Fire safety practitioners

Fire safety practitioner reforms

The NSW Government has introduced reforms to fire safety to improve the quality of checks made throughout the design, approval, construction and maintenance phases of a building.

Certain functions under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation must be undertaken by an ’accredited practitioner (fire safety)’ or a registered certifier.

These include:

  • endorsing plans and specifications for relevant fire safety systems
  • endorsing fire safety performance solution reports
  • endorsing exemptions to the Building Code of Australia for minor works to existing relevant fire safety systems
  • assessing the ongoing performance of essential fire safety measures in a building and endorsing the annual fire safety statement.

There is no requirement to be accredited to install or do routine maintenance, testing and servicing of essential fire safety measures.

Legislative changes from 1 July 2020

On 1 July 2020, legislative changes updated the requirements for accredited practitioners (fire safety) (previously known as ‘competent fire safety practitioners’).

The only people who can do the work of an accredited practitioner (fire safety) are set out below.

Who can assess fire safety measures for an annual or supplementary fire safety statement?

Only a person accredited under an approved industry accreditation scheme can do the work covered by that scheme (see Approved industry accreditation schemes, below, for what is currently covered).

Some work is not covered by an accreditation scheme and may be done by a person deemed competent by the building owner to do the work. This includes the assessment of non-statutory fire safety measures (except emergency planning and alarm monitoring) that are not subject to a performance solution.

A non-statutory fire safety measure is any measure not listed in cl.166 EP&A Regulation.

Who can endorse plans and specifications for a relevant fire safety system before it’s installed?

People accredited under an approved industry accreditation scheme (see Approved industry accreditation schemes, below) can endorse plans and specifications, except for mechanically ducted smoke control systems.

Plans and specifications for a mechanically ducted smoke control system can be endorsed by a person who is the subject of a competency certificate issued by a certifier.

Plans and specifications for other specific systems can be endorsed by certain registered certifiers:

  • fire detection and alarm systems: by an engineer—electrical (previously C8) certifier
  • mechanically ducted smoke control systems: by an engineer—mechanical (previously C9) certifier
  • hydraulic fire safety systems: by a certifier—hydraulic (building) (previously C14) certifier.

Who can prepare performance solution reports or endorse proposed BCA non-compliances related to operational performance of relevant fire safety systems?

A person who is the subject of a competency certificate issued by a certifier may:

  • prepare a performance solution report for a fire safety requirement (cl.130 or 144A of the EP&A Regulation), provided the person is a registered certifier-fire safety (previously C10), if required under cl.130(5) or 144A(3) of the EP&A Regulation.
  • endorse a non-compliance with a specified provision of the BCA, relating to operational performance of a relevant fire safety system, involving minor modification or extension of that system (cl.164B of the EP&A Regulation).

How to appoint an accredited practitioner (fire safety)

Guidance on appointing an accredited practitioner can be found on the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website.

AFSS standard templates

Standard templates for an annual fire safety statement and supplementary fire safety statement are available from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

What if no accredited practitioner (fire safety) is available?

If no one is reasonably available to do the work, the building owner or certifier may seek authorisation from Fair Trading to appoint a person the owner or certifier deems competent to do the work.

Authorisation is needed before any appointment is made.

Approved industry accreditation schemes

The Fire Protection Association Australia (FPAA) accreditation scheme was approved on 1 July 2020.

The scheme covers:

  • endorsing the design of relevant fire safety systems: sprinklers, hydrants and hose reels, fire detection and alarm systems, but not mechanical smoke control systems
  • assessing the performance of essential fire safety measures for annual/supplementary fire safety statements
  • endorsing the following non-statutory measures for annual/supplementary fire safety statements: emergency planning and alarm monitoring.

Visit the FPAA for a register of accredited practitioners.

The FPAA scheme includes a transitional period for those who have not yet obtained a recognised qualification.

For more information, contact the FPAA.

How can my organisation’s accreditation scheme be approved?

Industry associations can apply for Government approval as a recognised accreditation authority of accredited practitioners (fire safety).

Our guidelines set the requirements an organisation must meet. These guidelines are being revised and will be published here soon.

The application process is summarised below:

  • Email your completed Competent Fire Safety Practitioner Accreditation Scheme Provider Registration Form (PDF, 156.89 KB) and other documents to Fair Trading at fsp.accreditations@customerservice.nsw.gov.au
  • If required, we can request more information within a set timeframe. If not provided, your application will be refused.
  • If your application is approved, your organisation will be able to accept applications and an order will be published in the Government Gazette recognising your scheme.

Your organisation must comply with ongoing requirements of recognition.

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