NSW apartment fire safety reform
The NSW Government has announced major reforms to improve the design, installation, certification and maintenance of critical apartment fire safety systems. Image – Canva
  • NSW Government announces major apartment fire safety reforms set to be implemented in 2022
  • Reforms devised by specialist working group over nine months of consultation
  • Fire Protection Association welcomed ongoing commitment to increasing fire safety regulations

The NSW Government has announced major reforms to apartment fire safety regulations in an effort to further protect residents.

The new regulations will improve the design, installation, certification and maintenance of fire safety systems in class 2 residential buildings.

Fire safety system defects rife

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said the reforms were developed over nine months of consultation between a specialist working group.

The group consisted of representatives from 16 organisations including fire practitioners, certifiers, strata and building managers, engineers, educators, councils and regulators.

“Fire safety is absolutely critical for those living in apartments and the NSW Government is committed to keeping residents safe,” Mr Anderson said.

Mr Anderson acknowledged the vital nature of improved apartment fire safety, recognising fire system flaws to be rife.

“While we have already made significant reforms to lift standards in the industry, our research shows defects in fire safety systems are still the second most common in apartments.”

Kevin Anderson, Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation

“That’s why we commissioned this important work and will be implementing all of its recommendations,” Mr Anderson said.

Reforms to be implemented in 2022

The specialist working group comprehensively reviewed the regulatory framework, industry practice and role of regulatory authorities including councils, Fire and Rescue NSW and NSW Fair Trading.

The group then devised and proposed multiple major reforms that will be implemented in 2022 including:

  • Establishing a new template building manual that provides the owners’ corporation and fire practitioners with key information on what is installed, how it should perform and essential maintenance requirements.
  • Tightening the regulation of fire safety work, starting with establishing a new category of certifiers to verify the performance of installed systems.
  • Mandating improved quality and standards for fire safety documentation which is relied on for certification and inspection processes.
  • Enhancing the way that the main regulatory authorities work together, with strategies to deliver more consistent and effective approaches to compliance across NSW.

Initiative receives praise from FPA

The NSW Government has received high praise from the Fire Protection Association Australia Acting CEO, Leigh Gesthuizen.

Mr Gesthuizen embraced the Government’s ongoing support in working to raise fire safety standards.

“This work is a significant step forward towards lifting industry standards and delivering a safer community, and the Association acknowledges the valuable contribution made to these reforms by its outgoing President, Bill Lea.” 

Leigh Gesthuizen, Fire Protection Association

The fire safety reform is only a piece in the puzzle of the NSW Government’s Construct NSW strategy, with a goal to build a more trustworthy residential building and construction industry by 2023.

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