New fire safety requirements
Choosing who will do the annual or supplementary fire safety assessments for your building is a big responsibility. As stated by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, these checks are mandatory to keep buildings safe.
Now, the rules have changed. As of 1 October 2017, The Department updated the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulation 2000, with the biggest change affecting who can assess your essential fire safety measures.
What’s in a name?
Before, you needed to choose a “properly qualified person”. But because “properly qualified” was never well defined, you could have inadvertently chosen an unqualified assessor, leaving your building at risk. Now, the definition is a “competent fire safety technician”.
How to select your next fire safety assessor
The Department of Finance, Services and Innovation is developing an accreditation process, which will make sure assessors meet strict criteria. They’ll then issue a register of competent fire safety technicians who meet all the standards.
In the meantime, a Guide for Building Owners will be available to help you make the best decision. It identifies what tasks your fire safety assessor should do, helps you assess their competence and lets you record your approval of the assessor you’ve chosen. This is good news when you’re responsible for helping to keep your building safe. We’ll let you know when the Guide is available, but meanwhile, here are some useful notes:
- In addition to having the correct licensing, insurance, work health & safety, worker’s compensation and ASIC qualifications, fire contractors must now also complete and sign a competency declaration to comply with the new regulations.
- Annual Fire Safety Statements received will be submitted to council if necessary.
- From 1 December 2017, a standardised annual fire safety statement (AFSS) will be introduced. This will replace the variety of statements accepted across different councils previously. The new AFSS will act as a guarantee that all fire safety measures within the building are operational and compliant, and will also contain sign off by the competent fire safety practitioner and owners/agent.
The PICA Group are currently meeting with councils to ensure that the new standardised form is being consistently interpreted by the key stakeholders and to ensure due dates are comfortably met. Your strata manager and any compliance support staff will be able to assist you with your responsibilities around ensuring that your buildings fire safety measures are up-to-date and assessed by a “competent fire safety practitioner”.