Fire and Building Safety
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 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
It is illegal to dispose of asbestos waste in domestic garbage bins. It is also illegal to re-use, recycle or illegally dump asbestos products.
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 than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos.
Asbestos is accepted at the following locations only (It is no longer accepted at the Tuncurry Waste Management Centre):
- Taree Waste Management Centre - 6843 The Bucketts Way, Tinonee.
- Gloucester Waste Management Centre - 385 Thunderbolts Way, Gloucester.
- Stroud Waste Management Centre - Simmsville Road, Stroud.
You are 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 24 hours before disposal.
Council prioritises the safety and wellbeing of staff and members of the public and has deemed the following requirements necessary to ensure disposal of asbestos is undertaken in a safe manner:
- All asbestos waste needs to be wetted, wrapped (or bagged) 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.
- Asbestos waste must be presented in a manner that allows the disposer to handle the waste themselves and in a manner that maintains the integrity of the sealed package(s).
- If the asbestos waste is presented in a state that does not comply with the stated standards, or in a manner that is not deemed acceptable by council employees or our site contractors, the waste may not be accepted.
Further information regarding the removal of asbestos can be found on SafeWork New South Wales website.
Refer to our fees and charges for disposing of asbestos.
Click here to view form.
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)
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has advised that a new template form for annual fire safety statements is now available. The form must be used from Monday 1 March 2021. Access the form and guidance material on the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s website.
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(s) of a building having a fire safety schedule is required to provide a Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) to both MidCoast Council and to the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW). Owners or managers must employ the services of an Accredited Practitioner Fire Safety (APFS) previously known as a Competent Fire Safety Practitioner to arrange for all fire safety measures to be inspected.
The building owner(s) or their manager must:
- be engaged in the fire safety statement process, as they are ultimately responsible for the legitimacy of the statement;
- engage an Accredited Practitioner Fire Safety (APFS) who is accredited in Fire Safety Assessment (FSA) and appropriately qualified to undertake assessment of each fire safety measure (Part 9 Division 5 of the EP&A Reg.) servicing the building. A list of APFS is available on the FPA Australia website https://connect.fpaa.com.au/FireSafetyAssessor. Once you have found an accredited practitioner you will also need to check that the APFS is also accredited to sign off on the specific fire safety measure(s) listed in the Annual Fire Safety Statement. To do this click on the details icon then click on the arrow to the left of the Fire Safety Assessor. If the person is not accredited for the specific fire safety measure you cannot use that person to certify that measure. For example, an APFS may only be accredited to certify portable extinguishers and therefore they cannot be used to assess any other fire safety measures listed in the AFSS;
- ensure all fire safety measures are maintained, in accordance with clause 182 of the EP&A Reg;
- declare that each fire safety measure has been assessed by an appropriately qualified APFS, then issue the annual fire safety statement accordingly.
The owner of the building must also ensure that:
- The Annual Fire Safety Statement together with a copy of the current Fire Safety Schedule is sent to Fire and Rescue NSW;
- A copy of the Annual Fire Safety Statement and 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. Council sends out a request for the AFSS three months prior to the date it is due to be submitted.
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 Competent Fire Safety Practitioner (CFSP) 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 fire safety measure(s) 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.
Further information is available on the NSW Fair Trading website https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ - search fire safety practitioners.
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.