The following information is important for all property owners, property managers, tenants, and business operators who own, occupy or manage buildings throughout the municipality ranging from various types of residential properties to commercial, retail and industrial premises.
This information aims to increase general fire safety awareness, and develop an understanding of modern day fire safety issues and how Council commonly deals with building fire safety.
Smoke Alarms Regulation
An important State Government decision came into affect in 2006 to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries, by gazetting the Regulation makes smoke alarms compulsory in all residential homes and shared accommodation buildings.
Smoke alarm battery replacement for the elderly (SABRE)
Fire & Rescue NSW's SABRE program is designed to support senior citizens residing in their own homes who have limited domestic support, in assisting them in the maintenance of their fire safety devices, primarily their battery operated smoke alarms.
Smoke alarms for the deaf and hearing impaired
Conventional smoke alarms are not effective in alerting those with hearing impairments. A visual warning device which is interconnected to the smoke / heat alarm can be obtained. Also, a special emergency call service is available for people with a hearing impairment (or speech impairment) with direct access to fire safety emergency response. For more information visit the Fire & Rescue NSW webpage.
What are the responsibilities of the building owner?
Under the provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, owners of buildings such as commercial or industrial premises, residential flat buildings etc. have a legal obligation to ensure that all fire safety measures installed on the premises are maintained in good working condition at all times.
It is the responsibility of the building owner to ensure:
all fire safety measures are inspected by a properly qualified person or persons to ensure the measures are being maintained to the appropriate standard of performance
fire Safety Statements are displayed in a clearly visible position such that Council or Fire & Rescue NSW officers can see them when inspecting the premises and
all exit doors are kept in good working condition, and corridors or other paths of egress are kept clear of any obstructions.
These requirements are in place to promote the prevention and spread of fire. Fire safety measures assist in reducing the spread of a fire and early detection helps to save property and lives.
What is an Annual Fire Safety Statement?
Each year, the owner of a building to which an essential fire safety measure is applicable must submit to council an Annual Fire Safety Statement for the building.
Annual Fire Safety Statements are issued by or on behalf of the owner of the building. They declare that all fire safety measures on the premises have been maintained to the appropriate standards and that exit paths allow for the safe passage through the premises in the event of fire.
What is a fire safety measure?
A fire safety measure is any aspect of construction, piece of equipment or can be evacuation plans that are required to ensure the safety of people within the building in the event of fire or other emergency.
These measures include things like smoke detection and alarm systems, portable fire extinguishers, fire hose reels, hydrants, exit signs or evacuation plans. Fire safety requirements vary from building to building.
Who do I have inspect my premises?
The owner must ensure that a properly qualified person inspects each fire safety measure. The choice of person to carry out an assessment or inspection is up to the owner. The person who carries out an assessment must inspect and verify the performance of each fire safety measure being assessed.
Note: All paperwork provided by your service provider is for the owner only and is NOT to be lodged with council. It is important that records of inspections are kept by the owner.
How do I lodge my annual statement?
Complete all sections on the Annual Fire Safety Statement form provided by council and provide dates where required to do so. Check the form again for accuracy and completeness and lodge it at council.
An Annual Fire Safety Statement for a building must deal with each essential fire safety measure in the building premises. It must be submitted within 12 months after the date on which the previous statement or the Final Fire Certificate was given, and it must be lodged within three months of the date of inspection and assessment.
The statement must be submitted to council and Fire & Rescue NSW.
What about home owners?
There is no requirement to submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement for single dwelling houses classified under 1a under the Building Code of Australia. Typically, Class 1a usually refers to single dwelling houses, terraces or villa houses. If in doubt, ask.
Home owners must ensure they maintain their smoke alarms.
What will happen if I do not submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement?
Council treats fire safety issues seriously. Where required under legislation to provide a statement, the owner is responsible to ensure lodgment, regardless as to whether the property is tenanted or vacant. Please consider the following.
Incomplete or late Fire Safety Statements may result in a fine.
If this statement is not completed satisfactorily you will be required to submit a corrected statement.
On-the-spot fines can be imposed against the owner for 'Failure to provide an Annual / Supplementary Fire Safety Statement' and range from $500.00 to $2,000.00.
If a fine is issued, it will not excuse you from the need to submit a Fire Safety Statement.
If you fail to meet your statutory requirements, council will take legal action against you and/or will continue to issue on-the-spot $ fines.
'Failure to maintain essential Fire Safety Measures' (which is a separate offence) can also result in a fine. The penalty in this instance is $1,500.00 and council will impose this as necessary.
For further information on fire safety, including smoke alarms, home evacuation plans, winter fire safety at home and fact sheets, please also refer to the Fire and Rescue NSW and for more information on legislation refer to the Department of Planning.