NSW Building Fire Safety Reforms

Competent Fire Safety Practitioner (CFSP)

The NSW Government made changes to improve fire safety in new and existing buildings effective from 1 October 2017. The term Competent Fire Safety Practitioner has been active since October 2017. The regulations also requires building owners to verify that their building meets the fire safety obligations by issuing Annual fire safety statement as well as mandatory submission of endorsed design plans and specifications for certain fire safety systems to the certifying authority.

A Competent Fire Safety Practitioner (CFSP) is a new term in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Fire Safety and Building Certification) Regulation 2017 (the Regulation). In this first stage of reform, in some instances, it replaces the term ‘properly qualified person’ previously referred to in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, and is also referenced in relation to fire safety design work.

The previous term ‘properly qualified person’ was not defined, but implied that an individual must hold a qualification to conduct an associated task. A key aspect of the reforms is to recognise that only competent individuals should perform certain tasks regarding fire safety, and that a qualification alone is not the only acceptable method of demonstrating competency.

The changes under the Amending Regulation include:

Design and approval

  • Mandatory involvement of ’competent fire safety practitioners’ in specific fire safety functions.
  • Mandatory submission of endorsed plans and specifications for certain fire safety systems to the certifying authority before those systems are installed.

A ‘relevant fire safety system’ is defined under the amended Regulation as meaning any of the following:

(a) A hydraulic fire safety system within the meaning of clause 165. Clause 165 defines a hydraulic fire safety system as:

(i) A fire hydrant system;
(ii) A fire hose reel system;
(iii) A sprinkler system (including wall-wetting sprinkler or drencher system); or
(iv) Any type of automatic fire suppression system of a hydraulic nature installed in accordance with a requirement of, or under, the Act or any other Act or law (including an order or a condition of an approval or some other sort of authorisation).

(b) A fire detection and alarm system; or

(c) A mechanical ducted smoke control system.

This term ‘relevant fire safety system’ is only referenced in relation to planning and specification design activities, not annual or supplementary fire safety statements, or final or interim fire safety certificates.

  • New and changed requirements for the documenting, endorsing and checking of non–standard fire safety designs (referred to as performance solutions / alternative solutions under the Building Code of Australia).
  • Limited exemptions from compliance with the Building Code of Australia for minor fire safety system works.

Construction

  • New inspection powers for Fire and Rescue NSW for multi–unit residential building projects.
  • New critical stage inspections targeting apartments and other buildings where people sleep.

Maintenance of fire safety measures

  • Assessment of the ongoing performance of essential fire safety measures must now be undertaken by ‘competent fire safety practitioners‘.

NSW Government Planning Circular: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/~/media/Files/DPE/Circulars/building-fire-safety-regulation-new-and-changed-requirements-planning-circular-2017-08-28.ashx