Fire and Building Safety

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There are several main factors concerning building safety that need to be considered when planning to build. Click on the header bars below for more information.


Asbestos

Asbestos is able to withstand heat, erosion and decay and has fire and water resistant properties. Because of these traits, it was widely used in the construction industry. It was banned in Australia in 2003.

Asbestos fibres are extremely hazardous. Breathing in dust containing asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis and lung cancers.

Generally speaking, there are two types of Asbestos which are  described as either 'bonded' or 'friable'.

Bonded asbestos cannot be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry. It was used commonly in buildings in various forms, including flat (fibro) corrugated or compressed asbestos cement sheets, water, drainage / flue pipes and floor tiles.

Friable asbestos material is in the form of a powder or can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry. Friable asbestos was not commonly used in the home, it was mainly used in industrial applications.

However, if fire, hail or water blasting damages bonded asbestos, it may become friable asbestos material (the fibres become loose).

It's really important to note that if you do need to work with any material that may contain asbestos, you must take all the necessary precautions to protect yourself and minimise the release of dust or small particles from the asbestos materials that may affect others in the property.

Disposal of Asbestos

All Friable asbestos should only be removed by a specialised asbestos removal contractor with a friable asbestos licence.  Licenced contractors can be found in the Yellow Pages under Asbestos Removal and/or Treatment.

From 1 January 2008 a bonded asbestos licence is required for the removal of more that 10 square metres of bonded asbestos.

To dispose of asbestos, firstly you need to contact us to locate your nearest lawful waste landfill site.

Asbestos is only accepted at either The Bucketts Way Waste Management Centre located at 6843 The Bucketts Way, Tinonee or Gloucester Landfill Facility, 385 Thunderbolts Way, Gloucester. It is no longer accepted at the Tuncurry Waste Facility.

You are then required to complete the 'application to dispose of asbestos' form below. The form must be completed and returned to the landfill facility a minimum of 48 hours' notice before disposal.

All asbestos waste needs to be wetted, wrapped in 200um thick plastic, and sealed with tape. It must then be clearly labelled as "asbestos waste" before it is taken to the landfill site in a covered, leak-proof vehicle.

Further information regarding the removal of asbestos can be found on WorkCover New South Wales website.

A another useful website site for further information is www.thinkasbestos.com.au.



Fire Safety Certificate and Annual Fire Safety Statement

All Class 2 to Class 9 buildings, which are subject to a building approval, construction certificate, complying development certificate, a fire safety notice or order by the Council, after 1 July 1998 need to have a Fire Safety Certificate and an Annual Fire Safety Statement. The statement does not apply to a single dwelling, villa, town house, garage or shed (Class 1 or 10 buildings)

Buildings these requirements apply to include:

  • Residential flat buildings
  • Some dual occupancies.
  • Townhouse developments.
  • Shops and restaurants.
  • Office buildings.
  • Public assembly buildings.
  • Nursing homes.
  • Industrial buildings and warehouses.
  • Places of shared accommodation.
  • Places of public entertainment.

The Fire Safety Certificate is required to be submitted to Council for applicable new buildings or completed works, before occupancy. This ruling comes under the provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

New buildings will have a Fire Safety Schedule issued with the construction certificate. The Fire Safety Schedule will list the essential fire safety measures that must be installed in the building or on the land and the Standards to which they must be installed.  A Fire Safety Certificate must be issued prior to the occupation of a building.

Existing buildings may not currently be subject to these requirements. However, many of these buildings will be subject to development consent, construction certificate or fire safety order in the future which may include these requirements.

Every twelve months after the Fire Safety Certificate is issued, an Annual Fire Safety Statement must be prepared by the building owner or manager and forwarded to Council.  The Annual Fire Safety Statement must certify that a properly qualified person has inspected the building, assessed the fire safety measures, and found that the measure is capable of performing to the relevant standard.

A copy of the Fire Safety Certificate and Annual Fire Safety Statement must be displayed in the building, in a conspicuous position. A copy is also required to be forwarded to Fire and Rescue NSW.



Fire Safety Measures

The types of fire safety measures that may need to be installed include:

  • Automatic sprinkler systems.
  • Emergency lighting
  • Exit signs.
  • Exit systems and paths of travel to exits.
  • Fire doors.
  • Fire drenchers.
  • Fire extinguishers.
  • Fire hose reels.
  • Fire hydrants.
  • Smoke detection and alarm systems.
  • Smoke exhaust systems.
  • Solid-core doors.


Fire Safety Schedule

Upon approval of a development for Class 2-9 buildings (as defined under the Building Code of Australia) a Fire Safety Schedule is issued, generally with the Construction Certificate.

The Fire Safety Schedule lists all the essential fire safety measures that are currently installed or need to be installed in the building as well as the performance standard to which each of those measures must be capable of operating. 

A Fire Safety Schedule can be issued with a development consent, construction certificate or complying development certificate.  A Fire Safety Schedule may also be issued if Council conducts a fire safety audit of the premises.  In some cases, existing buildings may already have a Fire Safety Schedule issued with a building application prior to 1997.



Who is Responsible for Fire Certification?

The owner of the building must ensure that:

  • Each essential fire safety measure has been assessed by a suitably qualified person.
  • Copies of the certificates are sent to Fire and Rescue NSW.
  • The Annual Statement is sent to Fire and Rescue NSW.
  • The current Fire Safety Schedule has been forwarded to Fire and Rescue NSW.
  • A copy of the Fire Safety Schedule is prominently displayed in the building.

Building owners or managers need to be aware of the date on which the Fire Safety Statement must be submitted to Council, to make necessary arrangements for the fire safety measures to be inspected and certified prior to the due date.

Owners or managers are advised to employ the services of a professional building and fire safety consultant to arrange for the essential fire safety services to be inspected, and also to obtain a Fire Safety Statement.

In the case of residential flat buildings or other strata buildings, the owners' corporation is advised to make prior arrangements, including the allocation of funds, for a building and fire safety consultant to inspect the premises and to provide the required certification and fee upon the due date annually.

Failure to comply with fire safety requirements is an offence and Council may issue a penalty infringement notice (on the spot fine) if the essential fire safety services are not fully maintained or if the Annual Fire Safety Statement submission requirements are not complied with.  Council may also serve a Fire Safety Notice and an Order requiring compliance with these fire safety requirements.

The relevant provisions regarding Fire Safety Certificates and Statements can be found in Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 .



Smoke Alarms

Legislation now requires all NSW residents to have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level of their home. This includes owner occupied, rental properties, relocatable homes or any other residential building where people sleep.

About 144 people have died in house fires in NSW in the past five years. Research shows that 60 per cent of these fires happen during sleeping hours.

Advice about the type, location and number of smoke alarms that need to be fitted can be obtained by visiting the NSW Department of Planning website.