Fire safety at home
Every dwelling in NSW (new and existing) must have a smoke detection and alarm system installed.
These requirements extend to caravans, campervans and movable dwellings where people sleep.
Smoke detector alarms can alert you and your family of a fire, giving you time to escape the building.
You do not smell smoke when you're asleep so a properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is important.
Other types and classes of buildings (other than residential) which may have smoke alarms and other fire safety measures have annual certification and maintenance requirements.
Under reforms introduced by the NSW Government in 2020, these checks must be done by accredited fire safety practitioners (with limited exceptions).
Where to place smoke alarms
The general principal of smoke alarms is that they should be positioned to detect smoke before it reaches sleeping occupants.
The sound emitted by the alarm is designed to wake occupants, giving time to evacuate.
The number of alarms required depends on the building size and layout. Thought should be given to the positioning of alarms to avoid the likelihood of nuisance alarms, so try to avoid locating them near kitchens or bathrooms as smoke alarms are extremely sensitive to moisture such as steam or vapours from kitchen activities.
Generally smoke alarms must be located on or near the ceiling and in dwellings:
- In any storey containing bedrooms. Between each part of the dwelling containing the bedroom and the remainder of the dwelling. Where bedrooms are served by a hallway, in that hallway
- In any other storey not containing bedrooms
In regard to smoke detector locations in other types of buildings, it is recommended that building owners first contact Councils Building and Environmental Health Unit or other qualified professionals prior to installation.
Further information on the requirements for smoke alarms and how to comply is available from the NSW Department of Planning, NSW Fire Brigades, Council's Building and Environmental Health Unit 02 6670 2400 or the Smoke Alarms Helpline on 1300 858 812.
Home fire safety
See below for more information
What is a fire safety measure?
Fire safety measures are defined as “any measure (including any item of equipment, form of construction or fire safety strategy) that is, or is proposed to be, implemented in a building to ensure the safety of person using the building in the event of fire”. Generally in existing buildings these are listed on a fire safety schedule which was issued for the building when it was constructed or when alterations and additions were made. Some examples are emergency lighting, exit signs, fire doors, fire hose reels, fire hydrants and portable fire extinguishers.
Essential fire safety measures to be maintained
The owner of a building to which an essential fire safety measure is applicable must not fail to maintain each essential fire safety measure in the building premises:
- in the case of an essential fire safety measure applicable by virtue of a fire safety schedule to a standard no less than that specified in the schedule; or
- in the case of an essential fire safety measure applicable otherwise than by virtue of a fire safety schedule, to a standard no less than that to which the measure was originally designed and implemented.
Essential fire safety measures must be certified annually and Council will notify building owners on an annual basis that annual fire safety statements are due for submission.
What is an Annual Fire Safety Statement?
An Annual fire safety statement is a statement issued by or on behalf of the owner of a building to the effect that:
- each essential fire safety measure specified in the statement has been assessed by a properly qualified person and was found, when it was assessed, to be capable of performing:
- in the case of an essential fire safety measure applicable by virtue of a fire safety schedule, to a standard no less than that specified in the schedule
- in the case of an essential fire safety measure applicable otherwise than by virtue of a fire safety schedule, to a standard no less than that to which the measure was originally designed and implemented, and
- the building has been inspected by a properly qualified person and was found, when it was inspected, to be in a condition that did not disclose any grounds for a prosecution under Division 7 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
Fire safety practitioners now need to be accredited with FPA Australia.
Further information about who can undertake the functions of an accredited practitioner (fire safety) and the approved schemes can be found on the Fire safety practitioner page of the NSW Fair Trading website.
Requirements for Annual Fire Safety Statements
Under the provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act these statements must be submitted annually to both Council and the NSW Fire Brigades. Council has a process in place to remind building owners of their obligation to submit this statement.
Essential fire safety measures are listed on the fire safety schedule for the building. The assessment and inspection of an essential fire safety measure or building must be undertaken by a properly qualified person and have been carried out within the period of three months prior to the date on which the annual fire safety statement is issued. The choice of person to carry out an assessment or inspection is up to the owner of the building.
The person who carries out an assessment must inspect and verify the performance of each fire safety measure being assessed.
It should be noted that it is an offence not to provide an annual fire safety statement to Council and penalties apply.
Accredited Practitioners (fire safety)
In July 2020 the NSW Government introduced reforms to fire safety to improve the quality of checks made throughout the design, approval, construction and maintenance phases of a building.
Competent Fire Safety Practitioners are now known as Accredited Practitioners (fire safety).
Accredited Practitioners carry out specialist fire safety assessments required by the NSW Government.
Only Accredited Practitioners can check and certify fire safety measures listed on the Fire Safety Schedule for a building where that function is covered by the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme.
Practitioners need to be accredited with the Fire Protection Association Australia (with some exceptions).
To find your nearest accredited fire safety practitioner visit FPA Australia and search by suburb or postcode.
A guide is available to help building owners select an accredited practitioner at planning.nsw.gov.au.
For information about who can carry out the functions of an accredited fire safety practitioner (and the approved schemes) visit NSW Fair Trading.
What is a Final Fire Safety Certificate?
A final Fire safety certificate is a certificate issued by or on behalf of the owner of a building to the effect that each essential fire safety measure specified in the current fire safety schedule for the building to which the certificate relates:
- has been assessed by a properly qualified person, and
- was found, when it was assessed, to be capable of performing to at least the standard required by the current fire safety schedule for the building for which the certificate was issued.
Form of fire safety certificates
A fire safety certificate for a building or part of a building must contain the following information:
- The name and address of the owner of the building or part
- A description of the building or part, including its address
- A list identifying each essential fire safety measure in the building or part, together with the minimum standard of performance specified in the relevant fire safety schedule in relation to each such measure
- The date or dates on which the essential fire safety measures were assessed
- The type of certificate being issued (that is, final or interim)
- A statement to the effect referred to in clause 170 (for a final certificate) or clause 173 (for an interim certificate)
- The date on which the certificate is issued.
A fire safety certificate for a building or part of a building must be accompanied by a fire safety schedule for the building or part.
The assessment of essential fire safety measures must have been carried out within the period of three months prior to the date on which a final fire safety certificate is issued.
A person who carries out an assessment:
- must be a properly qualified person to carry out such assessment
- must inspect and verify the performance of each fire safety measure being assessed; and
- must test the operation of each new item of equipment installed in the building premises that is included in the current fire safety schedule for the building.
A final fire safety certificate, issued in relation to work that has been authorised or required by a development consent, construction certificate or fire safety order, need not deal with any essential fire safety measure that is the subject of some other final fire safety certificate or fire safety statement issued within the previous six months, unless the person who issues the development consent, construction certificate or fire safety order determines otherwise.
Offences and Penalties
Failure to provide an annual fire safety statement to Council - Maximum penalty $2000.00
Failure to display a fire safety schedule - Penalty $100.00
For more information in relation to fire safety please do not hesitate to contact our Building and Environmental Health Unit on
Phone: 02 6670 2400
See NSW Fire and Rescue home fire safety