Let’s all be one’s who think about our community and do whatever it takes to keep them healthy.
Let’s all be one’s who think about our community and do whatever it takes to keep them healthy.
This journey has been some twenty years in the making and there are a number of people and events to recall as an integral part of the journey and the author apologises for not including everyone and everything:-
Current National Committee
Alan Coote National Chair & TAS Rep. Specialist BSE Electrical
Alan Obrart Deputy National Chair NER-Mechanical and
Terry Spiro National Treasurer NER-Mechanical and
Graham Agar National Secretary, WA Rep. Specialist BSE Practitioner
Prof. David Hood, AM QLD Representative Engineering Sustainability
Ian Childs NSW Representative Specialist BSE and
Brett Fairweather National & Liaison Rep. BSE Mech. Standards &
Roger Blackwell National Representative NER-Mechanical and
Peter Murton SA Representative Building Services Design
Anthony Dorinko VIC Representative Buildings Services Engineering
Re Launch of SBSE
The re launch in 2014 was a significant event and achieved the following:-
Over the last few years SBSE has moved quickly to be recognized as the only organization in Australia to have BSE Certification and achieve the following:-
SBSE continues to grow and now has representation on a number of EA and Standards committees including:
National Responsibilities Within EA
As a Society within Engineers Australia SBSE has responsibility to provide opportunities for its members to meet at least biennially and in that regard has elected to do that at ARBS so that our members can meet with kindred industry groups and encourage the widest possible cooperation, which is important for the growth of our industry which was founded from Air Conditioning to HVAC to Mechanical Services plus facilities management and now to Building Services Engineering whilst maintaining that focus on science and engineering being the key to the success and perhaps the survival of the industry into the future.
Essential fire safety measures are installations in a building that assist in reducing risk to life and property in the event of an emergency. They include equipment and protective devices such as fire hose reels and fire doors. The following is a list of essential fire safety measures:
Generally, essential measures are installed as required by Regulations that accredited building certifiers or Council enforce. There may be some measures, however, where other items of equipment or forms of construction not listed above can be included for the purpose of ensuring the safety of persons in a building in the event of fire.
Essential fire safety measures are installed in the following instances:
(a) Building Work
In certain instances, a Construction Certificate or Complying Development Certificate may be issued with a Fire Safety Schedule. The Schedule must include the current and proposed fire safety measures to be implemented.
Where the use of a building is changed, the safety of persons to be accommodated in the building must be safeguarded. In considering the change of use, the essential fire safety measures to be installed must be identified.
The regulator (Council) may, at any time, assess the state of an existing building and if it is considered necessary, order the owner to carry out upgrading works. These works may include the installation of essential fire safety measures.
you will be required to engage a competent fire safety practitioner [CFSP] to check the design standards to which those measures were installed. After this, a Fire Safety Certificate is to be completed, signed by you or your agent, and forwarded to Council. When an approval is issued by an accredited certifier or Council, the existing and any additional measures required will be included in the Fire Safety Schedule, together with installation design standards.
(b) For new buildings (to be constructed)
If you intend to construct a new building, approval is required. The approval must have a fire safety schedule attached where fire safety measures are required. The fire safety schedule will nominate those essential fire safety measures and the Australian and/or other Standards to which they must be designed by CFSP accredited with design and all such measures must be installed by installers that satisfy the requirements for Competent Fire Safety Practitioners (CFSP*).
Before the Principal Certifying Authority can issue an Occupation Certificate for the building, the owner or agent must issue a Fire Safety Certificate stating that the services have been inspected and performance tested by a competent fire safety practitioner and installed to and satisfy the performance required of the relevant Standards.
Once the Fire Safety Certificate is issued, a copy must be forwarded to Council. For this Fire Safety Certificate, a copy of the certificate and the current fire safety schedule must also be forwarded to the NSW Fire & Rescue, and another copy prominently displayed in the building.
Unless a critical fire safety measure has been identified, on or by the annual anniversary following the Fire Safety Certificate being issued, an Annual Fire Safety Statement must be prepared and forwarded to Council. A critical fire safety measure is a measure that is of a nature or is located in an environment or circumstances that requires certification at periods of less than 12 months. The critical measures are identified in the Fire Safety Schedule and the intervals at which Supplementary Fire Safety Statements are required (are also nominated in the Schedule). The Annual and Supplementary Fire Safety Statements must certify that a competent fire safety practitioner (CFSP assessor accreditation number) has inspected these measures and the building, finding that
The fire safety certificates and annual fire safety statements can only be signed by the owner or his agent and not by any of the “CFSP” person or persons who conducted any of the assessments.
