Overview – Essential Fire Safety Measures

In New South Wales the fire safety systems installed within buildings are called Essential Fire Safety Measures and are an integral part of the life and safety of occupants within commercial and public buildings in the event of an emergency or fire.

Maintenance is regulated to ensure the Essential Fire Safety Measures serving an effected building are always in place and in a working condition. The Essential Fire Safety Measures are to be in an operable condition throughout the year and an AFSS (Annual Fire Safety Statement) is required for each building to certify compliance with this requirement.

This matter is controlled and regulated via the NSW state legislation. The Environmental Planning and Assessment (EP&A) Act and associated regulations set out the requirements for the maintenance of the Essential Fire Safety Measures within a building. The regulatory details are further contained within Division 1-6 of Part 9 of the EP&A Regulation 2000.

“Essential Fire Safety Measures” are defined to mean any measure, including any item of equipment, form of construction or fire safety strategy that is, or is proposed to be implemented in a building for life safety purposes in the event of a fire. The Act captures new and existing measures and also caters for performance based designs. The term “Essential Fire Safety Measure” means it is a measure listed in the fire safety schedule for the premises. The schedule is prepared and issued by the relevant authority whenever a regulatory trigger is activated.

The EP&A Regulation provides a list of statutory measures which must be included in the schedule where applicable. The legislation allows the authority to also include other measures in the schedule at their discretion, as the statutory list may not cover what is needed. Consideration is also being given to expanding the scope of the application of the legislation in the future to provide for other types of building measures. These may include, but are not limited to, energy efficiency, access measures as well as certain building elements.

Essential Fire Safety Measures maintenance is applied to all buildings except for Class 1a and 10 buildings as outlined within Part A3.2 of the National Construction Code. This is irrespective of the size or age of the building. The frequency of maintenance of Essential Fire Safety Measures and the frequency of reliability inspections and tests throughout the year is not currently regulated in NSW. Affected owners have a statutory obligation to keep their Essential Fire Safety Measures in a working order throughout each year. Failure to do so is a breach of the legislation.

Essential Fire Safety Measures

Essential Fire Safety Measures

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