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FAQ’s

FAQ’s

NSW Reforms – Fire Safety Regulation and Certification Frequently Asked Questions

(Q1): What are the new reforms?

ANSWER: – In July, the New South Wales Government announced a series of reforms to fire safety regulation and certification, developed following recommendations made by the independent Lambert Review. The Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Fire Safety and Building Certification) Regulation 2017 represents the first stage of reforms.

(Q2): When do the new Regulations come into force?

ANSWER: – The new Regulations come into force on 1 October 2017.

(Q3): What is this new term ‘competent fire safety practitioners’ (CFSP)?

ANSWER: – ‘Competent fire safety practitioners’ (CFSP) is a new term in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Fire Safety and Building Certification) Regulation 2017 (the Regulation). In this first stage of reform, in some instances, it replaces the term ‘properly qualified person’ previously referred to in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, and is also referenced in relation to fire safety design work.

The previous term ‘properly qualified person’ was not defined, but implied that an individual must hold a qualification to conduct an associated task. A key aspect of the reforms is to recognise that only competent individuals should perform certain tasks regarding fire safety, and that a qualification alone is not the only acceptable method of demonstrating competency.

(Q4): What tasks require ‘competent fire safety practitioners’ (CFSP) under the amended Regulation?

ANSWER: The table below provides an indication of the tasks required to be performed by CFSP under the amended Regulation. Future stages of the reform may require ‘competent fire safety practitioners’ (CFSP) to be engaged to perform system certification and routine servicing tasks. However this is subject to further regulatory change.

Task Competent Fire Safety Practitioners – Required by New Regulations?

Develop a performance solution under the Building Code of Australia.

YES
(Including the need to be a fire safety engineer in some instances – see clause 130(5)).

Preparation of plans and specifications for installation (system design), extension or modification of a ‘relevant fire safety system’ (see Q5 below).

Preparation of plans and specifications for installation (system design), extension or modification of a ‘relevant fire safety system’ (see Q5 below).

YES
(Including the need to be a fire safety engineer in some instances – see clause 130(5)).

Application to exempt compliance of a relevant fire safety system (see Q5 below).

YES
Unless the plans and specifications have been certified by a compliance certificate referred to in section 109C(1)(a) of the Act as complying with the relevant provisions of the Building Code of Australia.

Assessment of essential fire safety measure performance for the purpose of an Annual Fire Safety Statement (fire safety assessment).

YES
A CFSP who did not prepare the plans or specifications must endorse the proposed non-compliance before a certifying authority can provide exemption.

Assessment of essential fire safety measure performance for the purpose of a supplementary fire safety statement (fire safety assessment).

YES
(Note: Clause 176(3) of the Regulation requires an assessment to inspect and verify the performance of each fire safety measure being assessed. This is separate to inspection for the purpose of routine service).

Assessment of essential fire safety measure performance for the purpose of a supplementary fire safety statement (fire safety assessment).

Preparation of a final fire safety certificate (system certification).

NO
(Requirement to use a ‘properly qualified person’ remains).

Preparation of an interim fire safety certificate (system certification).

NO
(Requirement to use a ‘properly qualified person’ remains).

Undertaking routine service (inspect, test and preventative maintenance).

NO
(No current provisions).

(Q5): The amended Regulation refers to a ‘relevant fire safety system’; what is this?

ANSWER: A ‘relevant fire safety system’ is defined under the amended Regulation as meaning any of the following: (a) A hydraulic fire safety system within the meaning of Clause 165. Clause 165 defines a hydraulic fire safety system as;

  • (i) A fire hydrant system;
  • (ii) A fire hose reel system;
  • (iii) A sprinkler system (including wall-wetting sprinkler or drencher system); or
  • (iv) Any type of automatic fire suppression system of a hydraulic nature installed in accordance with a requirement of, or under, the Act or any other Act or law (including an order or a condition of an approval or some other sort of authorisation).
  • (b) A fire detection and alarm system; or
  • (c) A mechanical ducted smoke control system.

This term ‘relevant fire safety system’ is only referenced in relation to planning and specification design activities, not annual or supplementary fire safety statements, or final or interim fire safety certificates.

(Q6): ‘Competent fire safety practitioners’ (CFSP) defined?

