REG-06
May 2017

Alterations to Existing Buildings – Forced Building Fire Safety Upgrade

Fire Alarm Safety

NSW  Hendry advises that recent changes to legislation affects property owners and property professionals of all buildings (except single dwellings). Changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulations, namely the introduction of Clause 129D need to be seriously considered by all stakeholders.

/ COUNCIL TO BE NOTIFIED OF SIGNIFICANT FIRE SAFETY ISSUES – 129D
When application is made to a certifying authority for a complying development certificate affecting an existing building, the certifying authority must give written notice to the council if:

  • At any time between the application being received and the issue of complying development certificate, the certifying authority becomes aware of a significant fire safety issue with any part of the building.
  • The notice must describe the fire safety issue and parts of the building affected by the issue, and must be made within 2 days after the certifying authority becomes aware of the fire safety issue.
  • However, the certifying authority is not required to give notice if the fire safety issue is being addressed by the proposed development, or
    by a fire safety order, or by some other development consent (including complying development certificate) that affects the building,

Significant fire safety matters, whilst not defined by the Regulations, may include:

  • blocked, compromised or insufficient number of fire exits;
  • obstructed paths of travel to exists;
  • non-existent (where required) or poorly maintained/non-complying hydrant, smoke detection, sprinklers, fire mode mechanical ventilation systems;
  • significant structural damage that compromises fire compartmentalisation, etc.

/ CONSIDERATIONS FOR BUILDING OWNERS
Building owners must now give serious consideration to this regulatory development, not only are proposed alterations (including a change of use) being assessed by your nominated accredited certifier, but potential significant fire safety measures also have to be assessed.
The required fire safety upgrade works to be undertaken may far outweigh the benefits of the proposed alterations/ change of use. An owner may want to assess these ramifications before applying for a CDC approval or giving a tenant approval to apply for the necessary building approvals.

/ TENANTS AND BUILDING OWNERS
In our opinion building owners and property managers must not allow a tenant to approach an accredited building certifier/ council without first obtaining an opinion on the likely affect that alterations will have on the building.
The tenant and or building owner may wish to withdraw the application after considering the application, this may be too late as authorities could be involved who now know the building needs substantial fire protection upgrade.

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