Under the provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, prior to the occupation of a new building or part of a building and upon completion of works required under a Council Fire Safety Order, a Fire Safety Certificate is required to be submitted to Council. The owner/s of a building must also submit a Fire Safety Statement to Council on an annual basis.
A copy of the Fire Safety Certificate and Annual Fire Safety Statement is required to be displayed within the building in a conspicuous position and a copy is also required to be forwarded to the New South Wales Fire Brigades. Essential fire safety services encompass a number of fire safety measures to be carried out within a building or premises. Examples of these services include:
Other services are listed within the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 .
What is a Fire Safety Certificate?
A Fire Safety Certificate is a certificate that is submitted by the buildings owner/manager, which certifies that each of the specified essential fire safety measures listed in the Fire Safety Schedule have been installed in the building or on the land and that those measures are capable of operating to the performance standard listed in the Fire Safety Schedule.
What is an Annual Fire Safety Statement?
An Annual Fire Safety Statement states that each essential fire safety measure installed in the building or on the land has been assessed by a properly qualified person and was found, when it was assessed, to be capable of performing to a standard no less than that specified in the most recent Fire Safety Schedule.
Every twelve (12) months after the Fire Safety Certificate is issued, an Annual Fire Safety Statement must be prepared and forwarded to Council. The Annual Fire Safety Statement must certify that a properly qualified person has inspected the building, assessed the fire safety measures, and found that the measure is capable of performing to the relevant standard.
When is a building or premises subject to these requirements?
All Class 2 to Class 9 buildings, which are subject to a building approval, construction certificate, complying development certificate or a fire safety notice or order by the Council, after 1 July 1998, are automatically subject to the essential fire safety services requirements. These include:
residential flat buildings;
certain dual occupancies;
shops and restaurants;
public assembly buildings;
industrial buildings and warehouses;
places of shared accommodation;
places of public entertainment.
New buildings will have a Fire Safety Schedule issued with the construction certificate. The Fire Safety Schedule will list the essential fire safety measures that are to be installed in the building or on the land and the Australian and/or other Standards to which they must be installed. A Fire Safety Certificate must be issued prior to the occupation of a building.
Existing buildings may not currently be subject to these requirements; however, many of these buildings will be subject to a development consent, construction certificate or fire safety order at a future date which may incorporate these requirements.
Every year the owner/managers of a building must submit to Council an Annual Fire Safety Statement which certifies that each of the measures listed in the most recent Fire Safety Schedule are still installed in the building or on the land and they remain capable of operating to the Standard listed in the Schedule.
How do I find out what is installed in my building?
Upon approval of a development for Class 2-9 buildings (as defined under the Building Code of Australia) a Fire Safety Schedule is issued, generally with the Construction Certificate. This Fire Safety Schedule lists all the essential fire safety measures that are currently existing or are to be installed in the building and the performance standard to which each of those measures must be capable of operating. A Fire Safety Schedule can be issued with a development consent, construction certificate or complying development certificate. A Fire Safety Schedule may also be issued if Council conducts a fire safety audit of the premises. In some cases, existing buildings may already have a Fire Safety Schedule issued with a building application prior to 1997.
Who is responsible for Certification?
The owner of the building must ensure that each essential fire safety measure has been assessed by a suitably qualified person and that copies of the certificates, the Annual Statement and the current Fire Safety Schedule have been forwarded to the NSW Fire Brigade and that a copy is prominently displayed in the building.
Failure to comply with fire safety requirements is an offence and Council may issue a penalty infringement notice (on the spot fine) if the essential fire safety services are not fully maintained or if the Annual Fire Safety Statement submission requirements are not complied with. Council may also serve a Fire Safety Notice and an Order requiring compliance with these fire safety requirements.
The relevant provisions regarding Fire Safety Certificates and Statements can be found in Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 .
What should I do now?
It is important that building owners are aware of these fire safety requirements. Failure to comply with these requirements is an offence and will render the owner liable to substantial penalties. But more importantly, a failure to meet these requirements can significantly affect the levels of fire safety afforded to the occupants of the building, which may threaten their life, safety, as well as having significant liability implications for the buildings owner.
Building owners/managers need to be aware of the date on which the Fire Safety Statement must be submitted to Council, to make necessary arrangements for the fire safety measures to be inspected and certified prior to the due date.
To arrange for the essential fire safety services to be inspected and to obtain a Fire Safety Statement, owners/managers are advised to employ the services of a professional building and fire safety consultant.
In the case of residential flat buildings or other strata buildings, the owners' corporation is advised to make prior arrangements, including the allocation of funds, for a building and fire safety consultant to inspect the premises and to provide the required certification and fee upon the due date annually.