Legislation Updates

Industry offers guidance on fire safety practitioners

AIRAH, the AMCA, FMA and FPA Australia have written to certifying organisations to provide guidance on selecting fire safety practitioners in New South Wales.

New requirements have been introduced for fire safety practitioners in NSW. The previously named competent fire safety practitioners (CFSP) are now called Accredited Practitioners (Fire Safety), or APFS, and must be accredited under the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS) where this is applicable.

Alternatively, for design of non-FPAS disciplines (such as mechanical services), there is scope for the certifier to independently assess a practitioner’s competence and experience. This is currently the case for mechanical engineers working in fire safety aspects of HVAC design.

But how does a certifier assess whether a practitioner is competent? Without any independent accreditation scheme in place, this becomes a difficult undertaking, with considerable risk.

Work is under way to develop this accreditation pathway, but until it is available, the NSW government has recommended that registration in the class of “engineer – mechanical” with NSW Fair Trading (previously known as C9) should be accepted. However, this class of registration has not been widely taken up since its introduction in the early 2000s. Only 30 or so mechanical engineers have it. Nor, say the above organisations, is it the best measure of an engineer’s competence in this area of design.

The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH), the Air Conditioning & Mechanical Contractors’ Association (AMCA), Facility Management Association of Australia (FMA) and Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia), are recommending a selection of criteria likely to reflect a mechanical designer’s experience and competency in this particular field of design.

According to the organisations, the advice is aimed at providing “a consistent, non-biased approach” and offering a way for industry to “bridge the gap until formal pathways are available in these areas”.

To read the letter, click here.

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