fire Safety Schedule attached to the relevant Development Consent, Construction Certificate or fire safety order. If a Building Owner cannot locate these documents, a copy can be requested from the fire safety officer at their local council.
Should the local council not have a copy of the Fire Safety Schedule, a building owner may be able to request council to complete a site inspection and generate one.
A Building Owner is required under the new regulation to maintain each of the “Essential Fire Safety Measures” that is outlined for the building in the fire safety schedule.
When is a Fire Safety Certificate Issued?
A Building Owner is to complete and issue a Fire Safety Certificate within 3 months after a properly qualified person has carried out an assessment.
As soon as practicable after the Fire Safety Certificate is issued for the building, the owner must give a copy to the Fire Commissioner along with the building’s current Fire Safety Schedule. The owner must also ensure a copy of the certificate and current fire safety schedule are prominently displayed within the building.
Where can the Fire Safety Certificate be found if the Owner is unsure they have one?
A copy of a building’s Fire Safety Certificate is required to be issued along with the current Fire Safety Schedule to the Fire Commissioner. This involves emailing Fire and Rescue NSW.
Along with this, a Fire Safety Certificate is required to be prominently displayed in a building after its issue.
If a building owner is unsure if they have a Fire Safety Certificate, they should contact Fire and Rescue NSW.
Why is it important to have a copy of your Fire Safety Certificate?
It is crucial for a building owner to know of their Fire Safety Certificate and the Essential Fire Safety Measures that should be effectively implemented within the building.
Under the new regulation, heavy fines may be issued to Building Owners who fail to submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement each year to their Local Council and to the Fire Safety Commissioner. This Annual Fire Safety Statement must include a declaration that an accredited fire safety practitioner has in the previous 3 months inspected the Essential Fire Safety Measures of the building.
If you are unsure of your buildings Essential Fire Safety Measures or how to complete an Annual Fire Safety Statement, Keystone Lawyers can assist in reviewing your Fire Safety Schedule and informing you of your legal obligations under the new Environmental Planning and Assessment (Development Certification and Fire Safety) Regulation.