It is an offence to make a false statement, to fail to submit the certificates within the prescribed time, or to fail to maintain essential fire safety measures. You may be liable under common law if you-
The building owner is responsible for the environment of the occupants and their guests (under WH&S) a number of Acts and regulations prescribe these for most buildings, including:
Who can I contact for assistance?
Revised 20th March 2020
 AS4655 is the Australian Standard for the Audit of Fire Safety Systems in Buildings – Our phone number is therefore 1300-274655.
 NDIBS have been providing Building Services & Compliance advice to Building Owners & their Managing Agents since 1998
Any AFSS of SFSS in NSW submitted after 6th April (now deferred till 1st July 2020) must have the performance of each measure (listed on the FSS and reflected in Section 4 as well as paths of travel in Section 5) attested to by an accredited CFSP Assessor who will be identified and sign-off (in section 6).
There seems to be a whole lot of confusion about who and how the Section 4 and Section 5 & 6 of these forms can be filled out.
A CFSP inspect and test accredited individual is not necessarily a CFSP accredited assessor and those who have only CFSP inspect and test may not be listed in Section 4, 5 or 6 of the form. Only accredited CFSP assessors can be listed in these sections.
The FPAA are the administrators of the CFSP Accreditation and are adamant that the CFSP Assessor must not be reliant upon CFSP inspect and test individuals when doing their assessments, but must physically inspect and assess each site and be able to show what evidence they acquired to form the view that the measure performed.
The FPAA are required to audit registered CFSP’s and ensure that they are following the correct assessment criteria (physical assessment done and performance evidence records for all measures attested to). Those who don’t follow the required criteria will be disciplined and/or deregistered.
It will simply not be good enough to have a CFSP Assessor on staff in the office signing off on these sections referencing only the inspect & test dockets from that companies inspect and test technicians.
Note that no CFSP listed in Section 6 can be the submitter referenced in Section 7.
The only form that may be used for AFSS’and SFSS’ is that from: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/-/media/Files/DPE/Other/fire-safety-statement-form-version-3-2019-11-27.docx?la=en
There is a misconception about those involved in all levels of Government and instrumentalities that they are exempt from having to conform to the Building Code Requirements and ongoing performance of essential services in buildings.
While “Crown/ Prescribed Persons” do have some exemptions regarding shortcuts to development approvals (projects of state significance. There are no exemptions under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act’79, Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, Amended Regulation 2014 or Amended Regulation 2017, for Crown/ Prescribed Persons (such as Public Hospitals, Universities, Local Councils, Utilities, etc.). So there are NO exemptions from those requirements associated with annually attesting to the performance of all essential fire safety measures to a performance value not less than that of the performance standard of the installed measure when installed. This takes the form of an Annual Fire Safety Statement.
Australian Standards are referred to as minimum best practice and the minimum best practice for the service and repair of fire protection measures is Australian Standard AS1851-2012, emergency lighting & exit signs AS2293.2-1995 (but hopefully soon we’ll see a 2019 version which is sorely needed), emergency lifts servicing to AS1735.2-2001, and standby power systems to AS/NZS3010-2017.
Therefore the minimum best practice for the assessment of performance of these systems is AS4655-2005 Audit of Fire Safety Systems in Buildings. We suggest that there is a need to conduct these audits at a minimum to Level 2 audit routines which requires physical at site assessment as well as (Level 1 audit, which is) review of documentary evidence associated with service & repair.
For complex buildings having performance solutions and /or complex fire interfaced systems, we suggest Level 3 audits which consist of witness testing for the full function interface test.
It is imperative that the AS4655 assessor/ auditor has reasonable knowledge of the EP&AR2000 Div.7, NCC/BCA Vol.1 Part C, D & E (and variances from 1990 version to date), relevant Australian Standards for installed essential services measures (and the variances versions associated with the time of construction), plus the servicing standards. For older buildings earlier building codes such as Ord.70 and associated Ministerial Specifications would be necessary.
AS4655-2005 identifies that such audits need to be independent of the incumbent service providers.
FIRE ASSESS can be contacted by phone on 1300-AS4655 / 1300-274655 / 02-9594-4477
Once fire protection measures are installed in a building, it would be comforting to think that they were simply waiting in case they were needed, at which point they would activate and protect the building and its occupants from the effects of fire. However, as with any machinery or appliance, upkeep is necessary to ensure they are fit for purpose.
