Legislation Updates

Fire safety reforms for NSW

Rules are changing for fire safety practitioners in NSW. From April 2020, only accredited persons under the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS) will be authorised to endorse plans and specifications of some fire safety systems. While this will initially apply to the design of wet and dry fire safety systems, HVAC design is expected to follow later, in line with the 2017 amendment to the NSW Regulation.

For HVAC practitioners, the immediate change relates to annual fire safety assessments. From April, performance assessment of relevant fire safety systems for the purpose of annual fire safety assessments is expected to include HVAC, in addition to activities relevant to wet and dry fire. AIRAH (along with other HVAC representatives) has been providing support to FPA Australia during their development of assessments for mechanical accreditation, which they can then administer under their FPAS framework.

The scheme, developed and administered by FPA Australia, was originally intended to come into force in January. But the NSW government extended the FPAS gazettal date to give industry practitioners more time to gain accreditation.

It is proposed that FPAS will be gazetted on April 6, meaning that those practitioners currently performing annual fire safety assessments will be unable to continuing doing so unless accredited. This includes the four mechanical essential fire safety measures:

  • Fire dampers
  • Smoke dampers
  • Smoke and heat vents
  • Mechanical air handling systems.

NSW Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said this change will strengthen the state’s building regulation and certification industry by improving the quality of checks made.

“Assessing performance of essential fire safety measures should be completed by a trained and competent fire safety professional, according to a transparent accreditation system,” he said.

FPAS will also oversee the accreditation of competent practitioners whose job it is to endorse the design of relevant fire safety systems including sprinklers, hydrants and hose reels, fire detection and alarm systems.

“We’re simplifying the process so a co-regulatory framework relying on the expertise of industry associations will accredit individuals and ensure that construction can continue, but not at the expense of safety,” Anderson said.

“Therefore, to avoid delays to construction and sign off, it is critical that there are a sufficient number of persons accredited in both Fire Safety Assessment and Fire Systems Design classes prior to April 6.”

The FPAS scheme is the only accreditation scheme approved by the NSW Government.

More information on the co-regulatory framework is available on the NSW Fair Trading website.

For more information on the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme, visit the FPA Australia website.

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