Fire Safety

Building Regulation and Certification Reform October 2017

The NSW Government is implementing a package of reforms to strengthen NSW’s building regulation and certification system.

The reform package follows an independent review of the Building Professionals Act 2005, known as the 'Lambert Review'. The review found a number of issues with the NSW building regulation and certification system and made a number of recommendations to strengthen and simplify the system.

The review and the NSW Government’s response can be found on the Building Professionals Board website. 

The initial priorities are:

•    A package of fire safety reforms for both new and existing buildings;

•    Consolidation of building provisions in the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979;

•    Reform of certifier regulation by re-writing the Building Professionals Act 2005; and

•    New measures to facilitate better use and sharing of certification data.

For further information on these changes please refer to the  NSW Government Planning, Industry & Environment website.

Building Owners Rights & Responsibilties to Maintain Fire Safety Measures

Essential fire safety requirements

Buildings containing essential fire safety measures must be inspected at least once a year and an annual Fire Safety Statement must be given to Council.

The essential fire safety measures apply to all Class 2 to Class 9 buildings that have been issued with a building approval, construction certificate, complying development certificate or fire safety notice or order by Council.

Class 2 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
  • places of public entertainment.

Some older buildings may not currently be subject to these requirements. However, many of these buildings will be subject to development consent, building approval or fire safety order in the future which will incorporate fire safety measures.

Council recommends that the owners of these older buildings obtain a fire safety report from a qualified National Construction Certificate consultant and contact Council to carry out any necessary fire safety upgrading works. This will give the owner a reasonable period of time to achieve an acceptable level of fire safety.

Essential fire safety measures

Essential fire safety measures within buildings include:

  • automatic fire suppression (sprinkler) 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.

Fire Safety Certificates and annual Fire Safety Statements

An annual Fire Safety Statement 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. Building owners are required to submit a Fire Safety Statement to Council each year.

Building owners are required to submit a Fire Safety Certificate to Council before a new building or part of a building is occupied, and when works required under a Council fire safety order are completed.

A Fire Safety Certificate or Statement is submitted by or on behalf of the building owner, and certifies that specified essential fire safety measures have been installed and perform in accordance with the relevant National Construction Code requirements and Australian Standards.

Copies of the Fire Safety Certificate and Fire Safety Statement must be displayed in a conspicuous position in the building and be forwarded to the NSW Fire Brigades.

The regulations for Fire Safety Certificates and Fire Safety Statements are set out in Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

Obtaining your annual Fire Safety Statement

A Fire Safety Statement must be obtained annually, within 12 months of the original certificate or statement being issued. It must be given to Council every year by the due date.

Building owners (including owners' corporations and strata schemes) must arrange for their fire safety measures to be inspected and certified in advance to ensure that the fire safety statement can be given to Council by the due date. Owners are advised to employ a professional building and fire safety consultant.

Fire Safety Certificates and Fire Safety Statements are available at the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website.

Penalty provisions

Failure to comply with these requirements by the due date is an offence and will make the owner liable to substantial penalties. More importantly, failure to meet these safety requirements may threaten the lives of the building's occupants, and have significant liability implications for the building owner.

Council may issue a penalty infringement notice (on-the-spot fine) if the essential fire safety services are not fully maintained or if the annual Fire Safety Statement submission requirements are not complied with. Council may also serve a fire safety notice and order requiring compliance with these fire safety requirements and/or commence legal proceedings for any breach or offence.

Please note that Council cannot vary or provide an extension of time in which to comply with these important fire safety legislative provisions.