It is no secret that fires are indiscriminate; they can be devastating to people of all walks of life, impacting the livelihoods of all those who are in its destructive and sometimes deadly path.
In order to prevent fire hazards from occurring in densely populated buildings, such as strata buildings, the New South Wales government announced a series of building regulatory reforms to improve fire safety.
As with all new reforms and regulations, individuals and companies want to know how the changes affect them. Read on to find out more information.
What are the Reforms?
In July 2017, the New South Wales government introduced the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Fire Safety and Building Certification) Regulation 2017.
These fire safety reforms came into effect on 1 October 2017, primarily affecting building owners and managing agents.
As part of the reforms, strata building owners are required to submit Annual Fire Safety Statements (AFSS) to the council each year. A person, dubbed as a Competent Fire Safety Practitioner, must undertake any assessments of the building to complete the Annual Fire Safety Statement for strata buildings.
Common Questions about Annual Fire Safety Statements for Strata Buildings
These are some of the most common questions we have received at East Coast Fire & Safety about the reforms – if there is anything we haven’t answered, you are welcome to contact our team for more information.
Who Can Perform an Assessment for my AFSS?
The reforms have changed the requirements of who can undertake inspections and maintenance for strata AFSS.
Previously, a ‘properly qualified person’ was able to undertake an inspection; as this definition is broad, an inspector didn’t necessarily have to be licenced or have any qualifications to sign off a fire safety statement!
As of October 2017, the new requirement is for a ‘competent fire safety practitioner’ to undertake any fire safety assessments and inspections.
A competent fire safety practitioner is someone who holds a specific category of accreditation, or has undergone particular training or assessment to become a competent fire safety practitioner.
At the time of writing, the New South Wales government has approved two classes of accreditation to be classified as competent fire safety practitioners: Fire Safety Assessment (FSA) and Fire Systems Design (FSD).
You can read more about what constitutes a competent fire safety practitioner in Clause 176A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Fire Safety and Building Certification) Regulation 2017 document.
What Requirements Need to be Met With an AFSS?
The council issues AFSS to strata and other building owners each year.
The purpose of the statement is for building owners to certify that an assessment and inspection of essential fire safety measures within the building has taken place and that all essential fire safety measures can perform to the appropriate standard.
Essential fire safety measures are defined as any measure, including any item of equipment, form of construction or fire safety strategy that is, or is proposed to be implemented in a building for life saving purposes in the event of a fire.
In short, essential fire safety measures are anything in the building that is designed to promote or provide fire safety to tenants and building owners.
What Does a Competent Fire Safety Practitioner Actually Do?
A competent fire safety practitioner is qualified and skilled in the area of fire safety and their role in Annual Fire Safety Statements for strata buildings is to certify that essential fire safety measures are in good working order.
This practitioner is required to inspect and certify essential fire safety measures, which may include:
- Emergency Warning & Intercommunication Systems (EWIS)
- Fire Sprinkler Systems
- Automatic Fire Detection & Alarm Systems, Smoke Detectors & Automatic Fail Safe Devices
- Emergency Lighting & Exit Signs
- Fire Extinguishers, Fire Blankets & Fire Hose Reels
- Smoke Doors, Fire Doors & Fire Shutters
- Warning & Exit Signage
The competent fire safety practitioner is required to undertake the checks of these measures and then endorse each Annual Fire Safety Statement before it can be submitted by the building owner.
What Happens if I Don’t Submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement?
If you haven’t submitted your AFSS for your strata building, your local council will chase the statement until it is submitted and if they feel it is necessary, the council may even inspect your strata building for compliance to the fire safety measures.
Councils and fire brigades are both empowered to serve and enforce non-compliance notices an actions to your building.
How Can East Coast Fire & Safety Help Your Business with AFSS
As a local, multi-award winning fire protection service provider, East Coast Fire & Safety are qualified and equipped to undertake all checks and maintenance for your Annual Fire Safety Statement.
East Coast Fire & Safety have provided fire protection services to happy clients across New South Wales since 2002. Our team at East Coast Fire & Safety are FPAS qualified and Certified Fire Safety Practitioners in NSW, ready to assist you with all your AFSS needs.
Contact East Coast Fire & Safety today to complete your Annual Fire Safety Statement for your strata building.