The Government may force all non-essential services to temporarily cease trading at some point.
Civil Fire as an Essential Service
Under the Essential Services Act 1988 NSW Section 4 (1) (k) it would appear that Civil Fire’s services would be deemed essential in that we support (c) the provision of fire-fighting services.
If this is the case, during stage 3 Civil Fire will continue to operate in the same way it did in stage 2.
Civil Fire as a Non-Essential Service
If however Government deems our services non-essential, we will comply with the direction to cease trading temporarily.
None of our workers will work during this time.
Management anticipates that Civil Fire has the financial reserves to pay all workers normally for at least 2 weeks. After this time, should the closure continue, a further assessment will be conducted by Management. Our workers may be asked to take paid leave should business closures be extensive.
Civil Fire management would like to take this opportunity to reassure our workers – we do not anticipate anyone losing their jobs.
Impact on AFSS Deadlines & Inspections
Civil Fire is contracted by owners of building’s to maintain fire safety measures in their buildings and to endorse certain fire safety measures on an AFSS for the purposes of complying with owner’s responsibilities with the EP&A Regulation 2000.
It is important that fire safety measures continue to be in a condition to operate but any superficial risk assessment will reveal that there is greater health and life risk at the present time from exposure to the COVID-19 than from the risk of an event of fire or other emergency.
Civil Fire management will therefore not instruct employees to undertake activities where there is advice that precautions should be taken and precautions cannot be reasonably complied with.
In these situations it is likely that some inspections and surveys will be postponed or in some instances cancelled until there is government advice that the pandemic has passed.
The NSW EP&A Regulation 2000 provides no mechanism for owners not to issue an AFSS at the anniversary of the issuing of the building’s Final Fire Safety Certificate. Civil Fire is for the most part contracted to access and inspect fire safety measures for the purposes of endorsing those fire safety measures capable of performing.
Where possible Civil Fire’s Fire Safety Assessors will continue to undertake assessments and inspections to meet this contracted obligation.
Where Government directions inhibit the assessment of the performance of fire safety measures, Civil Fire will make representations through the FPA and directly through the relevant minister on behalf of owners for a mechanism to postpone the issue date of AFSSs.
It will be difficult to ‘catch up’ the endorsement of AFSSs if a Stay of PINs is the mechanism suggested by the consent authorities given the current FSA accreditation numbers and skilled work force which is expected to be affected by enforced absenteeism.
Councils have the legislated power to levy fines and enforce the evacuation of buildings in certain circumstances but such measures would be counter-productive to the protection of the community to the pandemic.
Civil Fire will work cooperatively with government, the industry and our customers to maintain buildings in a fit and safe condition for occupation during any such periods.