The installation, testing and maintenance of fire safety systems in commercial and multi-residential buildings will be regulated to ensure that these are installed and certified by registered practitioners if principles which are proposed to form the basis of model guidance is adopted in all states and territories.

The Australian Building Codes Board has released a discussion paper seeking feedback on what should be included in national model guidance for regulation in respect of the installation of fire safety systems in buildings which are classified as Class 2-9 buildings (commercial, multi-residential and public buildings).

It proposes that the model guidance reflect five principles.

These are that:

  • Installation and testing, certification and maintenance of nominated fire safety systems should be regulated.
  • Regulation should require fire safety systems to be installed by registered practitioners.
  • Regulation should require installation of fire safety systems to be certified by independent, registered practitioners.
  • Regulation should require that the statutory building surveyor conduct a visual inspection of safety systems prior to issuing an occupancy certificate.
  • Routine maintenance of essential fire safety systems should be regulated, should be undertaken by registered practitioners and should be reported to the building regulator annually.

The paper is the latest as part of a range of consultations which the ABCB has undertaken to develop national model guidance for regulation in respect of various recommendations for reform which were contained in the Building Confidence Report prepared for the Building Ministers Meeting (then known as the Building Minister’s Forum) in 2018.

It responds to Recommendation 19 in that report, which suggests that each jurisdiction should require registered fire safety practitioners to design, install and certify the fire safety systems necessary in Commercial buildings.

That recommendation responded to important concerns about current regulation of fire safety systems in Australia.

These include:

  • Inconsistency in the process of regulation for fire systems design, installation and certification
  • A lack of a requirement for installers of fire safety systems to be registered across most jurisdictions; and
  • An overall lack of adequate control over the design, installation and certification of fire safety systems in commercial buildings.

To overcome these, the proposed model guidance outlines five principles which it says should guide states and territories in terms of regulatory reform.

First, it says installation, certification and maintenance of fire safety systems should be regulated.

This would apply to a range of systems as set out in a table in the document.