Prescriptive format of AFSS & problems

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 signatureswe 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:

  • detail the Building owner details to include: building or for a portfolio of buildings (such as City of Sydney owned Property Portfolio),
  • Entity (Building Owner) Name, entity representative, entity representative title,
  • declaration that the entity representative is duly authorised to make this authorisation,
  • the ABN of the entity if applicable, the contact mailing address of the entity, the contact phone number of the entity representative, the email address for the entity,
  • the agent subject to the authorisation, the ABN of the agent, the representative of the agent,
  • the expiry date for the agency agreement whence the authorisation becomes void unless replaced by a new authorisation letter, the signature of the entity representative and date of the authorisation.

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:

  1. the name and address of the owner of the building or part,
  2. a description of the building or part (including its address)
  3. a list identifying:
    1. each essential fire safety measure in the building or part(for an annual statement),
    2. each critical fire safety measure in the building or part (for a supplementary statement),

together with the minimum standard of performance specified in the relevant fire safety schedule in relation to each such measure,

  1. the date or dates on which the essential fire safety measures were assessed,
  2. The date on which the building or part was inspected,
  3. The type of statement issued (Annual/Supplementary),
  4. A statement to the effect referred to in cl.175 for an Annual or cl.178 for a Supplementary
  5. The date of issue of the statement.

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:

  • Those registered with the Building Professionals Board, and
  • a person who has undergone particular training or assessment carried out by a specified professional or industry organisation.

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.

About ndibs

Officially a senior citizen. Husband, Father & Grandfather.
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