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.
Fines from FRNSW for false alarms
We often take calls from residents (fire alarm blaring in the background) who are afraid to call 000, because they think their building will be fined if it turns out to be a false alarm.
This is a common misconception.
FRNSW cannot issue fines for any calls made to 000. When a fire alarm is activated in your building, you should always call 000.
The Fire and Rescue NSW Act 1989, Sect 42 allows FRNSW to charge for attending false alarm call-outs that are generated from MONITORED fire detection systems only.
What is a monitored system?
A monitored system automatically calls the fire brigade when an alarm is activated.
The fire indicator panel has an ASE (alarm signalling equipment) installed that monitors the system status. If an alarm is activated this devices transmits a signal to the monitoring company, who in turn dispatches FRNSW.
If your system is not monitored, the fire brigade will only attend if someone calls 000.
Fines for false alarms for monitored systems
The current charge by FRNSW for false alarms (for monitored systems only) is $1,600. + GST.
But… not all false alarms are chargeable:
- The first false alarm in a 60 day period will not be charged. Any false alarms that occur within 60 days of the first alarm will be charged.
- Only the first alarm will be charged in a 24 hour period. If multiple alarms occur after the first, they are considered a single event.
FRNSW invoices the monitoring company, who in turn invoices building owners or managers.
FRNSW does not support charges being passed on to individual occupants, although exceptions may apply.
Why is there a charge for false alarms?
False alarms divert precious FRNSW resources that would otherwise be available for genuine emergencies. Not to mention, responding to false alarms costs us tax payers a whole lot of money!!!
False alarm charges are fines intended to encourage building owners to maintain fire alarm systems efficiently and effectively and to educate occupants of common causes of false alarms (cooking, aerosols etc).
Can the false alarm fine be waived under any circumstances?
Yes, under certain circumstances, the fine can be waived.
Pursuant to section 43 of the Fire Brigades Act 1989, waiver or reduction of AFA false alarm charges is at the discretion of the Commissioner.
A building owner or manager can seek a waiver for the false alarm charge through their monitoring company. The monitoring company will provide advice on the process and documentation required to request a waiver.
The application for waiver must be made not more than 180 calendar days from the FRNSW invoice date.
Read this guide from FRNSW for more details.
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