Fire Safety Reforms for Strata Buildings

A review of current and upcoming fire safety standards

The recent Amending Regulation to the Environmental Planning and Assessment (Development Certification and Fire Safety) Regulation 2021 (known as the DCFS Regulation) introduces several significant changes to enhance fire safety in buildings. Key amendments were:

  • increasing oversight of fire safety performance solutions through enhanced involvement of Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW);
  • establishing a new category of accredited independent practitioner to assess and verify the performance of newly installed fire safety measures for the purposes of the fire safety certificate and before occupation of the building
  • requiring a fire safety certificate to be taken into account before the issue of a building compliance declaration under the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020;
  • improving the documentation that is relied on for certification, inspection and maintenance of fire safety measures; and
  • mandating the procedures for the routine maintenance of fire safety measures.

Fire Safety Schedules Correction (Effective February 2023)

Since 13 February 2023, under the Environmental Planning and Assessment (Development Certification and Fire Safety) Regulation 2021, building owners have been able to request the re-issuance of a fire safety schedule (FSS) to correct minor errors or omissions and replace missing schedules. This simplified the procedure for corrections which previously required more complex pathway such as obtaining a ‘development control order’ or a ‘development consent.’

It should be noted the Council cannot reissue the FSS if errors are due to actual building work or changes in plans and specifications.

Michael Barnes, Director of Credwell, noted, “Often, building owners or owners corporations are advised at the last minute about inaccuracies in the Fire Safety Schedule (FSS). This amendment has facilitated correcting these issues, reducing bureaucratic red tape.”

Building practitioner declaration

From 13 February 2023, the Amending Regulation requires building practitioners who issue a building compliance declaration under the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 to lodge a copy of the fire safety certificate with their declaration. The Amending Regulation requires building owners to provide the fire safety certificate to the building practitioner(s) making a declaration.

You can check a contractor’s accreditation and the fire safety measures they can endorse at: Fire Safety Assessment Practitioners Register (

Broader consultation with FRNSW

For any building works in Class 2 to 9 buildings involving fire safety performance solutions, there’s now a requirement to consult with Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW). These changes, effective from August 2023, require building owners and certifiers to be more proactive in involving FRNSW in the fire safety aspects of their building projects, ensuring a higher standard of fire safety compliance.

Involvement at different stages

Consultation with FRNSW is required at various stages:

  • When developing a fire safety performance solution, the person responsible (usually a fire safety engineer) must consult with FRNSW.
  • Before issuing a construction certificate or occupation certificate, certifiers need to refer the fire safety aspects to FRNSW.

Standardised Fire Safety Schedule Template (Introduced August 2023)

A mandatory, standardised template for fire safety schedules for Class 1b to 9 buildings has been implemented to minimise errors and improve clarity in documentation.

Looking ahead to 13 February 2025 reforms

The upcoming regulation will mandate routine maintenance of most essential fire safety measures, in accordance with Australian Standard 1851-2012 and any additional requirements of a performance solution approved for building. AS1851 has been designed to ensure that all fire equipment is in optimal working condition at any given period especially in the event of a fire. While legislating a level of maintenance is a step in the right direction, AS 1851-2012 does not cover all EFSMs (e.g., exit signs, emergency lights, emergency lifts and fire control rooms etc.). These measures will still need to be maintained so they continue to perform to the standard of performance specified in the fire safety schedule.

Preparation for 2025 changes

Strata owners and committee members with the support of their strata manager, (and building manager where applicable) must focus on aligning with the 2025 reforms. This includes preparing for the mandatory routine servicing requirements and familiarising themselves with the accreditation process for fire safety system assessors.

These ongoing and upcoming reforms emphasise the evolving nature of fire safety management in strata buildings, underlining the need for continuous adaptation and compliance to improve safety standards and practices.

Owners and managers should stay informed and proactive in their approach to these changes to ensure their buildings meet the latest safety requirements. Contact your strata manager for more information.

Download the fact sheet from the NSW Department of Customer Service: Fire-Safety-Regulation-fact-sheet

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