A guide to fire safety for business owners

Fire is a very real and unpredictable danger. It is important that commercial and industrial premises have adequate fire safety measures, that these meet Council regulations and that they are certified each year.

Essential fire safety measures

An essential fire safety measure is an installation, type of equipment or form of construction that is incorporated into a building for the purpose of protecting life, reducing the risk of injury, acting as an early warning or providing safe exits.

They may include things such as fire hose reels, exit signs, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, fire doors, smoke alarm and detectors. Every premises is different and requires different fire safety measures.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 provides a list of Statutory Fire Safety Measures. Use this link to Clause 166.

What if my building is Heritage listed?

All buildings included Heritage-listed buildings are required to have adequate fire protection. However, because of the sensitive nature of these buildings, there are special requirements that can be applied to assist in achieving a level of compliance whilst retaining the heritage value of the building.

The Heritage Council of NSW has a fire advisory panel that assists owners of heritage buildings with fire compliance issues.

Fire Safety Audit Program

The Fire Safety Audit Program has been developed as an ongoing process to ensure that buildings within the LGA have an acceptable level of fire safety. This may result in many older buildings being required to undertake a fire safety upgrading program.

This program has been undertaken in order to ensure local buildings do not constitute a fire hazard.

Building design and the level of risk posed to the occupants will vary from case to case, which will influence the upgrade requirements, fire safety priorities and costs involved.

An audit of a building can be triggered by any number of things, from a complaint from the public to a DA for change of use, a building upgrade etc.

With our older buildings, strict compliance can be impossible, but we will work with building owners to ensure an acceptable level of fire safety in accordance with the Building Code of Australia.

Fire Safety Orders

A Fire Safety Order will specify the works that Council requires to be undertaken to ensure adequate in the building.

Upon completion of all works, the owner will submit a Final Fire Safety Certificate, certifying that all works have been completed and inspected by a properly qualified person.

This certificate becomes your Annual Fire Safety Statement (see info below), which will be issued to the owner of the building annually.

Penalties can be imposed if you do not complete works in the Fire Safety Order. We will always first seek the owner’s cooperation in achieving the necessary upgrade. However, enforcement action may occur under the Environmental Planning Assessment Act 1979 if works are not undertaken.

An Emergency Fire Safety Order can be served on a building owner where it is considered that the level of risk posed to the occupants of a building is serious. The Order must be complied with immediately or Council will take legal action to have works completed.

Annual Fire Safety Statements

An Annual Fire Safety Statement is a statement that is issued every 12 months by the owner (or his/her agent) of a building that certifies the essential fire safety measures have been met and have been inspected and assessed by a properly qualified person.

The Annual Fire Safety Statement must be forwarded to Council, the NSW Fire Brigade and be prominently displayed in the building. A fee is to be paid when submitting the Statement to Council in accordance with Council’s Fees and Charges.

Council sends out reminder letters to owners requesting the submission of the Annual Fire Safety Statement. To assist building owners, the list of Essential Fire Safety Measures are attached to the letter and are specific to that property.

Building owners are liable to incur penalties if they do not submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement.

If you need more information and/or clarification on any fire safety matters, phone our Fire Safety Officer on (02) 6625 0500.

Helpful links:

Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979

Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000

Building Code of Australia

Australian Standards

Australian Institute of Building Surveyors

Fire Protection Association Australia

Building Professionals Board NSW