ANSWER: Yes.
A new clause 167A confirms that government can recognise a class of persons as ‘competent fire safety practitioners’ for the purposes of one or more provisions of the Regulation. The classes of persons are not limited, so government can recognise any demonstration of competency that it chooses. However, the Regulation identifies that these classes may include:

  • (a) A class of person holding a specified category of certificate of accreditation under the Building Professionals Act 2005;
  • (b) A class of persons holding a specified category of certificate of accreditation under the Building Professionals Act 2005 and having some other characteristic or qualification; or
  • (c) A class of persons who have undergone particular training or assessment carried out by a specified professional organisation or body or an industry organisation or body.
Industry Accreditation Schemes currently under development are intended to satisfy the requirements of (c).

Recognition of a class of persons as ‘competent fire safety practitioners’ will be via publication in the government Gazette by the Secretary of the Department of Finance.

(Q7): How does FSD demonstrate CFSP status prior to recognition of an industry accreditation scheme?

ANSWER: Between 1 October and recognition of an accreditation scheme, the NSW Government has advised building owners to satisfy themselves that the fire protection practitioners they select are competent.

As mentioned above, the requirements before the reforms; required fire safety statements to be prepared by a ‘properly qualified person’, without guidance on how this was determined.

Diligent practitioners may not therefore have to make any changes prior to an accreditation scheme being recognised, if they can satisfy their customers that they are competent. The NSW government has advised via a recent fact sheet here that they intend to publish a guideline in relation to this transitional period and what to do in the interim.

FSD understands the guideline will provide a template form for fire protection practitioners to submit to building owners/managers/agents, to demonstrate competence. FSD will provide further information once this guideline is published.

Prior to 1 October, in order to assist building owners and industry to identify practitioners likely to be competent, FSD will qualify as Competent Fire Safety Practitioners, due to:

  • (i) FSD have experience in conducting fire safety assessments to inform owners required to issue an Annual or Supplementary Fire Safety Statement;
  • (ii) FSD are members of relevant Fire Protection Industry Associations and has committed to various requirements for insurance and a code of practice; and
  • (iii) FSD has committed to applying for future accreditation in the classification of Accredited Fire Safety Assessor, when it becomes available.

Furthermore, NSW Government is currently considering that an appropriate transition period is provided between when an industry scheme is recognised and when individuals acting as ‘competent fire safety practitioners’ (CFSP) must be accredited by such a scheme.

(Q8): Will the Accreditation Schemes like the Fire Protection Association Australia (FPAA) - Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS) be recognised by the NSW reforms?

ANSWER: FPA Australia is applying to have a number of Accreditation Classifications and Schemes e.g. FPAS recognised under the amended Regulation.

The FPAA is also developing a new class of accreditation to be known as Fire Safety Assessor, which is tailored to fit the new regulatory requirements for professionals such as FSD for regularly conduct assessments for the purposes of Annual and Supplementary Fire.

Safety Statements (see Regulation 175).

These classes of accreditation will address the requirements under the Regulation, and FSD is confident that scheme such as FPAS will meet the co-regulatory accreditation framework requirements for recognition of industry accreditation schemes.

FSD is aware that there is already an increasing demand from building owners and certifying authorities for accreditation of practitioners as a ready means to demonstrate competence for these tasks.

(Q9): Why is it now so important for Building Owners and Managers to only deal with Fire Protection and Essential Service Industry Practitioners that embrace the new NSW Reforms and especially the Competent Fire Safety Practitioner Status

ANSWER: There has always been a requirement to be competent. However, the new Regulation now requires building owners to provide details of and sign-off by ‘competent fire safety practitioners’ for Annual and Supplementary Fire Safety Statements. Templates for these Statements are being prepared by the NSW Government, and FSD will provide details when available.

The Regulation requires owners and certifying authorities to provide a written opinion that the practitioner they have used is competent, prior to recognition of industry schemes.

Fire System Design & Certification (FSD) will walk you through the requirements of the New Reforms and will comply with Interim Accreditation that is deemed necessary to be ‘Competent Fire Safety Practitioners’

For further Information please do not hesitate to contact the Team at “Fire System Design & Certification”