Can I install downlights, ducted air conditioning, ceiling exhaust fans or manholes in my unit ceiling?
Well yes… but you need to be very careful if your ceiling designed to have a “resistance to the incipient spread of fire to the roof space for a period of not less than 60 minutes”.
Fire rated ceilings are an fire safety measure, designed to slow the spread of fire from one part of the building to another.
In an emergency situation emergency lights should run on their backup battery for at least 90-minutes. Australian Standards require that exit & emergency lights be tested every 6 months. Exit and emergency lights have a shorter lifespan when compared to non-emergency lights.
What is an Annual Fire Safety Statement?
In laymen’s terms an AFSS is a declaration from the building owner(s) that the fire safety measures that apply to a building (listed in Section 4) have been checked and continue to perform to the relevant standard (also listed in Section 4).
The same way a pink slip for your car verifies that your vehicle is safe and ready for the road, the AFSS enables building owner(s) to demonstrate are complying with the requirement to maintain fire safety measures in accordance with clause 182 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulation.
Copies of the AFSS must be sent to the local council and to Fire and Rescue NSW. A copy must also be displayed in a prominent position in the building alongside a copy of the building’s fire safety schedule.
What is a fire safety measure?
In laymen’s terms a Fire Safety Measure refers to a category of fire protection equipment.
Digging a little deeper, we see that ‘Fire safety measure’ is defined in cause 165 the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulation:
Examples of everyday fire safety measures include: fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, fire hydrants, sprinklers, fire detection and alarm systems and fire seals.
Essential fire safety measures are often identified in the building’s fire safety schedule, where a schedule was required to be issued, or they could be included in the essential services list attached to an approval or order issued under the Local Government Act 1919 or the Local Government Act 1993.
Essential fire safety measures are the fire safety measures that form part of an annual fire safety statement.
What is a fire safety schedule?
Fire safety schedule lists the measures required to be installed and the standard they need to achieve. A fire safety schedule can be issued:
- By your local Council or an accredited certifier in relation to a construction or complying development certificate
- By the local Council with a fire safety order
- By the local Council in some cases with a development consent, such as for a change of use in an existing building.
Copies of the schedule should be held by the building, can often be obtained from the local council. An example of a fire safety is shown below.
Do all buildings need to submit an AFSS?
No. Not all buildings.
Buildings (class 2-9) constructed after 1 July 1988 need to submit an AFSS.
Buildings (class 2-9) constructed before 1 July 1988 don’t need to submit an AFSS unless:
- A DA or CDC has been applied to the building after 1 July 1988.
- A fire order has been issued by council or the fire commissioner on the building after 1 July 1988.
What happens if the AFSS is not submitted?
It is an offence to fail to provide the statement. Substantial and continuing weekly penalty notices apply for this offence:
- 1 week late $1,000
- 2 weeks late an additional $2,000
- 3 weeks late an additional $3,000
- 4 weeks late an additional $4,000
Although they are not required to do so by law, many councils send a courtesy reminder letter to the owner of the building when the AFSS due date is approaching.
Failure to submit an annual fire safety statement could also lead to legal proceedings in the Land and Environment Court, where the maximum penalty for a breach is $110,000.
Who can endorse Fire Safety Measures on an AFSS?
According to the clause 175 (b) of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulation the measures must be inspected by an accredited practitioner (fire safety).
You can find accredited practitioners (fire safety) by searching the register on the FPA website. It is the responsibility of the building to ensure the practitioner that they are using is fully accredited.
These individuals possess the relevant knowledge & experience to decide if a fire safety measure is capable of performing to the standard to which it was originally installed.
Civil Fire currently have 5 individuals recognized as Accredited Practitioners (Fire Safety).These experts possess the relevant up-to-date knowledge and experience required to determine the effectiveness of fire safety measures listed on fire safety schedules.
Civil Fire is accredited to endorse ALL fire safety measures.
If the building chooses to engage a non-accredited practitioner to complete repairs in their building, Civil Fire may need to re-inspect their work for an additional cost in order to endorse the measure on the AFSS.
How often do fire safety measures need to be inspected?
Fire contractors don’t make up how often equipment needs to be tested. Testing frequencies are laid out in the Australian Standard for the routine inspection and maintenance of fire safety equipment AS1851.
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I don’t think we’ve had contractors come through before who were so clean and tidy, helpful and responsive with ideas about how to better maintain the heritage and be compliant and generally respectful of the property.
He was so thoughtful, he stopped the really noisy part of the repair so I could answer calls. I went out at lunch, and he was on his hands and knees washing the floor in the entry because he’d brought in some debris from the street.
People are very quick to complain but slow to compliment so I just wanted to say thank you for your prompt service.