Endorsing the Annual Fire Safety Statement vs Designing, Installing and Commissioning.

When it comes to safeguarding your property from potential fire hazards, it’s not as simple as just putting in a smoke alarm and checking the battery every now and then. There is a lot more to the process to ensure the safety of the tenants, the building and compliance under NSW law.

At Betta Fire Protection, our mission is to keep people, property and precious assets safe by making sure everyone understands the process and that it is completed to the correct industry standards in the necessary order.

Excluding routine maintenance, we can categorise Essential Fire Safety Measures (EFSM) into 4 stages:

1. Designing Your EFSM

Contrary to what you may think, it’s never too early to start preparing your essential fire safety measures (ESFM).

Whilst it may seem like jumping the gun a little, the design of the EFSM can start even when you’re still in the planning and designing stage of a building.

In fact, this is the BEST time to do so, as the design must comply with the requirements of the relevant Australian Standards for installation and manufacturing, and must conform to the minimum standard of performance.

This can vary by location so be sure to find out the regulations prior to beginning any design work or plans.

2. Installing Your EFSM

There must be a comprehensive plan and approved design in place for any installation to proceed. Installation must be carried out according to strict guidelines, but remember, what’s on paper does not always translate into the real world.

Minor variances from the original design are allowed as long as they still comply with the standards of performance. However, it is vital to check if they still meet requirements before making any changes. All changes need to be documented and form part of the baseline data.

3. Commissioning Your EFSM

Commissioning your EFSM should be the final stage to ensure the installation has been completed as per the approved design, and that the system meets the minimum standard of performance. Ask the experts at Betta Fire protection to commission all your equipment and EFSMs. We’re here to help.

4. AFSS (Annual Fire Safety Statement)

When you invest in something like a car or an air conditioner, maintenance is a necessary part of keeping everything running to prevent major failures in the future. The same goes for ESFMs.

Twelve months after the original occupation date, the building owner needs to submit an AFSS (Annual Fire Safety Statement). This statement ensures that the EFSMs still meet the minimum standard of performance as required by the approved design.

The building owner must use a competent fire safety practitioner (CFSP) to assess these measures. The CFSP will generally use AS1851 as a guide for what to check, how often and when to carry out repairs.

However, it is essential that all EFSMs have been correctly designed, installed and commissioned.

As an example, the CFSP will check that the detector spacing still looks correct and no modifications to the build have changed the spacing requirements. The CFSP does not get a tape measure out and measure between the devices; they assume all these measurements were taken during the design, installation and commissioning phase and meet regulation.

Clearly, there are scenarios when this can create a conflict for the CFSP when it comes to endorsing the AFSS. For example, AS1670 requires smoke detectors to be not more than 10m apart. The CFSP can see from a quick visual assessment that one detector is greater than 10m from the next device.

If this spacing is as per the ‘approved’ designed, and the CFSP is not there to redesign or recommission, then there is a school of thought that says the CFSP can endorse the measure. Yet, it does not meet the minimum standard of performance, AS1670. And the CFSP can only endorse when it meets this minimum standard of performance. It’s a tricky situation.

In practice, they have to use their judgment to try to find evidence as to why the approved design allowed for this extended spacing. At the end of the day, the CFSP is putting their name and accreditation number on the AFFS.

If they can’t see any reason for this variation to AS1670, they have to err on the side of caution and request a modification is made to the detector before they endorse the measure. It may sound like hassle, but it’s safer and more compliant for everyone.

As one of the most reputable companies in the industry, Betta Fire Protection offers compliance that you can trust with only accredited CFSP’s endorsing AFSS’s. Contact us today on (02) 8669 9100.