VIC Hendry advises building owners and property professionals to be aware of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act 1958 and the Country Fire Authority Act 1958, in relation to monitored automatic fire alarms.
A monitored automatic fire alarm is a fire alarm system, i.e. a Fire Indicator Panel (FIP), which automatically sends a signal to the fire services (the MFB or CFA), via a monitoring provider, when a fire alarm connected to the FIP is activated. This system generally forms part of the nominated essential safety measures schedule of a building and is required to be operational at all times to fulfil its purpose and to be in accordance with a building’s occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection issued by a building surveyor.
It is an offence in Victoria to reset an FIP if the FIP detects a fire and sounds an alarm without consent of the fire services or without a reasonable excuse interfere or damage a Fire Indicator Panel or any other apparatus that transmits an automatic alarm signal to the fire services, (including isolation and disconnection) without a reasonable excuse.
A guide published by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) called ‘monitored automatic alarms’ explains in detail for building owners and managers, how to best familiarise themselves with their rights and responsibilities in relation to the new legislation regarding monitored automatic fire alarms systems.
In accordance with this guide ‘monitored automatic alarms’, and provide an Emergency Plan is in place, a trained warden can silence an audible alert siren generated by an Emergency Warning and Intercommunications System (EWIS) or Sound System and Intercom System (SSIS) provided an immediate investigation into the cause of the alarm is carried out.
However, the FIP must not be reset until the fire services arrive. In this same instance, by resetting the FIP would mean a building owner or manager is in breach of the Act.
Each time a building owner or manager is in breach of this new legislation (without a reasonable excuse) they could be liable for up to 60 penalty units under the MFP and CFA Acts, and as a result a substantially large fine may be imposed.