Legislation in most States of Australia, (Building Act & regulations) requires fire protection equipment and systems for the safety of persons to be subject to a suitable programme of maintenance and repair (where they apply – current versions of AS1735.2, AS1851, AS2293.2 and AS3510 are deemed minimum best practice). In addition, any negligence or deficiencies of coverage in this area can affect the building fire insurance policies and could result in the insurance being considered invalidated due to these oversights in the case of a fire (this is especially important when occupiers have introduced additional hazards which may overwhelm the base building systems).
As a lack of maintenance of systems designed to protect building occupants may lead to injuries or even fatalities, the potential for individual as well as corporate litigation is significant.
While most States require an Annual Certification pertaining to the performance of such systems, every company or organisation should have a formal inspection schedule, appropriate to the systems and building type, informal inspections are to be encouraged. The inclusion of elementary fire protection awareness in occupant fire training (re AS3745) could mean that small deficiencies are spotted by occupiers as they go about their duties in the building.
It is important also that a system is put in place to enable any reporting from staff in relation to fire safety should be followed up promptly and dealt with appropriately e.g. sticking fire doors, discharged or missing extinguishers, exit directional signs not illuminated, grease dripping from seam in ductwork, etc.
The organisation should compile checklists to be followed at appropriate intervals. For example, facilities managers should conduct inspections and identify observable issues, security checks should include an “issue found” logbook. These checks would include simple tasks such as checking evacuation routes are clear of obstructions and fire escapes are working and not obstructed either inside or outside the building.
While checklists are important to ensure that no important element is neglected, it is also important that not only those considerations listed are followed, but that any changes to the building or systems involved are noted and followed up on.
While active fire protection measures such as fire alarms or sprinkler systems are commonly highlighted as an area requiring regular attention to function correctly, it is also important that passive fire protection measures are considered and understood by any relevant parties. The potential for harm following a new service penetration (through a compartment wall) which has not been appropriately fire-stopped could mean the spread of fire from one area to the next through that vulnerability.
Accreditation Scheme for Competent Fire Safety Practitioners
A scheme for approval by Secretary of the Department of Finance Services and Innovation NSW Government
The Proposed Scheme
The scope of the proposed scheme is to be expressed in terms of functions, under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation (regulatory functions), to be performed by the competent fire safety practitioners that EA accredits under the scheme. The range of regulatory functions, as proposed by NSW Fair Trading, is reproduced at Annex A. The scheme can also state restrictions. Restrictions can apply to the scheme as a whole or to individuals accredited under it.
The primary objective is to keep the scheme as simple as possible.
NER is to be the vehicle for the operation of the scheme. However, it is proposed that the scheme be available only to members of Engineers Australia on NER to simplify rules and processes associated with professional conduct, complaints handling and disciplinary requirements.
In Annex A, NSW Fair Trading sets out four groups of regulatory functions to be covered by accreditation schemes. No scheme is expected to apply universally to all functions. Each proponent is expected to define which regulatory functions its scheme applies to and how accreditation is to be managed. The proponent is to outline its evaluation of competence methodology and to specify the names and positions of personnel involved in the management and operation of the scheme.
A new area of practice on NER, Competent Fire Safety Practitioner, could be added and taken to apply to any, or a combination of, the regulatory functions that are available under the EA accreditation scheme, when taken in conjunction with existing NER area(s) of practice.
For example, NER Fire Safety Engineer taken in conjunction with Competent Fire Safety Practitioner (CSFP) would qualify to endorse a fire safety alternative solution report under Clause 130 and 144A of the EP&A Regulation. Assessment for the CFSP area of practice would be automatic, based on a declaration that the member was working in the building industry and familiar with the Building Code of Australia.
However, the scheme could provide for other regulatory functions to be carried out by NER Building Services Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Civil Engineers or Structural Engineers.
For example, an Electrical Engineer may wish to endorse plans and specifications for fire detection and alarm systems as a relevant fire safety system under Clause 136AA and 146B of the EP&A Regulation. To provide such an endorsement, the NER Electrical Engineer would also require to be NER Competent Fire Safety Practitioner. In this case also, assessment for the CFSP area of practice would be automatic, based on a declaration that the member was working in the building industry and familiar with the Building Code of Australia.
