Burning questions about fire inspections answered

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Recently, there have been a number of questions about fire safety inspections and measures on the Flat Chat Forum.

Last week, one of our Flatchatters, an accredited Fire Safety Practitioner, took the time to answer all three queries.

In this post, Flatchatter WMB asked about fire safety door tags.

All fire rated doors are required to have a tag on the door (hinge side) and also on the door frame (adjacent to the door tag) & the information consists of the manufacturer (or importer), year of manufacture & applicable standard/s the door & frame comply with.

A painted tag can have the paint removed & if the data is readable, the tag is OK. Otherwise the door has to be assessed by a specialist & a new tag attached, which has the assessor’s details & date of assessment.

There are limits on the allowable gaps between door & frame (3mm) & the bottom of the door (10mm).

If a gap is more than 3mm & less than 6mm, intumescent seals can be fitted to the door for compliance & if more than 6mm, the door must be replaced.

Legislation introduced by the NSW government on July 1, 2020 requires all fire safety measure to be certified by a Fire Safety Assessor (FSA) & if the FSA signs off on defects & it is found during an audit of the FSA’s work, the FSA can lose their accreditation.

As a result, FSAs are not as lenient as has previously been the case.

FYI, council certifiers haven’t inspected new buildings since 2000 & have never inspected existing buildings, unless someone made a complaint, council visit & may issue a Fire Safety Order.

In this post,  Fired-Up asked if fires safety inspections were a rip-off.

Generally, fire safety measures are to comply with the standards that were in force when the DA for the building was stamped by the local council.

In NSW, recent legislation requires a “competent fire safety practitioner” (CFSP) of the class “fire safety assessor” (FSA) to certify that the measures comply with the relevant standards & BCA clauses on the Annual Fire Safety Statement (or fire safety certificate for new or recently updated buildings.

Prior to the new regs, some fire protection companies would just sign off on the AFSS & not bother with some defects, as there were no penalties for doing so.

If a FSA signs off & it doesn’t comply, they can lose their accreditation & as a result, the FSAs are finding & documenting defects that could have been there since the building was built.

And in this post, GreyArea wonders why fire safety that was previously passed by other inspectors is suddenly deemed “non-compliant” by new inspectors.

Unless the building owners are required to submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement to council, fire safety inspections & testing are only done at the request of the strata or manager, usually for insurance reasons.

Some strata managers bring in fire protection companies to perform testing & inspections to cover their butt from liability claims.

NSW regulations require smoke alarms to be tested annually & to be replaced when more than 10 years old.

There are also regs specifying the quantities, locations & interconnected smoke alarms if there are more than 1 in a unit or house. They are also required in caravans, camper vans & boats – anywhere that people can sleep.

FYI Some strata management businesses are paid by fire protection companies to be on their “preferred service provider” lists.

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