Fire Safety Certification: NSW requirements for owners and strata committees
Annual fire safety certification requirements for existing buildings
Fire safety statements
A fire safety statement is a document issued by or on behalf of the owners of an existing building confirming that an accredited practitioner (fire safety) has assessed, inspected and verified the performance of each fire safety measure that applies to the building.
There are two types of fire safety statements:
- Annual fire safety statements (AFSS)
An annual fire safety statement must be issued each year and include all the essential fire safety measures that apply to a building. The statement also verifies that an accredited practitioner (fire safety) has inspected and confirmed that the exit systems in the building are in compliance with the Regulation. Annual fire safety statements must be submitted within 12 months of the date of the previous annual fire safety statement.
- Supplementary fire safety statements
A supplementary fire safety statement is issued at more regular intervals (as specified in the fire safety schedule) for any critical fire safety measures that apply to a building.
Standard FSS Template Forms
Fire safety statements must be issued using a standard template form published by the Government.
Following the commencement of the Fire Protection Australia (FPAA) accreditation scheme for accredited practitioners (fire safety) the department has updated the fire safety statement form. The new standard template form applies to all fire safety statements issued from 1 March 2021.
Note: Building owners should check the date on which their fire safety statement is likely to be issued before selecting the relevant form and preparing the statement.
For statements issued on or after 1 February 2020 until 1 March 2021, use Version 3.0 of the template form:
For statements to be issued on or after 1 March 2021, use Version 3.1 of the template form:
Who can carry out fire safety assessments and inspections?
An accredited practitioner (fire safety) is a person that undertakes certain specialist fire safety assessment functions required by the Regulation.
Accredited practitioners (fire safety) were previously known as (and do the same work as) competent fire safety practitioners (legislative changes in July 2020 under the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018 changed the name from ‘competent fire safety practitioners’ to ‘accredited practitioners (fire safety)’.
Only practitioners accredited by the Fire Protection Association Australia (FPAA) accreditation scheme (FPAA) can perform the functions of an accredited practitioner (fire safety) where that function is covered by the FPAA scheme. The plans and specifications for specific fire safety systems can also be endorsed by certain registered certifiers.
Two guides have been developed to assist building owners and building certifiers in selecting and determining that a person is an accredited practitioner (fire safety):
- Selecting an accredited practitioner (fire safety) – A guide for building owners
- Selecting an accredited practitioner (fire safety) – A guide for building certifiers
Further information about who can undertake the functions of an accredited practitioner (fire safety) and the approved schemes can be found on the Fire safety practitioner page of the NSW Fair Trading website.
The building owner(s) or their agent must:
- be engaged in the fire safety statement process, as they are ultimately responsible
- select an accredited practitioner (fire safety) who is accredited in Fire Safety Assessment (FSA) and appropriately qualified to undertake assessment of each fire safety measure (Part 9 Division 5 of the EP&A Reg.)
- ensure all fire safety measures are maintained in accordance with clause 182 of the EP&A Reg., and
- declare that each fire safety measure has been assessed by an appropriately qualified accredited practitioner (fire safety), then issue the fire safety statement accordingly.
Note: The person engaged to perform maintenance does not need to be the accredited practitioner (fire safety) who undertook the assessment. The building owner(s) can choose any maintenance provider to undertake the required maintenance identified from assessment.
As soon as possible after a fire safety statement is issued the building owner(s) must provide:
- a copy of the fire safety statement and the building’s current fire safety schedule to their local Council
- a copy of the fire safety statement and the building’s current fire safety schedule to Fire Commissioner (i.e. FRNSW) ; and
- a copy of the fire safety statement and the building’s current fire safety schedule must be prominently displayed in the building.
Best practice to successfully manage your AFSS requirements
Ensure your scheme has plenty of time, within each 12 month period, to:
- select an accredited practitioner (fire safety)
- arrange for your strata agent to issue necessary communications to residents and owners
- enable the inspections to be carried out
- obtain quotes for any identified items and ensure any required maintenance is carried out
- submit the correct government issued AFSS form into your Local Council and to the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) on time
- prominently display the fire safety certificate and the fire safety schedule in the building.
Council fines for late forms
It is important to note the implications of not submitting the required form to your local council on time. In NSW it is an offence under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 not to submit a compliant AFSS to Council by the due date.
Offences can be subject to a court-imposed penalty of up to $110,000 or an on the spot fine for failing to provide an annual fire safety statement.
Significant weekly penalties apply:
- $1000 for the first week overdue
- $2000 for the second week overdue
- $3000 for the third week overdue
- $4000 for the fourth and any subsequent week overdue.
Any questions, just ask your accredited Strata Plus strata manager.Read more
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