People are safer when compliance is central. Every building owner is responsible for creating an environment with frequently monitored fire safety rules and a fire safety timetable expert-executed regularly. Here’s everything you need to know about NSW fire reforms: how and why to comply.
In 2000, the NSW Government structured an uncompromising penalty system. To stay fine-free, building owners must make maintenance checks of all fire safety elements installed in the building and get this done three months before the Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) deadline. If you submit even one day late, you face a $500 fine which increases weekly.
Maintain your AFSS certification and fundamental fire safety regulations, streamline anything that interferes, deters, eliminate or harm fire safety sees, fire entryways, fire ways out, or obstruct exits. Make sure you follow fire escape routes regulations and fire door regulations. And if your smoke cautioning system is incompetent, you’ll also be out of pocket. Don’t take the risk – be fire ready.
After a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell apartment building in West London, fire safety legislation came to the forefront. With the focus now on safety, apartment owners need to confront their building’s compliance. The fact is – fire defects in new apartments can remain concealed and evade yearly fire checks.
This global story put the Australian high-rise environment under scrutiny. Owners and tenants keen to confirm their buildings aren’t clad with combustible cladding.
A Victorian Government audit discovered 51% of the state’s buildings had non-compliant materials, noting two buildings at high risk. And when the NSW Government reviewed 178,000 of the state’s building projects, they found over 1,000 buildings had dangerous cladding.
On the back of these findings, building owners are encouraged to inspect their properties for fire safety, adhering to a 10-point plan. Here are some of the major fire incidents in the last two decades.
29.3% of non-residential building fires are related to cooking equipment. Even though they don’t cause extensive damage, these fires are preventable using fire alarms and extinguishers. Small measures for significant safety results.
Passive fire safety systems such as non-combustible building elements and protective coverings perform without altering their state when initially exposed to fire. Active fire safety systems, like smoke alarms and sprinkler systems, activate at the detection of heat, smoke or specific gases, or they’re used manually to actively suppress a fire.
Most fires occur in apartments, with cooking fires at the top of the list. These stay confined to where they start, and fatalities are rare. Sleeping and lounge areas are another common place for fires to occur. Often containing bedding and soft furnishings – this is where the most deaths happen. Offices are where the second most building fires happen, with electrical faults and lighting fixtures the main culprits. The subsequent order of building kinds affected by fire are shops, car parks and warehouses storage, industrial and manufacturing factories, health care and assembly buildings.
Less than half of building occupants know what to do and where to go during an emergency. They also can’t operate a fire extinguisher. When tested, less than a quarter know where the nearest extinguisher is without having to hunt around. Inaccurate use of an extinguisher can be dangerous, which is significant given over 50% of people incorrectly operate an extinguisher. In comparison, only 13% are aware they need to use different types of extinguishers on different classes of fire.
The promising fact is, quick application of the correct fire extinguisher puts out 95% of all fires. Readily found in workplaces, fire extinguishers are quick and easy to use. Annual evacuation exercises give occupants confidence to exercise emergency actions. After attending a basic training session and operating a fire extinguisher on a real fire – over 90% correctly used the extinguisher on their second attempt. 33% were more effective in putting it out.
With every new building, a fire safety certificate is issued by or on behalf of the owner(s). This document confirms all relevant fire safety measures have been installed and checked by a qualified person who upholds that these measures perform to the minimum standard.
In 2017, the NSW Government introduced reforms to fire safety certification for new and existing buildings to increase exactness and verification in the design, approval, construction and maintenance phases. In 2020, the government applied legislative changes, such as requiring accredited practitioners (fire safety).
The statement verifies an accredited practitioner (fire safety) has assessed, inspected and verified the performance of each fire safety measure that applies to the building. Annual fire safety statements, including all essential measures relevant to each building, must be issued yearly. It also affirms an accredited practitioner (fire safety) has inspected and confirmed the exit systems comply with the Regulation. Supplementary fire safety statements are issued more regularly, as specified in the fire safety schedule and apply to critical measures relevant to a building.
This person must complete certain specialist fire safety assessment functions required by the Regulation. Previously known as competent fire safety practitioners, only practitioners accredited by the FPAA can perform the functions of an accredited practitioner (fire safety).
For fire safety functions with no FPAA accredited practitioners, building owners or certifiers can determine that a person is an accredited practitioner (fire safety). There’s a guide for building owners and a guide for building certifiers. The fire safety practitioner page of NSW Fair Trading has further information.
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