NSW – Hendry reminds building owners and managers of their responsibilities for the maintenance of essential fire safety measures in their buildings under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulations 2000 (EPAR). Clause 182 of the Regulations requires the owner of a building to maintain each essential fire safety measure in a building in accordance with the standards as stated in the fire safety schedule or, if there is no fire safety schedule or Annual Fire Safety Statements, to a standard no less than that to which it was originally designed and implemented. Adequate maintenance will allow the Annual Fire Safety Statement to be signed by the agent/owner with confidence.
This clause places ultimate responsibility for the maintenance of essential fire safety measures on the building owner. With this in mind, the following common errors appearing on Annual Fire Safety Statements, signed by owners and their agents, should be addressed:
- The statement “Does not comply” next to an essential fire safety measure is not acceptable. If the particular essential fire safety measure is not in a compliant state, it should be brought up to the required standard prior to issuing an Annual Fire Safety Statement.
- If the essential fire safety measure, as installed, is modified from that of the Building Code of Australia or relevant standard as part of some fire engineered solution, then the fire engineered Building Code of Australia Alternative Solution report should be nominated as the standard to be met.
- Nominating the maintenance Australian Standard AS 1851-2005 ‘Maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment’ is likewise inadequate. This suite of Standards nominates how essential fire safety measures are to be maintained, not the standard to which they were installed and intended to operate to. For example, mechanical ventilation is typically AS/ NZS 1668.1-1998 ‘The use of ventilation and air-conditioning in buildings – Fire and smoke control in multi-compartment buildings’ and/ or AS 1668.2-1991 ‘The use of mechanical ventilation and air-conditioning in buildings – Mechanical ventilation for acceptable indoor-air quality’ and not AS 1851.
- Endeavour to include the publication year of the nominated Standard; that is AS/ NZS 2293.1-1998 ‘Emergency evacuation lighting for buildings – System design, installation and operation’. This saves any confusion in the future as to which version of the Standard the essential fire safety measure is supposed to comply with.
- The Regulations also require an Annual Fire Safety Statement to be issued to the local government on an annual basis. Failure to do so constitutes a separate offence for each week beyond the date the statement was due. In this regard, all New South Wales local governments are able to issue fines of $500 in the first week, increasing weekly by $500 increments up to $2000 in the fourth week for failure to submit the required statement.
- The original fire safety schedule contains inaccuracies.