Annual Fire Safety Statements (AFSS) or Fire Safety Certificates as they are often referred is like getting an annual registration on building, just like you would a motor vehicle.
Once complete an AFSS list each of the fire safety measures or equipment required within the building and confirms they are functioning in accordance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) or National Construction Code (NCC) as it now know and relevant Australian Installation Standard.
There must be a current AFSS for the building to ensure it is safe and legal for occupation. It is the responsibility of the owner or the owner’s agent to ensure all fire safety equipment required within the building is checked and inspected for compliance by a Competent Fire Safety Practitioners (CFSP) or licensed assessor.
These fire safety measures are often very complex and therefore it is important to ensure that any equipment being assessed and certified is done so by an experienced and qualified technician.
Survival Solutions has been providing these services since 1998, and has an expert team on hand to help you today.
When a building is approved for construction, the owner of the proposed building, architect, fire safety consultant and at times engineers, will establish the use and size of the proposed building.
It is this use and size that determines what fire safety measures are to be installed. These measures form the fire safety schedule which establishes the required fire safety measures, such as extinguisher, exit lights, fire doors etc, that may be required and the minimum standard of performance they must meet. The standard of performance would be determined from the National Construction Code (previously the Building Code of Australia), which identifies the relevant Australian standards in which the measures must be designed and installed. An example would be Fire Extinguisher as the measure, designed and installed as required per the Standard of Performance (year) NNC reference E1.6, which specifies Australian Standard (AS 2444) year, which would be identical to the year the development Application (DA) was approved for construction.
Once this is established, the owner would select a builder to construct the building and a certifying authority, either private or council, Who, would review documentation and issue a construction certificate (CC) to manage the construction stage and final approvals for occupation of the building (OC).
Some of the more complex measures, such as detection, sprinkler and hydrant systems now require an independent assessment by competent fire safety practitioner CFSP, assessed by the certifier that specialises in these fields before an approval, such as a construction certificate can be issued.
As the building gets constructed, these required fire safety measures will be installed and certified as compliant to the required NCC and standards by various industry experts.
After the building is constructed, the owner, through the builder, must provide a fire safety certificate, which lists all the required measures and a minimum standard of performance in the fire safety schedule to the certifying authority such as private or council certifying authority.
At this stage in NSW, this process is still very much a self-certification process and one of the leading causes of non-compliant buildings. However, the NSW government is attempting to address these issues by way of certifying CFSP’s.
Once the certifying authority receives the fire safety certificate stating that all fire safety measures required have been designed and installed in accordance with the fire safety schedule and that they will perform to the minimum standard of performance, the certifying authority can issue an occupation certificate, allowing the building to be used for its purpose.
This fire safety certificate must now be displayed in a prominent place in the building which informs the building occupants that it is licensed for occupation.
As part of the building certification each measure, along with any alternate solutions listed on the fire safety schedule and installed within the building must documented in building asset register, which outlines the baseline data. It is this list of assets and baseline data that can be critical when it comes to engaging a contractor such as Survival Solutions as it is often the only way in which we can understand the type, location, quantity and purpose of installed assets.
In many cases a good fire service provider has enough expertise to understand the intent and likely location of assets, however at time the location and purpose can be vague.
If you require assistance locating this information Survival Solutions can assist.
The initial fire safety certificate is only applicable for twelve months from the date it was processed and must be renewed each year with a new document, which is called an Annual Fire Safety Statement or AFSS. This document is highly regulated by the NSW government and is required to allow continued occupation of the building.
If this document does not renew by the end date of the previous AFSS, the building is deemed to be illegally occupied, outside the condition of approval for occupation. The terms of approval for occupation state that there always be a current and up to date fire safety certification in place.
It is critical that you have in place a valid fire safety maintenance resume that supports the timely submission of this AFSS. Survival Solutions can manage the inspection routine and renewal of this document.
The NSW regulations call for the renewal of the fire safety certificate annually, and many consumers misunderstand the relationship between maintenance inspections required and the annual certification process. Most fire safety measures listed on these fire safety certificates will require inspection at least twice per year and sometimes monthly. The main standards that provide the guidelines for inspection are AS1851 and A2293.2, which have many guidelines for the routine inspection of different types of equipment.
The standards provide very clear guidelines as to the best practice for the inspection of different asset type, and there is an obligation on all building owners, strata managers and businesses to ensure these maintenance resumes are adopted, thus ensuring the equipment will work if required to protect the building occupants and assets.
In the past, many fire service providers may have advised that an asset was compliant without ever seeing the asset or understanding its intent. Now that the competent fire safety practitioner CFSP will be certifying these measures, owners and their agents may need to provide baseline data on assets that have not been identified and documented.
Servicing Sydney North, Central Coast, Newcastle and the Hunter, Survival Solutions can maintain your fire safety system and annual fire safety statement (AFSS) on a needs basis, or establish you as regular service client as required and manage your council obligation before they fall due.