QLD – Essential Property Services advises commercial building owners, managers and contractors that specialist maintenance contractors servicing and maintaining fire safety installations must notify the building occupier or managing entity of any critical defect with prescribed fire safety installations. In accordance with part 53 of the Building Fire Safety Regulations 2008, and the Queensland Development Code (QDC), it is mandatory for specialist maintenance contractors or responsible persons to notify commercial building occupiers of a critical defect affecting the fire systems (prescribed fire safety installations) they maintain and test. Occupiers also have obligations under the QDC.
Definition of a Critical Defect
Fault/ defect/ impediment affecting a prescribed fire safety installation for a building –
- That is likely to render the installation inoperable;
- or is reasonably likely to have a significant adverse impact on the safety of occupants of part or all of the building if a fire or hazardous materials emergency happens.
Examples of a critical defect —
- a defect making a fire detection and alarm system inoperable
- a defect in a pump making the fire hydrants for a building inoperable
- obstruction that would prevent safe exit from a building
To Fail to Notify a Critical Defect is an Offence
Under the building legislation it is an offence for a specialist maintenance contractor or responsible person who is undertaking, or has undertaken, maintenance or testing of a prescribed fire safety installation for a building who becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, of a critical defect and does not notify the occupier.
The responsible person or specialist maintenance contractor must give the occupier of the building a notice about the critical defect in the approved form (a critical defect notice) within 24 hours after the person undertakes the maintenance or testing of the prescribed fire safety installation. Ideally the occupier of the building should initially be notified of the critical defect prior to contractor or person inspecting leaving the site.
Occupiers Obligations under BFSR and QDC
Under the BFSR the rectification of any critical defect must be undertaken within 1 month from notification unless there is a reasonable excuse. Without a reasonable excuse, occupiers may be liable for substantial statutory penalties for not rectifying a critical defect.
In accordance with the Queensland Development Code, part MP6.1, the occupier of the building must attach to the relevant annual occupier statement any critical defect notices given within the preceding 12 month period.
An occupiers statement is a prescribed form detailed in the QDC, part MP6.1 and legislated in part 55A of the BFSR.
The occupier of a building must, annually in compliance with QDC, part MP6.1, prepare a statement (an occupier statement) about the maintenance of each prescribed fire safety installation for the building. The occupier must, within 10 business days after the relevant anniversary date for the building give the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service a copy of the statement.
The occupier must keep a copy of each occupier statement with the record of maintenance for 2 years after the statement is prepared at a location on site.
Building Legislation Table
Fire Safety Compliance: Fire Safety Installations