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.
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”.
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:
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”.