QLD – Essential Property Services provides this overview of the Queensland building legislation applicable to prescribed fire safety installations (essential safety measures) under the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 (BFSR) and AS 1851-2005 ‘Maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment’ (AS 1851). This article enables building owners and managers to appreciate where statutory obligations reside.

The introduction of the BFSR in July 2008 combined with the adoption of AS 1851 in 2006 in Queensland has substantially altered previously accepted fire safety standards and regulations.  Queensland now has one of the most challenging environments for building owners, facility managers and maintenance contractors to do business in a compliant manner.  It should now be recognised that Queensland possibly has the most strict fire safety compliance standards of any State in Australia since adopting the much discussed AS 1851 as the minimum standard, and the subsequent introduction of the BFSR.

Having now modelled the mandatory reporting provisions of the BFSR in the theme of AS 1851, it would seem that Queensland may be leading the way forward to a nationally accepted essential safety measures maintenance and reporting benchmark.

Background

The introduction of the BFSR was a result of the Department of Emergency Services (DES) completion of a review of the Building Fire Safety Regulation 1991 and a draft of the proposed replacement regulation was prepared and made available for public comment in June 2007.  The regulation as developed is subordinate to the Building Act 1975, the Fire and Rescue Service Act 1990, the Queensland Building Services Authority Act 1991 and the State Penalties Enforcement Act 1999.  The most recent changes represent the second phase of an overall review of fire safety arrangements in Queensland.  In general terms the regulation has been expanded and is far more comprehensive in its approach and coverage in respect to building occupant fire safety.

Building owners, managers and occupiers of commercial buildings should make themselves aware of the fundamental and finite provisions of the BFSR, particularly in respect to matters of;

  • Occupant egress
  • Fire safety management organisation
  • Passive fire and smoke containment systems
  • Full function system testing
  • Mandatory reporting obligations
  • Critical defects

The BFSR has wider reaching objectives that include strengthening laws in respect to ensuring safe egress from buildings and the appropriate maintenance of fire safety installations.  Relative to the additional requirements of the BFSR, there are additional penalties that can be imposed for non compliance.

Documentation

BFSR requires occupiers to now take reasonable steps to obtain building approval documents such as development permits, certificates of classification or fire engineered solutions, or ensure the managing entity of the building does the same on their behalf prior to occupation, with copies kept onsite at all times in a safe location.  These documents must be kept with the emergency management plans at all times.

Terminology

Introduction of new terminology, for example the description of ‘common areas’ or ‘managing entity’ provides delineation between tenancies and owners/managers/ corporation managers areas of responsibilities, and hence remove some of the previous regulations ambiguity in respect to areas of responsibility.