NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, has announced major changes to the regulatory regime for fire protection systems.
From April this year, only Competent Fire Safety Practitioners (CFSPs) accredited under the Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS) will be authorised to endorse plans and specifications of fire safety systems.
The functions required to be undertaken by a competent fire safety practitioner include the annual assessment of essential fire safety measures (EFSM) and inspection of fire exits and paths of travel to fire exits.
CFSPs will also be responsible for the endorsement of plans and specifications for the installation or modification of hose reels, hydrants, sprinkler systems, fire detection and alarm systems as complying with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) before instalment, as part of new building work for which a construction certificate or complying development certificate has been issued.
Alternatively, plans and specifications can be endorsed by obtaining a compliance certificate from an accredited certifier.
Anderson said the changes would strengthen the state's building regulation and certification industry by improving the quality of checks made.
“Assessing performance of essential fire safety measures should be completed by a trained and competent fire safety professional according to a transparent accreditation system,” Anderson said.
The FPAS scheme, developed and administered by FPA Australia, will also oversee the accreditation of competent practitioners whose job it is to endorse the design of relevant fire safety systems including sprinklers, hydrants and hose reels, fire detection and alarm systems.
“We’re simplifying the process so a co-regulatory framework relying on the expertise of industry associations will accredit individuals and ensure that construction can continue, but not at the expense of safety,” Anderson said.
"Therefore, to avoid delays to construction and sign off, it is critical that there are a sufficient number of persons accredited in both Fire Safety Assessment and Fire Systems Design classes before April 6.”
The FPAS scheme is the only accreditation scheme approved by the NSW Government and will become operational in April 2020. There are also transitional arrangements under the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme for air conditioning and mechanical services contractors.
It is important to note individuals who collate Fire Measures Maintenance Reports on behalf of their company are considered to be an ‘Assessor’ under the FPAS arrangements.
The role of the Fire Safety Assessor (FSA) is to satisfy the competent fire safety practitioner aspects of Part 9 Division 5 of the EP&A Regulation, which includes identifying the standard of performance to which Essential Fire Safety Measures (EFSM) are required to operate and perform.
There are 32 individual EFSMs available under the Fire Safety Assessment class of FPAS accreditation including Fire Dampers, Smoke Dampers, Fire and Heat Vents and Mechanical Air Handlers.
The NSW Government has given industry two years to develop a formal Assessor Qualification.
Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors Association (AMCA) NSW is continuing to work with training package developers to prepare this formal qualification.