Marrickville Council has implemented a Fire Safety Program to ensure that suitable fire safety standards exist in all buildings.
Through an ongoing auditing program, particular emphasis is placed on inspecting existing residential development such as boarding houses and entertainment venues such as pubs, clubs and theatres. These developments present a high risk to life in the event of a fire and may need to be upgraded to ensure the safety of the occupants.
Development Applications and Construction Certificate Applications lodged with Council are also assessed to ensure the proposed buildings will comply with the fire safety requirements of the Building Code of Australia.
This information aims to increase general fire safety awareness, and develop an understanding of fire safety issues and how Council commonly deals with building fire safety.
The Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2005 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006 (PDF, 248KB) commenced in NSW on 1 May 2006.
The Legislation refers to residential and certain shared accommodation across NSW and requires:
- the installation of one or more smoke alarms in buildings in which persons sleep;
- smoke alarms installed in such buildings must be operational; and
- persons do not remove or interfere with the operation of smoke alarms installed in such buildings.
Do you live in or own:
- detached houses, terrace houses, town houses, villa units (Class 1a buildings)
- apartments, home units, flats (Class 2 buildings)
- caretakers flats, single residences above shops (Class 4 parts of buildings)
- relocatable homes, e.g. manufactured homes and moveable dwellings, but not tents, campervans, caravans or the like
- Factsheet: Owners of houses, residential flats and units (PDF, 109KB) Courtesy of Department of Planning
- small boarding houses, guest houses, hostels; backpackers accommodation; bed and breakfast accommodation (Class 1b buildings)
- large boarding houses, guest houses, hostels, backpacker accommodation; residential parts of hotels, motels, schools, health care buildings, detention centres; certain residential accommodation for the aged, children and people with disabilities (Class 3 buildings)
- hospitals and nursing homes (Class 9a health care buildings)
- Factsheet: For 'shared accommodation' buildings (PDF, 109KB) Courtesy of Department of Planning
If you answered yes to any of the above then the laws apply to you and you must have a minimum of one working smoke alarm on each level of your home.
Essential Fire Safety Measures
What is an Essential Fire Safety Measure?
Fire safety measures are any measures that are installed in a building to ensure the safety of persons using the building in the event of fire. The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 contains a list of statutory fire safety measures that have been incorporated into the building to ensure the safety of the occupants within the building in the event of a fire or other emergency, including:
- Access panels, doors & hoppers to fire-resisting shafts
- Automatic fail-safe devices
- Automatic fire detection and alarm systems
- Automatic fire suppression systems
- Emergency lifts
- Emergency lighting
- Emergency warning & intercommunication systems
- Exit signs
- Fire control centres and rooms
- Fire dampers
- Fire doors
- Fire hydrant systems
- Fire seals protecting openings in fire-resisting components of the building
- Fire shutters
- Fire windows
- Fire Hose reels
- Lightweight construction
- Mechanical air handling systems
- Perimeter vehicle access for emergency vehicles
- Portable fire extinguishers
- Safety curtains in proscenium openings
- Smoke and heat vents
- Smoke dampers
- Smoke detectors and heat detectors
- Smoke doors/Solid core doors
- Standby power systems
- Wall-wetting sprinkler and drencher systems
- Warning and operational signs
What is an Annual Fire Safety Statement?
From 1 July 2012, Council will be regulating the submission of the Annual Fire Safety Statement through the Annual Fire Safety Statement Register. Clause 182 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulation 2000 requires the owner of any building class 1b or 2 -9 to maintain each fire safety measure in that building in accordance with relevant standards of performance as per the Development Consent, Construction Certificate or a previous Fire Safety Order that was issued upon that property.
This clause places ultimate responsibility for the maintenance of fire safety measures on the building owner. Owners and occupiers must realise that maintenance of their fire safety systems is not just a moral obligation, but also a legislative requirement.
