(Commenced 1 October 2017)
The Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Fire Safety and Building Certification) Regulation 2017 came into effect as part of an extensive reform package that has been proposed by the NSW Government to improve building and planning laws in NSW.
The new Regulations specifically provide fire safety reforms designed to improve fire safety in new and existing buildings.
Key to the changes is the replacement of the requirement for assessments and inspections by "a properly qualified person" chosen by the owner with the requirement of a competent fire safety practitioner.
Changes presented by the new Regulations include:
· Mandatory involvement of ‘competent fire safety practitioners’;
· Mandatory submission of endorsed plans and specifications for certain fire safety systems to the certifying authority before the installation of those systems;
· New and limited exemptions from compliance with the BCA for minor fire safety system work;
· New critical stage inspections for targeting apartments and other buildings where people sleep;
· New requirements for documenting, endorsing and checking non standard fire safety designs (alternative solutions) for class 1b to 9 buildings; and
· Assessment of the ongoing performance of essential fire safety measures must now be undertaken by ‘competent fire safety practitioners’.
COMPETENT FIRE SAFETY PRACTITIONER
For the recent Reforms, a competent fire safety practitioner is required to be accredited by an approved industry organisation to undertake functions outlined in recent amendments.
Those functions include:
· endorsing plans and specifications for relevant fire safety systems;
· endorsing fire safety alternative solution reports;
· endorsing exemptions to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) for minor works to existing relevant fire safety systems; and
· undertaking the annual fire safety statement assessment of buildings.
Before the amendments, assessments, and inspections were carried out by "properly qualified persons" chosen by the building owner.
The changes were intended to provide building owners with greater clarity and certainty on how to identify a competent fire safety practitioner.
Under Clause 167A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 the Secretary of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation was given the power to recognise a class of persons as competent fire safety practitioners for the purposes of one or more provisions of this Regulation.
As this part of the legislation has not yet been enacted the responsibility for assessing who is a competent fire safety practitioner rests with the relevant certifying authority or principal certifying authority for matters that relate to Complying Development Certificates and Construction Certificates and the building owner for matters that relate to Fire Safety Certificates and Annual Fire Safety Statements.
Building Fire Safety Regulation new and changed requirements issued by NSW Planning and Environment http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/~/media/Files/DPE/Circulars/building-firesafety-regulation-new-and-changed-requirements-planning-circular-2017-08-28.ashx. Retrieved from http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/Under-review-and-new-Policy-andLegislation/Building-Regulation-and-Certification-Reform. Accessed on 27.09.2018.