NSW – Essential Property Services advises that Property and Facility Managers need to be reminded that a number of NSW Councils are applying fines for late lodgement or failing to lodge the Annual Fire Safety Statement on time. A number of building owners in New South Wales who are required to lodge an Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) are receiving penalty notices for failing to comply with current legislation.

The NSW State Government has a stringent penalty system to assist local government, who administer the compliance with the current fire safety regulations. This is in response to local government concerns that the regulations were largely being ignored.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulations 2000 nominates a building owner who is late (even 1 day) in submitting their Annual Fire Safety Statements will receive a $500 fine in the first week, increasing weekly by $500 increments up to $2000 in the fourth and subsequent weeks.

The building owners with the most significant risk of penalties are those who own high rise buildings that are subject to tenant turnover and associated fit out alterations. Fit out alterations often involve partitioning changes, which in turn affect the required positioning of fire sprinklers, paths of travel to escapes and other essential fire safety measures within the buildings which requires the issuing of a construction certificate. Rectification works in turn, can also delay the issuing of the Annual Fire Safety Statement.

The issues of non compliance are possibly greater for strata titled buildings under management of a Body Corporate and having multiple unit owners.

The required checking must be completed within three months of the mandatory reporting deadline for the AFSS. This is in order to provide sufficient lead time for building owners to co-ordinate all of the necessary testing with the various maintenance contractors (e.g. fire, electrical, air conditioning and lifts) ahead of the deadline and to ensure they have time for compliance.

Issues caused by the tenants will have no bearing on ultimate responsibility; building owners will receive a penalty for failure to comply. Given the reliance on contractors to do the right thing, owners should carefully consider amending contractor agreements to ensure they have performance clauses that allow them to sign the AFSS with confidence.

Building Legislation Table

Refer to our Building Legislation table for further information on the building control process.