Each year, in accordance with Clauses 177 and 180 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulation 2000 the owner of a building must:
- forward a copy of the Annual Fire Safety Statement and a copy of the current Fire Safety Schedule to Council;
- forward a copy of the Annual Fire Safety Statement and a copy of the current Fire Safety Schedule to NSW Fire and Rescue; and
- prominently display a copy of the Annual Fire Safety Statement and a copy of the current Fire Safety Schedule in the building.
An Annual Fire Safety Statement is a statement issued by or on behalf of the owner of a building to the effect that:
a) each essential fire safety measure specified in the statement has been assessed by a properly qualified person and was found, when it was assessed, to be capable of performing:
i) in the case of an essential fire safety measure applicable by virtue of a fire safety schedule, to a standard no less than that specified in the schedule, or
ii) in the case of an essential fire safety measure applicable otherwise than by virtue of a fire safety schedule, to a standard no less than that to which the measure was originally designed and implemented, and
b) the building has been inspected by a properly qualified person and was found, when it was inspected, to be in a condition that did not disclose any grounds for a prosecution under Division 7 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulation 2000.
Building owners need to be aware of the date on which the Fire Safety Statement must be submitted to Council and make the necessary arrangements for the fire safety measures to be inspected and certified before this due date. Owners are advised to employ the services of a professional fire safety consultant who is suitably qualified and fully aware of the relevant Building Code of Australia Requirements.
All Annual Fire Safety Statements submitted to Council are subject to a registration fee. See our Fees, Charges and Concessions page for details.
A Fire Safety Schedule will be issued with the Construction Certificate listing the essential fire safety measures that are to be installed in the building. A Fire Safety Certificate must be submitted prior to the issue of an Occupation Certificate. This certifies that each of the specified essential fire safety measures are capable of operating to the performance listed in the Fire Safety Schedule.
Subsequently, an Annual Fire Safety Statement must then be issued every year.
Old buildings and buildings built before current Building Code of Australia standards are not exempt from fire safety requirements and it is the obligation of the owner to ensure that sufficient fire safety measures are in place.
It is necessary for owners to work with Council to achieve acceptable fire safety compliance and to undertake voluntary upgrades as needed by engaging the services of private fire safety consultants and engineers.
Where current BCA compliance is not achievable without substantial demolition and/or redevelopment, alternative solutions may be proposed to council by accredited professionals who have undertaken a detailed assessment of the building.
Owners of heritage buildings can contact The Heritage Council of NSW for guidance with fire safety compliance.
Penalties for Fire Safety Offences
Council can issue a range of other penalties for offences such as:
- Not displaying Fire Safety Certificates, Annual Fire Safety Statements, or fire safety notices on-site
- Failure to maintain essential fire safety measures
- Interfere, obstruct, remove or damage fire safety notices, fire doors, fire exits or paths of travel that lead to exits
- Failure to provide smoke alarms in any residential building in accordance with Smoke Alarms Regulation
All offences can result in fines being issued on-the-spot, and at the same the property may also be subject to an Order being issued so as to resolve the matter which caused the offence.
Aged Care Facilities
New Sprinkler System Laws
On 16 August 2012, the NSW Government announced that it would become mandatory for all residential aged care facilities to have an automatic sprinkler system installed. The new laws include the Environmental Planning and Assessment (Fire Sprinkler Systems) Regulation 2012, State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) Amendment (Fire Sprinkler Systems) 2012 and the Fire Sprinkler Standard.
The NSW Government is encouraging all facilities without a sprinkler system to install them as soon as possible to improve the safety of residents. Existing facilities will need to install a sprinkler system within 18 months, however some providers may request three years to complete the installation.
For more information see the Planning and Infrastructure website – Fire safety in aged care facilities.
If you need any further information please contact Council's Fire Safety Team on 9335 2222.
Please note this is a guide only to the relevant legislation, which should be consulted in the event of any required detailed interpretation. The Legislation includes: The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and Regulation thereunder, including the Building Code of Australia.
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