Fire safety certificates & statements

Fire safety measures in buildings

Building owners are required to ensure that the Fire Safety Measures within their buildings are maintained in accordance with the relevant Standards at all times and are inspected and certified on a regular basis.

Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 provides the regulatory framework for the maintenance and certification of fire safety measures within all buildings, other than single dwelling houses and outbuildings.

Inspection and certification

The essential fire safety measures in a building (or upon a property) must be inspected and certified by a competent fire safety practioner and a Fire Safety Statement must be given to Council and Fire & Rescue NSW at least on an annual basis.

Essential fire safety measures

Essential fire safety measures within buildings include:

  • automatic fire suppression (sprinkler) systems
  • fire hose reels
  • fire hydrants
  • smoke alarms
  • smoke detection and alarm systems
  • fire doors
  • fire extinguishers
  • solid-core doors
  • smoke exhaust systems
  • exit signs
  • fire drenchers
  • emergency lighting
  • exit systems and paths of travel to exits
  • other fire safety measures specified in the Fire Safety Schedule for the building.

Where do these fire safety measures apply?

The essential fire safety measures apply to all Class 1b buildings and Class 2 to 9 buildings that have been issued with a building approval, construction certificate, complying development certificate or fire safety notice or order by Council (as of 1 July 1988).

Class 1b and class 2 to 9 buildings are defined in the National Construction Code - Building Code of Australia and include residential flat buildings, units, apartments, town-houses, boarding houses, places of shared accommodation, commercial and industrial buildings, public buildings.

Some older buildings, which have not been the subject of an approval, certificate or fire order since 1988, may not currently be subject to these specific requirements. However, many of these buildings will be subject to a development consent, building approval or fire safety order in the future which will incorporate fire safety measures.  These older buildings may require a fire safety upgrade to provide an adequate level of safety to the building occupants and building owners should seek advice from an Accredited Surveyor or Council to facilitate a suitable fire safety upgrade of the building.

Fire safety certificates

Upon completion of building work encompassed in a building approval, construction certificate, complying development certificate or a Council fire safety order, building owners are required to submit a Fire Safety Certificate to Council, before an Occupation Certificate is issued for new development or building work.

A Fire Safety Certificate certifies that the essential fire safety measures in the building and premises have been installed in accordance with the relevant requirements of the National Construction Code - Building Code of Australia and relevant Australian Standards, as specified in the Fire Safety Schedule attached to the Building Approval, Certificate or Council Order.

The building owner must arrange for all of the fire safety measures within the building and premises to be inspected by a competent fire safety practitioner and for a Fire Safety Statement to be provided to the Council and Fire & Rescue NSW, on an annual basis and as may be specified in the Fire Safety Schedule for the building.

Fire safety statements

A Fire Safety Statement certifies that the essential fire safety measures installed in the premises have been inspected and assessed, to ensure that they are fully operational and have been maintained in accordance with the relevant requirements and standards.

Building owners must submit a Fire Safety Statement to Council on an annual basis or  more frequent period if the measures are identifed as a critical fire safety measure in the building's Fire Safety Schedule.

A copy of the Fire Safety Certificate and Fire Safety Statement must be displayed in a conspicuous position in the building and a copy must be forwarded to Fire & Rescue NSW.

The Fire Safety Statement must include certification of all the fire safety measures in the building and premises as specified in the Fire Safety Schedule for the building.  The Fire Safety Statement must be submitted to the Council and Fire & Rescue NSW by the 'due-date' as specified by Council.  Failure to submit a fully complete Fire Safety Statement to Council and Fire & Rescue NSW is an offence, which may result in a penalty notice (fine) up to $4,000.

As of 1 October 2017, the inspection and assessment of each fire safety measure must be carried out by a competent fire safety practitioner, as defined in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

The owner of the building is responsible for the selection and appointment of the competent fire safety practitioner/s to undertake the necessary inspections and assessments before an annual or supplementary Fire Safety Statement can be issued.

Council has no regulatory authority to vary or extend the due date.  Therefore it is important for the building owner to make the necessary arrangements with their fire safety practitioner well in advance of the due date.

As of the 1 December 2017, the Fire Safety Statement must be provided in the ‘approved form’ and it must include the name, contact details and signature of the competent fire safety practitioner who carried out these inspections and assessments.

A blank Fire Safety Statement form can be downloaded from the NSW Department of Planning & Environment website.

The NSW government has also issued a guide, entitled ‘Selecting a Competent Fire Safety Practitioner’, to assist building owners to select and confirm the suitability and appointment of a competent fire safety practitioner to inspect and certify the fire safety measures in the building.

Competent fire safety practitioners

As of 1 October 2017, the inspection and assessment of each fire safety measure must be carried out by a competent fire safety practitioner, as defined in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

The owner of the building is responsible for the selection and appointment of the competent fire safety practitioner/s to undertake the necessary inspections and assessments before an annual or supplementary Fire Safety Statement can be issued.

The NSW government has issued a guide, entitled ‘Selecting a Competent Fire Safety Practitioner’, to assist building owners to select and confirm the suitability and appointment of a competent fire safety practitioner to inspect and certify the fire safety measures in the building.

Building owners may also seek advice from an accredited building certifier, professional fire safety consultant or a relevant professional organisation (i.e. the Fire Protection Association of Australia).

Penalty provisions

Failure to submit a Fire Safety Statement to the Council and Fire & Rescue NSW by the due-date is an offence and will make the owner liable to a penalty notice (fine) up to $4,000. More importantly, failure to meet these safety requirements may affect the life safety of the building's occupants, and have significant liability implications for the building owner.

Council may also issue a $6,000 penalty infringement notice (fine) if the essential fire safety measures are not properly maintained and operational at all times.  Council may also serve a fire safety notice and order requiring compliance with these fire safety requirements and/or commence legal proceedings for a breach of the requirements.

Please note that the Regulations do not empower Council to provide an extension of time in which to comply with these important fire safety provisions. Therefore it is important for building owners and managing agents to have a pro-active strategy in place for the inspection certification and maintenance of the fire safety measures in the building.

More information

Further information may be obtained from an Accredited Building Certifier, professional fire safety consultant or Council.

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