Why do we need them?
The following is a little dry but provides you with the information your business needs to know about fire safety equipment maintenance and annual reporting.
As a building owner or occupier in Australia, you have a responsibility to ensure that all fire equipment installed in your building is being inspected and tested on a regular basis (reference Australian Standard AS 1851.1-2012).
Once the inspection of your fire equipment has been done, your service provider needs to supply you with a copy of the services records and results of the inspection. If the report indicates that any of your fire equipment has failed and needs rectification or replacement, then you are required to address those issues and keep those records along with all other maintenance records and reports.
Part of your obligation as a building owner or occupier is to then utilise these service records to create your State’s version of annual certification. Each State and Territory within Australia has different requirements that need to be carried out. The following is a summary of those requirements.
In Queensland, building owners and occupiers are to reference the following standards and regulations related to fire safety:
- BFSR-2008: Building Fire Safety Regulations – (BFSR)
- Queensland Development Code (QDC) MP6.1
- AS 3745-2010: Planning for Emergencies in Facilities
These documents advise that it is the responsibility of the owner, or the building occupier if the building is leased, to complete an annual Occupiers Statement. This statement lists all fire equipment installed at your location and confirms that it has all been maintained for the previous year (which is confirmed from the service or maintenance records). The Occupiers Statement is then submitted to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) annually.
An example of the Occupiers Statement can be found here:
Victoria, NT, WA, SA and Tasmania
As part of the legislation for the above states, it is an annual requirement for the Building owner or Occupier to issue an Annual Essential Safety Measures Report (AESMR).
The AESMR is a similar format to the Queensland Occupiers Statement. The AESMR needs to be completed, listing all fire equipment installed in the building, and confirming that the equipment has been inspected and tested for the previous year. Unlike Queensland, the Report does not need to be submitted to Fire Services, the overarching Government agency, or Council. However, the Report still needs to be completed and stored securely, together with your maintenance records, for when Fire Services complete their audits and inspections, or if the overarching government agency or Council requests them.
An example of an AESMR can be found here:
New South Wales
As of 1 July 2020, new legislation has been implemented by the NSW government under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. This legislation requires that every year, within 3 months of the anniversary date of your building’s certification, an Annual Fire Safety Statement Inspection must be completed by a FPAS Accredited Practitioner.
As part of the inspection, the Accredited Practitioner will need to gather all of the baseline data for the building, including the building’s Occupiers Certificate, Fire Safety schedule, and a copy of all of the service records for the fire equipment. A site visit is then conducted to compare this baseline data with the fire equipment installed on site, to ensure the equipment is still operational and installed as intended when the building was certified.
Upon completion of the inspection, and if the equipment is compliant, the Accredited Practitioner will issue an Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS), which is provided to the building owner to sign, and then submit to their local NSW Council.
An example of the AFSS form can be found here:
An example of what can go wrong!!
The following is an example of how easily things can go wrong if your business (and in this case, your service provider) is not following required standards, codes, and regulations.
You are a building occupier with fire extinguishers installed in your building. You contract a fire services provider to attend your site 6 monthly to complete required routine inspections, however they never send you copies of the service records or the results of the inspection. A fire occurs, and during the evacuation it becomes apparent that the extinguishers installed have very low pressure. The occupants trapped in the building are unable to put out the fire to secure an exit from the building and one of the occupants dies.
As the building occupier you are asked why the fire extinguishers did not work. You advise the authorities that the extinguishers were inspected every 6 months, but you can’t produce the service records. You then speak with the contractor and find out that 5 of the 6 extinguishers failed on the last inspection due to low pressure, but they had never been replaced.
Who is responsible for the extinguishers not being replaced?
The contractor will have some responsibility, however as the building owner or occupier it is your responsibility to ensure that all fire equipment is not only inspected and tested regularly but is compliant. You need to be able to ensure:
- the safety of all employees, clients, visitors, and contractors on site
- that all fire equipment installed will activate when needed, and
- that the equipment is readily available to be used by occupants in the event of a fire.