Fire safety certificates and statements
A fire safety certificate is required to be submitted to the Council prior to the occupation of a new building, or part of a building, and upon completing works required under a Council fire safety order. The owner of a building must also submit a fire safety statement to the Council on an annual basis.
A copy of the fire safety certificate and fire safety statement is required to be displayed within the building in a conspicuous position and a copy must be forwarded to the NSW Fire Brigade.
What is an essential fire safety service?
Essential fire safety services encompass a number of fire safety measures within buildings or premises and include:
- automatic fire suppression systems
- fire hose reels
- fire hydrants
- 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
What is a fire safety certificate and fire safety statement?
A fire safety certificate is a type of certificate submitted by, or on behalf of, the building owner which in effect certifies that the specified essential fire safety measures have been installed and perform in accordance with the relevant Building Code of Australia requirements and Australian Standards.
A fire safety statement is similar to the fire safety certificate and it in effect certifies that the essential fire safety measures have been tested, are currently operational and have been maintained in accordance with the relevant requirements and standards.
When is a building subject to these requirements?
All Class 1b to Class 9 buildings which are subject to a building approval, construction certificate, complying development certificate, fire safety notice or order by the Council, after 1 July 1988, are automatically subject to the essential fire safety services requirements.
Class 1b to Class 9 buildings include:
- residential flat buildings
- certain dual occupancies
- townhouse developments
- shops and restaurants
- office buildings
- commercial buildings
- public assembly buildings
- nursing homes
- places of shared accommodation
- bed and breakfast facilities
- places of public entertainment
There are a number of older buildings which may not currently be subject to these requirements, however, many of these buildings will be subject to a development consent, building approval or fire safety order at a future date which will incorporate these requirements.
In relation to these older buildings, it is recommended that building owners obtain a fire safety report from a building and fire safety consultant and voluntarily carry out any necessary fire safety upgrading works (subject to obtaining the prior consent of Council). This way the building owner is in a better position to specify the necessary works which suit the characteristics of the building as well as achieving an acceptable level of fire safety over a reasonable period of time.
What should I do now?
It is important that building owners are aware of these fire safety requirements. Failure to comply with these requirements is an offence and will render the owner liable to substantial penalties. But, more importantly, a failure to meet these requirements can significantly affect the levels of fire safety afforded to the occupants of the building, which may threaten their life or safety, as well as having significant liability implications for the building owner.
Building owners need to be aware of the date on which the fire safety statement must be submitted to Council to enable the necessary arrangements to be made for the fire safety measures to be inspected and certified prior to the due date.
To arrange for the essential fire safety services to be inspected and to obtain a fire safety statement, owners are advised to employ the services of a professional building and fire safety consultant. In this regard it is important that your consultant is suitably qualified and fully aware of the relevant legislative and Building Code of Australia requirements.
In the case of residential flat buildings or other strata buildings, the owner's corporation is advised to make prior arrangements, including the allocation of funds, for a building and fire safety consultant to inspect the premises and to provide the required certification upon the due date annually.
When is a fire safety statement due and what penalty provisions may apply?
A fire safety statement must be obtained on an annual basis, from the date on which the initial 'fire safety certificate' (formerly known as a Form 6 or Form 15 certificate) was obtained. The fire safety statement must be submitted to Council in response to building approval, construction certificate, complying development certificate or fire safety order.
If a fire safety statement is submitted to Council on an annual basis and has not been submitted to Council within the past 12 months, it is now overdue and must be obtained and submitted to Council as soon as possible.
What penalty provisions may apply?
The NSW Government has introduced a penalty notice system to assist Council's in administering compliance with current fire safety regulations. As a result, building owners who are late in submitting their Annual Fire Safety Certificates may receive a $1,000 fine in the first week after the Statement is due. The fine progressively increases in increments of $1,000 per week for every week thereafter, up to a maximum of $4,000.
Council can also issue a range of other penalties for offences such as:
Not displaying Fire Safety Certificates, Annual Fire Safety Statements, or fire safety notices on-site
Failure to maintain essential fire safety measures
Interfere, obstruct, remove or damage fire safety notices, fire doors, fire exits or paths of travel that lead to exits
Failure to provide smoke alarms in any residential building in accordance with Smoke Alarms Regulation
All offences can result in fines being issued on-the-spot, and at the same the property may also be subject to an Order being issued so as to resolve the matter which caused the offence.
Blank copies of a fire safety certificate and a fire safety statement are available from Council.
Should you require any further information in relation to these important fire safety requirements please contact Council on 02 6626 7050 Monday to Friday, Council's Customer Service Centre between 9.00am and 4.00pm, Monday to Friday or, alternatively, please contact your building and fire safety consultant.