In New South Wales, regulations within the building and construction industry are currently being amended to restore public faith in the safety of buildings such as strata buildings.
The NSW government has designed this legislation in consultation with building practitioners after a series of highly-publicised building issues and defects both in Australia and abroad have left many questioning their safety within their apartment building or workplace.
As part of this legislation, new fire safety reforms will become enforceable from April 2020, which will control who can undertake certain fire safety work within the building and construction space.
So what exactly are the new fire safety reforms and what do they mean for you?
What are the Fire Safety Reforms?
First introduced by the NSW Government in 2017 as the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Fire Safety and Building Certification) Regulation 2017, the new fire safety reforms are designed to strengthen fire safety certification for new and existing buildings.
The reforms will work to improve the building process – from design through to construction and maintenance – by ensuring trained and accredited individuals can provide professional input and approval at every phase of the process..
From April 2020, only individuals who are accredited as competent fire safety practitioners under the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS) will be authorised to undertake fire safety work.
Competent fire safety practitioners will be accredited to undertake the following inspections and endorsements:
- Annual assessment of essential fire safety measures;
- Annual inspection of fire exits, smoke doors, fire doors & fire shutters; and
- Endorsement of plans and specifications for fire safety related equipment such as sprinkler systems, hydrants, hose reels, fire detection & alarm systems.
What are Competent Fire Safety Practitioners?
Competent Fire Safety Practitioners are skilled and qualified in the area of fire safety, accredited to endorse and certify fire safety measures under the NSW Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme.
Previously, anyone who was a ‘properly qualified person’ could undertake fire safety inspections and maintenance; there was no specific requirement that the person was qualified or licenced to even undertake any fire safety work!
The FPAS is the only NSW Government approved accreditation scheme, so anyone looking to continue working in the building and construction industry in NSW in a fire safety role will need to become accredited through the scheme.
Through the scheme, individuals can currently attain the following classes of accreditation:
- Inspect and Test
- Fire Systems Design
- Fire Systems Certification
- Fire Safety Assessment
How Will This Affect the Public?
As previously mentioned, major defects in buildings like the Opal Tower and Mascot Tower in Sydney have worked to lower public confidence in the building and construction industry at a state, national and international level.
The reforms are designed to give building occupiers, strata owners and the wider public a renewed sense of trust in the building and construction industry, including in areas such as fire safety, through more stringent regulation and more qualified individuals certifying plans & performing essential safety checks.
You can read more about how the new reforms will impact fire safety in densely populated buildings, such as strata buildings, on our previous blog here.
How East Coast Fire & Safety Can Help
Fire safety is paramount to our team at East Coast Fire & Safety; we work with strata building owners, builders and developers to ensure fire safety remains a top concern for all those involved.
At East Coast Fire & Safety, our FPAS accredited competent fire safety practitioners are prepared to assist our clients with their Annual Fire Safety Statements, as well as other essential fire safety checks and endorsements.
Don’t trust anyone else with your fire safety – contact East Coast Fire & Safety today to find out how our team of competent fire safety practitioners can help you.