Prescribed Fire Safety Installations: Critical Defects Notification

QLD – Hendry advises building owners and managers need to be aware that the Building Fire Safety Regulation (BFSR 2008) includes an obligation for maintenance contractors or any person conducting maintenance and testing to notify occupiers of critical defects with prescribed fire safety installations.

What is a critical defect?

The definition of a critical defect is a defect in a prescribed fire safety installation for a building that:

  • The defect is likely to render the prescribed fire safety installation inoperable.
  • The defect is reasonably likely to have a significant adverse impact on the safety of the occupants of part or all of the building if a fire or hazardous materials emergency happens.

For example:

  • A defect making a fire detection and alarm system inoperable.
  • A defect in a pump making the fire hydrants for a building unable to reach the design criteria.
  • Issues preventing safe egress from a building e.g. stairwell blockages and faulty or locked exit door hardware.

A critical defect is not an issue in cases such as 1 or 2 fire extinguishers not being maintained out of a building with 50 fire extinguishers; or a single service penetration through fire resisting construction not adequately sealed.

Notification Requirements

If a contractor or person maintaining or inspecting a prescribed fire safety installation for a building becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, of a critical defect in the installation, they must give the occupier of the building a notice about the defect. The notice must be in an approved form (a critical defect notice per AS1851-2005) within 24 hours after the person carries out the maintenance of the prescribed fire safety installation.  In turn the occupier must rectify the critical defect in a prescribed time frame.