NSW government to improve fire safety in apartments

The NSW Government has announced changes to improve the design, installation, certification and maintenance of critical fire safety systems in residential apartment buildings, to further protect residents.

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said the reforms are the result of nine months’ work by a specialist working group made up of representatives from 16 organisations including fire practitioners, certifiers, strata and building managers, engineers, educators, councils and regulator.

“Fire safety is absolutely critical for those living in apartments and the NSW Government is committed to keeping residents safe. While we have already made significant reforms to lift standards in the industry, our research shows defects in fire safety systems are still the second most common in apartments. That’s why we commissioned this important work and will be implementing all of its recommendations,” Mr Anderson said.

The working group carried out a detailed review of the regulatory framework, industry practice and the role of regulatory authorities such as councils, Fire and Rescue NSW and NSW Fair Trading.

The review put forward a number of major reforms that will be progressed during 2022 including:

·         Establishing a new template building manual that provides the owners corporation and fire practitioners with key information on what is installed, how it should perform and essential maintenance requirements.

·         Tightening the regulation of fire safety work, starting with establishing a new category of certifier to verify the performance of installed systems.

·         Mandating improved quality and standards for fire safety documentation which is relied on for certification and inspection processes.

·         Enhancing the way that the main regulatory authorities work together, with strategies to deliver more consistent and effective approaches to compliance across NSW.

Fire Protection Association Australia Acting CEO Leigh Gesthuizen welcomed the NSW Government’s ongoing commitment to fire safety.

“This work is a significant step forward towards lifting industry standards and delivering a safer community, and the Association acknowledges the valuable contribution made to these reforms by its outgoing President, Bill Lea,” Mr Gesthuizen said.

The fire safety report forms part of the NSW Government’s Construct NSW transformation strategy to establish a more trustworthy residential building and construction industry by 2023.

To see the full report go to: www.nsw.gov.au/building-commissioner/building-and-construction-resources/research-on-fire-safety-reforms.

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