A Competent Fire Safety Practitioner may also endorse non-compliance with BCA standards for minor works to existing relevant fire safety systems under Clause 164B or EP&A Regulation. Accreditation to perform this regulatory function must assess competence with the BCA and the Australian Standards it calls up as well as relevant fire safety systems. Members seeking this accreditation are likely to be Professional Engineers, but may also be Engineering Technologists or Engineering Associates within the appropriate specialist sub-discipline or area of practice.
Application to all Occupational Categories
The scheme could quite reasonably be extended to include Engineering Technologists and Engineering Associates who are registered on NER. Many Engineering Associates work in the plumbing design space that includes fire hydrant systems, fire hose reel systems and the like. Engineering Associates and Engineering Technologists may also undertake assessment of the performance capability of existing essential fire safety measures (annual fire safety statement) for Division 5 of Part 9 of the EP&A Regulation.
Scoping the EA accreditation scheme
It is proposed to engage with the Society of Fire Safety Engineering and the Society of Building Services Engineering in order to ascertain which regulatory functions are typically performed by their members. Also, suitable spokespeople from the various College Boards should be consulted about their members’ engagement in such regulatory functions. The objective of this consultation will be to reduce the list of functions to those typically or potentially performed by our members and to identify the competence required for each function under EA’s proposed scheme.
The scheme will become extremely complex if EA chooses to include restrictions to practice. The accreditation decision should be “the applicant is competent” or “not yet competent” to perform the regulatory function in question. Differentiation on the basis of size and complexity of projects, such as in Clause 130 (5) of the EP&A Regulation is considered unwieldly and should be avoided in our scheme.
Accordingly, the major part of scoping the accreditation scheme will involve deciding:
Consultation along the proposed lines is a matter of urgency and should be conducted by e-mail and telephone during the next week or two at most.
Michael Bevan MA FIEAust CPEng NER
Engineers Australia’s Competency Advisor
22 February 2018
The following list of functions has been compiled by the NSW Department of Fair Trading. The functions are required to operate the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulations (EP&A Regulations) 2000 after the Environmental Planning and Assessment (Fire Safety and Building Certification) Regulation 2017 [NSW] commenced 1 Oct 2017. Engineers Australia has been invited to submit an accreditation scheme under Clause 167A of the EP&A Regulation.
Functions that may be covered by the EA accreditation scheme include:
Other – Please list:
Sent to NSW Planning,
As part of our consultancy business conducting independent fire safety assessments based upon AS4655 We’ve just had a couple of AFSS submissions knocked back by City of Sydney Building Compliance under the regulatory changes for submissions from 1 December 2017, because we did not complete the AFSS form exactly as required (as we didn’t have the owners signature on the form as required in Sect.9).
So I’m making this representation as a representation of our membership and for the sake of others similarly afflicted by your form as we have identified that the prescriptive nature of this form is also impacting upon members of various other associations such as the Property Council of Australia, Institute of Strata Title Management, etc.
Firstly – We’re quite ok with sections 1 to 5 (Type of Statement, Building address, building description, owner & owner’s address, schedule of fire safety measures detailing measure, date assessed, nominated assessor, and minimum performance requirement)
Whilst Section 6 (details of each competent fire safety practitioner/assessor) is partially ok in that CFSP’s are identified, we would be knocked back for the lack of signature (even though we can produce separate supporting service records and / or reports signed by these CFSP assessors – can you remove this mandatory requirement for signatures – we suggest that the CFSP simply be initialled on the AFSS in Sect.5 and named in Sect. 6 but that a referenced document and having the name, contact number, email and signature be acceptable – this would allow CFSP assessors checking a portfolio of buildings to use this one document as a point of reference.
We also approve of the competency matrix example published by NSW Planning and suggest that such a competency matrix would be completed by anyone claiming to be a CFSP, and this be provided to the AFSS Issuer with or as the CFSP signed document.
If the submitter of the AFSS are required to obtain the signatures on each AFSS and for each CFSP conducting performance tests, as well as the requirement to have the building owner provide signed authorisation on every AFSS form, this shall blow the AFSS preparation costs way out without any enhancement of a delivered complying and performing building.
We’re so far ok with Section 7 (signed AFSS Declaration by issuer) and ask if, on an AFSS (not supplementary), Section 8 be deleted or simply have n/a rather than including the full text as on the form.
Section 9 (owner’s authorisation) is a real problem as regulators such as City of Sydney will not currently accept any attached authorisation letter, stating that Planning’s Form requires each AFSS to have the owner signed authorisation.
