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Annual Fire Safety Statement FAQ | Some of the questions we often receive from clients, Commercial Landlords, Strata Managers, Committee Members and even technicians.
If you have some questions or seek some clarifications, let us know, and we’ll see how we can assist.
Our information is that it is Law. You must perform an annual fire test every year. “In NSW, the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulations (2000) require ALL building owners, except for houses and non-habitable buildings, to submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) to the local council and fire brigade.”
During the changes to the Fire industry, around 2017, when they started to implement greater accountability on the fire technicians, the people who signed off on an AFSS (formally a 15A) were asked to sign documents basically confirming their experience and ability to perform the task. These were the “competent safety practitioner”. FPAA then later moved to further accountability where fire safety technicians, including the “competent fire safety practitioner” had to become “accreditated” via quite an arduous system. This then gave them an accreditation number for which they were legally accountable.
The Term “Fire Safety Practitioner” per se is not used so much now, post-2022. The question to ask is “are you accredited, and for what fire safety measures (there are 36 measures)
A fire statement is an individual document used to define the safety aspects (Safety Measures) and requirements of a building (except houses and non-habitable buildings) and the methods (standards of performance) that will be used to ensure these fire safety requirements are fulfilled,
The Fire Safety Schedule is typically a list of fire safety measures that apply to your building. Usually, it forms part of the AFSS reminder letter, which your representative or agent should receive around 90 days before the AFSS is due to be submitted to the council.
The schedule will include the relevant standards and building codes which apply as well as any “Engineering” or “design” documentation that also applies.
You can have anyone that has a current electrical contractor license make the repairs on the emergency and exit lights. They will also need to sign off on the Annual Fire Safety Statement for that measure. This means they will need to be credited with FPAA.
The mechanical Services are typically a part of the AFSS. This will be identified on the statement. Typically there are three major components. These are Fire Dampers, Stair pressurization, and HVAC control (typically shuts down in fore mode). Car park fans vary and are often controlled by the FIP (Fire Indication Panel) where the firefighter might turn them off to starve the flames or run them to exhaust the smoke. As a generalization, we find both Car Park supply air fans and exhaust fans will be set to activate in fire mode. Check your engineering documentation for clarity on this point.
The “stay of Penalty” application is used when you have major maintenance or repairs issues that will not be repaired in time for the submission of the Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) to the Council. Different councils have different processes on these; however, they are generally purposed for the same thing. That is, tell the council what is going on, how you will fix it, and how long it will take. If you “fall asleep” and do nothing, this is when the council become cranky and will issue fines.
Important Note: that document is technically an application. You can be refused your application for a “Stay of Penalty”. The fundamental point here is communicating with the council.
Volume and Time. If the volume of work is considerable and there is no chance of getting the work completed in time for the submission of the AFSS, then a “stay” might be the safest and easiest option. This takes the pressure off and communicates with eh Council. This will also give your client more time to do their checks and balances and may need to make arrangements for the additional funds. This comment assumes the work is repairs or corrective maintenance; not new work, not engineering, not upgrades. Communication is key.
The formal definition: “Fire orders are issued by the council Pursuant to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and the Local Government Act 1993 and would be issued if the building is considered to be in an unsafe fire safety condition and is lacking in a number of life safety areas.”
What does it really mean? Typically issued by the council when the “Stay of Penalty” is not enough. That is, the situation is more than just a few maintenance repairs. The works are major and often require a “CDC” (Complying Development Certificate) from a private certifier. The Council will ask for this. The Time period is much longer to do the work. In a “Stay of Penalty”, it is maxed at six months; in a fire order, it is maxed at two years. A fire order can be extended, but you need to show why you provide a works program and that you/the client have been working towards resolving the situation.
For example, when you will receive a fire order, is anything that is an “upgrade”, major works which change the Fire System and require engineering, a large volume of work.
You can contact the fire safety officer at your local council and request a copy of the fire safety schedule for your building or your agent or strata manager or other relevant stakeholders.
The AFSS (which includes the Fire safety schedule) should also be posted in a hard copy in a position for all to read. typically near the entrance of the building, by the building manager’s office or some other similar common point where all can easily view the AFSS
Below are a few links that may help your enquiry further, this list is not exhaustive, there are plenty more opportunities.
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02 8896 6024
03 9982 4414
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