How to select your fire safety assessor as per New South Wales law

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How to select your fire safety assessor as per New South Wales law

Choosing who will do the annual or supplementary fire safety assessments for your building is a big responsibility, as these checks are mandatory to keep buildings safe

The rules around fire safety have changed several times over the last few years. In 2017, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has updated the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulation 2000. Further changes occurred in 2020 when the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018 commenced. On 1 March 2021, further updates were introduced, with the most noteworthy change being that the term ‘competent fire safety practitioners’ (which describes who is authorised to sign off a building’s fire safety assessment) was replaced with ‘accredited practitioners (fire safety)’.

Here is what you should know so you can select fire safety experts to assess your strata property for safety and compliance:

  1. Who can assess your fire safety?
  2. How to select the fire safety assessor for your building?


1. Who can assess your fire safety?

It could be the difference between choosing a competent and certified professional or an unqualified person.

Earlier the regulations said a “properly qualified person” could get the job done. However, because “properly qualified” could mean anything, you could have inadvertently chosen an unqualified assessor, leaving your building at risk. Now, the definition is ‘accredited practitioners (fire safety)’, or APFS.


2. How to select the fire safety assessor for your building?

The Department of Finance, Services and Innovation is developing an accreditation process, which will make sure assessors meet strict criteria. They’ll then issue a register of competent fire safety technicians who meet all the standards. In the meantime, here’s are some useful notes and recommendations for strata property owners:

  1. Familiarise yourself with the guides and fact sheets: The New South Wales Government website offers a trove of information for building owners, including answers to FAQs on new fire safety requirements.
  2. Choose a qualified and competent fire safety expert: You may refer to the guide that details how to select an APFS. You can also search for an APFS here.
  3. Fill and submit the required forms: You are required to fill and submit the required forms, such as the annual fire statement and supplementary fire statement.
  4. Secure guarantee of fire safety compliance: A standardised annual fire safety statement (AFSS) has been introduced from 1 December 2017. This replaces the variety of statements accepted across different councils previously. The new AFSS acts as a guarantee that all fire safety measures within the building are operational and compliant. It will also contain a sign off by the APFS and owners/agent.
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Your strata manager and any compliance support staff will be able to assist you with your responsibilities around ensuring that your buildings fire safety measures are up-to-date and assessed by an ‘accredited practitioner (fire safety)’. We are here to help you access and interpret the new standardised norm and keep you aware of key dates, so you remain compliant.

If you’d like to find out more on building compliance for your strata property, download our FREE Community Living guide. Or to find out more on managing the health & safety for our property, find out more about our Community Health & Safety services. Our team is ready to assist you 24/7. Click here to find out more.

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