Competent Fire Safety Practitioner NSW

Engineers Australia
Accreditation Scheme for Competent Fire Safety Practitioners

Engineers Australia’s Society of Building Services Engineers welcomes this scheme by Engineers Australia and looks forward to providing appropriate support.
Ian Childs NSW Chair Soc.Building Services Engineers.

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.

Proposed accreditation

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:

  • Which NER Areas of Practice should be required to endorse plans and specifications for relevant fire safety systems in relation to functions under section 2) in Annex A; and
  • Which NER Areas of Practice should be required to undertake assessment of the performance capability of existing essential fire safety measures (annual fire safety statement) under section 4) of Annex A; and
  • The extent to which previous knowledge and application of the BCA requires to be assessed for accreditation purposes; and
  • The extent to which the accreditation scheme can apply to Engineering Associates and Engineering Technologists registered appropriately on NER.

Recommendation

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.

 

Prepared by
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:

  1. Endorse a fire safety alternative solution report –
    (clause 130 and 144A of EP&A Regulation)
  2. Endorse plans and specifications for relevant fire safety systems –
    (clause 136AA and 146B of EP&A Regulation)

    1. A hydraulic fire safety system (as defined in clause 165 of EP&A Regulation):
      1. Fire hydrant system
      2. Fire hose reel system
  • Sprinkler system (including a wall wetting sprinkler or drencher system)
  1. Any type of automatic fire suppression system of a hydraulic nature that is installed in accordance with a requirement of, or under, the Act or any other Act or law
    (EA must specify which systems are covered)
  1. A fire detection and alarm system
    (EA must specify which systems are covered)
  2. A mechanical ducted smoke control system
    (EA must specify which systems are covered)
  1. Endorse non-compliance with Building Code of Australia standards for minor works to existing relevant fire safety systems –
    (clause 164B of EP&A Regulation)
  2. Undertake assessment of the performance capability of existing essential fire safety measures (annual fire safety statement)
    (Division 5 of Part 9 of EP&A Regulation)

    1. Access panels, doors and hoppers to fire-resisting shafts
    2. Automatic fail-safe devices
    3. Automatic fire detection and alarm systems
    4. Automatic fire suppression systems
    5. Emergency lifts
    6. Emergency lighting
    7. Emergency warning and intercommunication systems
    8. Exit signs
    9. Fire control centres and rooms
    10. Fire dampers
    11. Fire doors
    12. Fire hose reel systems
    13. Fire hydrant systems
    14. Fire seals protecting openings in fire-resisting components of the building
    15. Fire shutters
    16. Fire windows
    17. Lightweight construction
    18. Mechanical air handling systems
    19. Perimeter vehicle access for emergency vehicles
    20. Portable fire extinguishers
    21. Safety curtains in proscenium openings
    22. Smoke alarms and heat alarms
    23. Smoke and heat vents
    24. Smoke dampers
    25. Smoke detectors and heat detectors
    26. Smoke doors
    27. Solid core doors
    28. Standby power systems
    29. Wall-wetting sprinkler and drencher systems
    30. Warning and operational signs

Other – Please list:

 

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About ndibs

Officially a senior citizen. Husband, Father & Grandfather.
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