The EPAA and Fire Safety: What You Need to Know

The EPAA and Fire Safety-What You Need to Know

New South Wales has a strict system when it comes to fire safety under the EPAA.

Property owners and managers must always be on top of everything regarding the buildings they own or manage, including fire safety and evacuation training. In New South Wales, a fire safety standard must be followed when maintaining or building properties. These standards all fall under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

What is the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act?

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act or EPAA provides the regulatory standards and requirements needed for property and infrastructure maintenance and development in NSW. This act governs matters related to planning instruments, planning administration, building certification, and development assessments, among others. Initially introduced in 1979, the latest update on EPAA was enforced in 2018.

What are the Main Objectives of the EPAA?
The EPAA and Fire Safety: What You Need to Know - Fire Safety

What are the Main Objectives of the EPAA?

Overall, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act seeks to promote the community’s welfare by providing a better and safer environment through proper management and development. Its goal is to encourage property owners and their consulting partners to advocate for the proper construction and maintenance of buildings.

Effective 2018, the NSW government enforced key changes to the legislation. Its goals were to enhance community participation, promote strategic planning, increase the sense of transparency and accountability in decision making, and create a faster and more efficient process. The latest update also introduced fire safety regulation changes in New South Wales. 

Fire Safety and Prevention and the EPAA
The EPAA and Fire Safety: What You Need to Know - Fire Safety

Fire Safety and Prevention and the EPAA

New South Wales has a strict system when it comes to fire safety under the EPAA. Building owners should do annual maintenance checks on all aspects of fire prevention and safety, including but not limited to evacuation training, emergency training, evacuation diagrams, and evacuation equipment.

Here are some of the most important things building owners and property managers should know regarding fire safety and prevention under EPAA:

Maintenance checks should be carried out annually

The government has an Annual Fire Safety Statement deadline that property owners should comply with. The statement includes the responsibilities of the building owners and a confirmation that an accredited consulting practitioner for fire safety has inspected the property. Failure to comply with the given deadline means facing charges and fines.

Property owners can provide annual and supplementary fire safety statements

There are two types of fire safety statements in NSW: the annual fire safety statement and the supplementary fire safety statement.

As its name suggests, the annual fire safety statement should be made yearly. This statement must indicate that all the essential fire safety measures in the property are maintained properly every year.

As for the supplementary fire safety statement, this indicates that the critical fire safety measures of the building are maintained more frequently, such as twice a year. 

Only competent fire safety practitioners can assess the fire safety measures of a property

Before the 2017 update on EPAA, property owners selected “properly qualified persons” to carry out the checking and inspection of the fire-readiness of a building. However, the general attributes of a “properly qualified person” were not specified back then. This means that building owners can technically choose their evaluators freely without a guarantee of quality.

After the 2017 revision, building owners became required to select “competent fire safety practitioners”. Depending on the type of building to be checked, more than one competent fire safety practitioner may be necessary. 

The property owners cannot just select a random person to be their evaluator. Instead, owners are required to record their opinion on the competence of the selected individual. This is a form of accountability on the part of the building owners. Now, they must think about the qualifications of the person first before they finalise the chosen evaluator. The evaluators should also be accredited under the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme hosted by the Fire Protection Association Australia.

All buildings must have the Essential Fire Safety Measures.

In New South Wales, buildings need to have safety systems called the Essential Fire Safety Measures. These systems are necessary to make sure that in the event of a fire emergency, the occupants of the building will be able to evacuate successfully and safely.  Here are the most common safety measures in NSW buildings:

  1. Automatic fire alarm and detection systems
  2. Automatic systems for fire suppression
  3. Emergency exit signs and lighting
  4. Fire hydrants, fire hose reels, and portable fire extinguishers
  5. Mechanical air-handling systems and fire doors
  6. Fire-resistant and lightweight construction materials.

With the help of these Essential Fire Safety Measures, there’s a higher likelihood for fires to slow down before it gets worse. These also allow occupants to have the opportunity to evacuate once prompted by their evacuation wardens. 

How to Choose Competent Fire Safety Practitioners
The EPAA and Fire Safety: What You Need to Know - Fire Safety

How to Choose Competent Fire Safety Practitioners

Building owners will be responsible for selecting their evaluators. The Department of Planning and Environment outlined three basic steps property owners should follow when selecting their evaluator:

  1. They should list down and identify all the tasks the fire safety practitioner will need to perform. Depending on the scale of the property, more than one fire safety practitioner may be essential.
  2. Property owners must make sure that the skills, experience, and knowledge of the chosen individual is in line with the tasks they need to perform.
  3. After selecting their fire safety practitioner, the property owner should record their opinion on the competence of the individual.

Additionally, the fire practitioner must complete a fire safety assessment required by the Fire Protection Association, Australia (the FPAA). Only accredited practitioners can perform the official functions of a fire safety practitioner.

Adair Evacuation Consultants are Your Competent Fire Safety Practitioners

If you are looking for competent fire safety practitioners that are accredited by the Fire Protection Association, Australia (the FPAA), you don’t need to look far. Adair Evacuation Consultants can provide various services related to evacuation training and emergency training in NSW, including fire safety assessments.

Here at Adair, we believe that all aspects of fire safety should be given importance, from checking equipment to ensuring proper training. So, the client services management of Adair Evacuation Consultants commits to ensuring that properties for checking have excellent evacuation diagrams, evacuation equipment, procedure manuals, and proper warden training.

If you’re due for a fire safety statement soon, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Contact us on 1300 213 000 or email us at info@adairevac.com.au and we will respond as soon as possible.