Fire safety and property compliance should be a key focus for every strata owner and manager. Under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 and the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018, all commercial property owners also have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of residents, tenants, staff and visitors.
As a strata owner or manager, you must maintain essential fire prevention measures as outlined in the legislation and in accordance with Australian Standards AS1851-2021 and local council requirements. You are also obligated to meet all compliance requirements, including Annual Fire Safety Statements.
It is a legal requirement for all buildings with public areas, including workplaces, to have an emergency plan that outlines steps to follow in the event of a fire or other emergency, and the roles of key personnel, employees and tenants. A strata board will generally use the same set of procedures for a residential building.
In strata properties, emergency measures typically include fire and evacuation diagrams and emergency signage. It is of course essential that fire emergency information is readily accessible by residents and tenants and that you conduct regular evacuation drills.
Fire safety is crucial to ensure the safety of your residents and tenants and also to protect assets and avoid disruptions that might result from a fire, such as business closures or tenant evacuation.
The first step in fire protection for newly constructed or altered strata properties is a Fire Safety Certificate which lists all fire safety measures in the property. This must be endorsed by a registered fire safety professional and approved by your local council.
A Fire Safety Schedule lists all the required measures and the standard each measure must achieve. Councils and accredited certifiers including certified fire protection professionals can issue Fire Safety Schedules.
Once safety measures are in place, you then need to provide council with an Annual Fire Safety Statement confirming that all fire systems are functioning. Legislative changes in recent years stipulate that only an Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety) can assess and endorse your fire safety measures. Once approved by council, the statement must be displayed in a public location in your building so that it is readily accessible during inspections by council or Fire and Rescue NSW officers.
Certain strata properties may also require the additional Supplementary Fire Safety Statement which lists any critical fire safety measures, and our team can provide all details after a site assessment.
Fire safety measures are fire prevention systems and equipment such as fire alarm systems, suppression systems, fire exit doors and extinguishers, that collectively help protect tenants, staff and visitors in the event of an outbreak. Fire safety measures may also include passive fire construction.
Essential fire safety measures generally include:
An Annual Fire Safety Statement is issued on behalf of a strata owner. It confirms that all fire measures listed in your Fire Safety Schedule have been checked and each will reference a Standard of Performance that the installed measure is achieving.
Our accredited team assesses, tests and services every piece of equipment and every fire system, including external alerts. Any change in tenancy or a fit out means we will need to provide you with an updated solution design and an updated Fire Safety Schedule.
You must submit your Annual Fire Safety Statements to both council and the Commissioner of NSW Fire and Rescue within 12 months of your previous statement, and within three months of the date of assessment.
As mentioned, proactive fire protection is essential to protect people and property, and it is a legal obligation.
It is an offence to fail to maintain essential fire safety measures in your strata block. And if you do not lodge your Annual Fire Safety Statement, if you submit false or misleading information or if you fail to submit your statement on time, council will request that you resubmit it, and issue a fine.
Fines for late, incomplete or missing Annual Fire Safety Statements vary per council but are significant – and this will not excuse you from further fire compliance requirements.
Should you fail to submit your statement and to respond to fines or council requests for the statement, it may lead to legal proceedings in the Land and Environment Court, with potential fines up to $110,000.
To discuss your strata Annual Fire Safety Statement or other fire protection needs, please contact us.