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Fire safety
What are the responsibilities of the building owner?
Owners of buildings such as commercial or industrial premises, residential flat buildings etc, have a legal obligation under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, to ensure that all fire-safety measures installed on the premises are maintained in good working condition at all times.

Building owners are responsible for ensuring that:

  • All fire safety measures are inspected by a properly qualified person to ensure the measures are being maintained to the appropriate standard;
  • Fire safety statements are displayed in a clearly visible position so that Council or NSW Fire Brigade officers can see them when inspecting the premises; and
  • All exit doors are kept in good working condition and corridors or other exit paths are kept clear of any obstructions.

These requirements are in place to promote the prevention and spread of fire. Fire safety measures assist in reducing the spread of a fire and early detection helps to save property and lives.

What is a Fire Safety Certificate?
Fire Safety Certificate (not to be confused with an Annual Fire Safety Certificate) contains details of an assessment of the fire safety measures in a commercial/ industrial building. It is required to be lodged with the certifying authority and the Commissioner of New South Wales Fire Brigade by the owner of the building or the owner's agent:

  • Before an occupation certificate (or interim occupation certificate) can be issued to allow a building (including an altered portion of, or extension to, a new building) to be occupied or used, or
  • Before an occupation certificate (or interim occupation certificate) can be issued to allow a change of building use for an existing building, or
  • In accordance with a fire safety order given by Council.

What is an Annual Fire Safety Statement?
Each year, the owner of a building to which an essential fire safety measure is applicable must submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement to Council for the building. 

Annual Fire Safety Statements are issued by or on behalf of the owner of the building. They declare that all fire safety measures on the premises have been maintained to the appropriate standards and that exit paths allow for the safe passage through the premises in the event of fire.

What is a fire safety measure?
A fire safety measure is any aspect of construction, piece of equipment or can be evacuation plans that are required to ensure the safety of people within the building in the event of fire or other emergency.

These measures include things like fire-rated construction, smoke detection and alarm systems, portable fire extinguishers, fire hose reels, hydrants, exit signs or evacuation plans. Fire safety requirements vary from building to building.

Why must I have my premises inspected?
The owner must ensure that a properly qualified person inspects each fire safety measure. The choice of person to carry out an assessment or inspection is up to the owner. The person who carries out an assessment must inspect and verify the performance of each fire safety measure being assessed.

Note: All paperwork provided by your service provider is for the owner only and must not be lodged with Council. It is important that records of inspections are kept by the owner.

How do I lodge my Annual Fire Safety Statement?
Complete all sections on the Annual Fire Safety Statement Form provided by Council and provide dates where required to do so. Check the form again for accuracy and completeness and lodge it at the council with the administration fee.

An Annual Fire Safety Statement for a building must deal with each essential fire safety measure in the building premises. It must be submitted within 12 months after the date on which the previous statement or the final fire certificate was given, and it must be lodged within three months of the date of inspection and assessment. The statement must be submitted to Council and NSW Fire and Rescue.

What will happen if I do not submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement?
Council treats fire safety issues seriously. Where required under legislation to provide a statement, the owner is responsible to ensure lodgment, regardless of whether the property is tenanted or vacant. As an owner, please consider:

  • Incomplete or late fire safety statements may result in a fine;
  • If this statement is not completed satisfactorily, you will be required to submit a corrected statement;
  • On-the-spot fines can be imposed against you for 'Failure to provide an annual/supplementary fire safety statement' and range from $500 to $2,000;
  • If a fine is issued, it will not excuse you from the need to submit a fire safety statement;
  • If you fail to meet your statutory requirements, council may take legal action against you and/or may continue to issue on-the-spot fines; and
  • Failure to maintain essential fire safety measures (which is a separate offence) can also result in a fine; the penalty in this instance is $1,500 and Council will impose this as necessary.

Residential smoke alarms
Legislation requires all NSW residents must have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level of their home. This includes owner occupied, rental properties, relocatable homes or any other residential building where people sleep.

Smoke alarms are already mandatory for all new buildings and in some instances when buildings are being renovated.

Smoke alarms are life-saving devices that provide benefits for occupants. They detect smoke well before any sleeping occupant would and provide critical seconds to implement actions to save life and property. Smoke alarms are designed to detect fire smoke and emit a loud and distinctive sound to alert occupants of potential danger.

What type of residential smoke alarm do I need?
You must install smoke alarms which comply with Australian Standard 3786 (AS3786). The standard should be clearly marked on the packaging.

If you previously installed smoke alarms prior to 1 May 2006 that do not comply with AS3786 they will be deemed to comply (providing that they are working and in the correct location).

The type of smoke alarm you require is dependent on the type of premises you live in or own. 

There are a number of different types of smoke alarms available: ionisation, photoelectric, carbon monoxide, alarms for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, alarms with emergency lights and special models for kitchens and relocatable homes. All of these smoke alarms differ in how they detect smoke and/or alert people.

Find out more about smoke alarm types from NSW Fire and Rescue.

Smoke alarms can also have varying power sources. They can either be hard-wired or battery-operated.

Find out more about smoke alarm power sources from NSW Fire and Rescue.

Where must I install my residential smoke alarm?
Most battery-powered smoke alarms can be easily installed by the home owner or a maintenance contractor and do not require professional installation. Hard-wired smoke alarms, however, will need to be installed by a licensed professional.

Always install a smoke alarm in accordance with their instructions. They are usually most effective when located on the ceiling, preferably away from walls and fitings. The best locations are in hallways leading from bedrooms and in sleeping areas.

Since smoke alarms respond to airborne particles other than smoke, it is better not to install them in kitchens, bathrooms, laundries and garages. If possible, avoid areas with strong drafts.

Note: If a garage etc is a separate level a smoke alarm must be installed.

Singleton Council
PO Box 314 Singleton NSW 2330
Ph: 02 6578 7290