We suggest that such a referenced letter should be deemed acceptable and that such a letter nominate:
We also see Section 11 as a duplication of Section 5. The Regulator (Council) already have a copy of the Fire Safety Schedule of record for the building and usually issue this with their 90-day reminder letters. We simply see no real purpose in requiring as demanded by the AFSS form a separate copy of the FSS as part of the AFSS when Section 5 clearly replicates that same schedule.
Another alternative would be to remove the prescriptive requirements for some of the form content such as is the case with EP&AR2000 cl.181
Note that EPAAR2017 ref to this clause (181) requires the change: A fire safety statement for a building or part of a building must “be made in the form approved by the Secretary and must” contain the following information:
together with the minimum standard of performance specified in the relevant fire safety schedule in relation to each such measure,
So the real trigger for all of this angst is that we may now only use that PRESCRIPTIVE form as approved by the Secretary for submission after 1st December and all other forms of the AFSS conforming to EP&AR2000 cl.181 such as those previously developed and which were previously in a format approved by the Secretary are now deemed as voided.
Please call with any queries.
Ian Childs | NSW Chair – Society, Building Services Engineers |
Member – Engineers Australia Learned Society Advisory Council
Representative – Standards Australia, Technical Committee ME/62 |
The response received by NSW Planning was that they would give consideration to amendments at a future review.
Most NSW Councils acting as the Planning Regulator’s Agent have recognised the difficulties and are allowing copy of a signed register of incumbent CFSP’s accompanying and referenced the statement, as well as a copy of the letter of authority from the schedule one owner – also referenced in the statement and following the format (but not necessarily the actual form) of the new planning form (Sectional layout and Sectional numbering/ content).
We know of one council (Katoomba) who insists that only the “Form” from Planning can be used.
So still a lot of confusion, misdirection and misinterpretation by these regulators.
The intent of the format of the form was to provide consistency and accountability by the CFSP’s – we agree this is a good thing, but that this NEEDS to be simplified.
So what is a Competent Fire Safety Practitioner (CFSP)?
This is the person who has verified, tested, etc. that the performance of that particular fire safety measure as identified on the fire safety schedule, does in fact meet or exceed the performance specified in that fire safety schedule as defined in EP&AR2000 cl.176(3).
A new clause has been added (CL.167a) regarding recognition of what a competent person shall be and this includes:
Once these professional/industry schemes are recognised by Government, these individuals can act as CFSP’s for the specific skills that they have been accredited with.
Note that there has always been a requirement to be competent, however, such competency is now being scrutinised and verified.
In Australia once a building is built, there is little requirement for retrospective upgrading (except when major work mandates upgrade using the 50% refurbishment within a 3-year period rule, whereupon it is required to update to those code requirements or equivalent at that time – though many do whatever is possible to avoid this and most goes unnoticed).
We have observed that many hi-rise building with HVAC installations pre-dating AS1682.1&2-1990 are without appropriate breakaway on the ductwork.
Why is the breakaway requirement so important?
It is my personal belief that whenever there is the opportunity (vacant possession, refurbishment, etc.), that every opportunity is made to update these systems in that accessible part of older buildings to reflect current performance requirements (or deemed equivalent).It should also be recognised that those maintaining and assessing these systems are referencing them back to the performance standards associated with their installation (operational check) and this means that the assessment reporting fails to identify non-conformance to what is current “minimum best practice“.
It has also been observed that inappropriate practices by other trades are not being reported by service technicians/ maintainers and this degrades the performance from that of the original installation (cables and pipes adjacent to duct penetrations of firewalls, etc).
It needs to be known that the assessors are actually obliged to endorse performance based entirely upon the standard of installation and such a process while conforming to the legislative requirements (and covering the assessor from liability), still leave a residual risk until that building is fully upgraded.
The building owner/building controller, remain as the responsible entity for the safety of those in occupation and should give consideration to management of those risks as well as any risks introduced by those occupants.
Building owners require that any new works reflect current requirements but are under no obligation to elevate the base building.
Ok – so it’s only some 5 months latter than expectations. It’s still great to see this standard finally appear.
AS1851 provides a task schedule and scope to those who service and repair essential services measures in buildings (except those which for some idiotic reason weren’t included).
It clearly defines the requirements and expectations required of the building owner (base building data, alternate solution documentation, tactical plans and procedures) as well as the how and when to service.
The essential services measures which were inappropriately excluded were: Emergency Lifts, Emergency Lighting & Exit Signs, and Standby Power Systems. Hopefully the next review can see these included.