This article discusses an overview of the changes to the NSW Annual Fire Safety Statements.
According to Strata Community Association (NSW) the definition of Annual Fire Safety Statements (AFSS) is:
- Annual Fire Safety Statements registered each year with local council confirming the fire safety measures in place. A motion to deal with the status of the AFSS is required on the AGM.
Changes in Legislation to Annual Fire Safety Statements
Annual Fire Safety Statements are required to be submitted to your Local Council and Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) each year outlining all Statutory Fire Safety Measures in the building comply with the relevant standard. This requirement is outlined in Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation (EP&A Regs) 2000.
Back in July 2017, the NSW Government announced a series of building regulatory reforms, largely in respect to fire safety, which came into effect on 1 October 2017. These reforms affect the Annual Fire Safety Statement NSW process and some changes may be required.
Changes affecting Building Owners and their Managing Agents
Fire safety is the primary focus of these reforms. The key changes that will impact Building Owners and the Managing Agents are:
- The introduction to ‘competent fire safety practitioner’ (CFSP) and the eventual requirement for CFSPs to be accredited, and a plan to recognise existing industry and government schemes that can accredit individuals; and
- A new template for Fire Safety Statements.
Competent Fire Safety Practitioners
Previously, the requirements to undertake inspections were by a ‘properly qualified person’, which wasn’t defined, meaning the inspector didn’t need to have any qualification or be licensed. The legislation has now changed and as of the 1st October 2017, assessments and inspections must be undertaken by a ‘competent fire safety practitioner’ in lieu of ‘properly qualified person’.
As with the introduction of new laws, there needs to be some time for the industry to adjust. Currently, there is only one option available for inspectors to become competent until the industry can provide suitable industry schemes (e.g. approved training courses). Until that time, it is the responsibility of the Building Owners to determine the competence of the inspectors.
The NSW Government has prepared a guide to assist Building Owners to determine competence. The steps are:
- Identify tasks that the fire safety practitioner will need to perform.
- Consider the fire safety practitioner’s competence to perform those tasks, including knowledge, skills, and experience.
- Establish and record an opinion of the practitioner’s competence.
Step 1 – Identify Tasks
Before considering the competence of a practitioner, owners should identify which kinds of tasks need to be performed.
- Assess essential fire safety measures;
- Inspect the building for exit system compliance breaches – fire safety notices, obstructed exits or paths of travel, faulty door mechanisms; and
- Assess fire safety alternate solutions – this will likely require specialist expertise to assess whether the fire safety measure can still perform to the standard expected.
Step 2 – Consider Competence
Once the tasks have been identified and described, the next step is for the building owner to consider the practitioner’s competence, including whether they have sufficient knowledge, skills, and experience.
: Fire safety practitioners should provide adequate documentation to building owners, detailing evidence of knowledge, skills, and experience.
Step 3 – Establish and Record Opinion
Based on the assessment of a practitioner’s knowledge, skills, and experience, the final step is to determine whether the person is a competent fire safety practitioner for the tasks required.
There is a new provision in the Regulation requiring that the building owner record in writing that in their opinion the person or persons selected are competent to perform the fire safety assessments and inspection.
New Annual Fire Safety Statements NSW Template
The main changes relating to the new Annual Fire Safety Statements template are Section 6 and Section 9, which require the details of each of the CFSP’s and the requirement for the Building Owner to sign the document, respectfully.
The new Annual Fire Safety Statements template now requires the details of all practitioners that inspected the building to be listed.
The new AFSS template requires the Building Owner to sign the document. This means that no longer can the Strata Manager rely on the maintenance contractor to sign off on behalf of the Building Owner.
How Can We Help?
Project Guides can assist in the following areas:
- Determining competence of maintenance contractors;
- Inspections and certification of passive works and paths of travel;
- Contract preparation and review;
- Management of Contractors;
- Review condition reports and quotes;
- Inspecting works on site; and
- Signing and issuing the AFSS’s.
For assistance with your Annual Fire Safety Statements NSW and to ensure we follow the statutory requirements, please contact Project Guides.
This post appears in Strata News #192
Question: Can NSW providers rescind an Annual Fire Safety Statements for non payment of invoices? If so, how is it legally done?
Answer: We are not aware of how a document like this can be rescinded.
We are not aware of how a document like this can be rescinded as the Annual Fire Safety Statements is completed as part of a regulatory process, and should have been provided to Council. At that point, the Council, and those using the building are relying upon it. In our view, it becomes an AFSS for the purposes of the Regulations.
This post appears in Strata News #275.
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