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Fire Safety Regulation – Key Changes You Need to Know.

Stay informed and ensure compliance with the latest fire safety standards in New South Wales

The New South Wales (NSW) Government is constantly reviewing and updating its fire safety regulations to protect the lives and properties of its citizens. With the proposed changes to the NSW Fire Safety Regulation set to take effect in 2023, it’s crucial for property owners, managers, and occupants to familiarise themselves with the key updates. In this blog post, we will discuss the most significant changes you need to know and how they may impact your responsibilities.

Enhanced Inspection and Certification Requirements:

One of the primary updates in the 2022 regulation involves stricter inspection and certification requirements for fire safety measures. Building owners will have to ensure that their fire safety systems are inspected and certified by accredited practitioners. These practitioners must possess the necessary qualifications, experience, and insurance coverage to perform the inspections.

Streamlined Fire Safety Statements:

The proposed changes will simplify the process of submitting Annual Fire Safety Statements (AFSS) by introducing a standardized format. This will make it easier for building owners to provide accurate and consistent information, reducing errors and improving overall fire safety compliance.

Increased Penalties for Non-compliance:

To emphasize the importance of fire safety compliance, the NSW Government plans to significantly increase penalties for non-compliant building owners. Fines for failing to submit an AFSS or providing false information can be substantial, and repeated violations may lead to legal action.

New Training and Accreditation Requirements:

As part of the proposed changes, the government is introducing new training and accreditation requirements for individuals involved in fire safety inspections, maintenance, and certification. This will ensure that professionals engaged in these activities are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills, ultimately improving the overall quality of fire safety services in the state.

Improved Documentation and Record-Keeping:

The updated regulation will require building owners to maintain comprehensive documentation of their fire safety measures, including inspection reports, maintenance records, and certifications. This will make it easier for authorities to assess a building’s fire safety compliance and identify any potential issues.

Expanded Scope of Fire Safety Measures:

The proposed changes to the NSW Fire Safety Regulation will also expand the list of fire safety measures that must be maintained and inspected. This will include passive fire protection systems, such as fire-rated doors, walls, and floors, as well as emergency lighting and exit signs.

Proposed Costs

It is unknown whether the full costs outlined below would come into effect due to limits on information about buildings that do not use AS1851 and the difference between their existing maintenance regularity and process. However, it is assumed that the full costs below would not come into effect as some maintenance should already be happening beyond the annual fire safety statement inspection.

Costs of inspection, testing and routine servicing of fire safety measures based on applying AS1851 depend on the size and type of building and the number of essential fire safety measures in the building.

Indicative estimated costs per year: 26 Regulatory Impact Statement – Fire Safety Regulation 2022 Page 26 of 58.

For a small building with non-complex measures and no hydrant (and no fire panel, sprinklers, or pumps) could range from $850 per annum (Class 2 building) to $1,500 for a Class 5 building (small office).

A medium sized building could be $3,000 to $12,500 for a Class 2 or 3 building with some complex measures, hydrants and fire safety panel, sprinklers and pumps; or $3,500 to $8,500 for a medium Class 5 (office building) or Class 6 (shop).

Costs of $6,500 per annum and more are estimated for medium to large Class 9 buildings but according to the industry survey, there is already a high take up of AS1851 for these buildings.

For large buildings, Class 2 buildings over 25 metres in height with the full range of measures and which may be large complexes involving multiple strata buildings the cost could be $12,500 to $55,000 per annum.

This could increase for Class 3 buildings to up to $95,000 where multiple buildings are involved. For large Class 5 buildings (could cover multiple buildings), the range is estimated at $15,000 to $65,000 per annum, increasing to up to $75,000 for a large Class 6.

Helpful read – “Building and Construction Codes Save Lives” 

There could be some enforcement costs for councils and FRNSW to enforce AS1851 ie. for any site visits and consequent actions that included inspection of AS1851 records on site. However, these visits are likely to be part of existing compliance inspections covering other fire safety matters. (extract from the NSW Government Regulatory Impact Statement – Fire Safety Regulation – 2022)

Conclusion:

The proposed changes to the NSW Fire Safety Regulation 2022 are designed to enhance the overall safety standards in New South Wales. Building owners, managers, and occupants must familiarize themselves with these key updates and ensure compliance to avoid potential penalties and legal repercussions. By staying informed and proactive, you can contribute to a safer community for everyone.

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