Why Do Councils Collect Annual Fire Safety Statements from Building Owners?

26 April 2023

Building owners should always make sure that their properties will boast elements that can protect them from fire. Without these elements, any instance of fire may easily damage and destroy their buildings. It can also lead to countless fatalities and costly damages.

To ensure that building owners in Australia will not face the costly and deadly effects of fire, councils require them to submit Annual Fire Safety Statements (AFSS).

An Overview of Annual Fire Safety Statements

An AFSS is a legal requirement in many Australian states and territories, which includes New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. It is a statement that confirms that essential fire safety measures of a building have been assessed, tested, and maintained following the relevant regulations and standards. For building owners, the annual collection of AFSS can serve as a reminder of their ongoing responsibilities for fire safety.

It is often prepared by a qualified fire safety practitioner who is licensed to carry out inspections and testing of fire safety equipment. The statement usually includes a list of essential fire safety measures present and installed in the building. It also contains the results of the inspections and tests conducted during the last 12 months. It is then submitted yearly to the local council, fire brigade, and the owner or manager of a building.

Failure to submit this specific statement by the due date can lead to fines and penalties. It may also deter the building from obtaining insurance and occupancy permits easily.

The Importance of Safety Statement Collection

Councils here in Australia collect AFSS from building owners so they can ensure that buildings will comply with fire safety regulations. They also make sure that the properties will be adequately prepared for fire emergencies.

The collection of the Annual Fire Safety Statements is a requirement under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (EP&A Regulation). This regulation enumerates the requirements for fire safety in buildings. It involves the installation and maintenance of fire safety measures like fire alarms, fire doors, sprinkler systems, and fire extinguishers. Building owners should then make sure these measurements will be present and will always be maintained.

As councils collect the statements from building owners, they can effectively enforce fire safety regulations. They can then monitor and enforce compliance of building owners, allowing them to pinpoint building owners who have engaged a qualified fire safety practitioner for the inspection and testing of their building’s fire safety measures.

A record of the inspections and testing carried out by safety practitioners can then be recorded by the councils as they collect AFSS. Councils can then use the collected statements in carrying out emergency management planning. They can conveniently identify high-risk buildings on their territories and send out additional support or resources in case of a fire emergency.

Fire safety is a critical issue in Australia. Hence, building owners must take responsibility for the safety of their occupants and property. The collection of annual fire safety statements by the councils is a requirement under the EP&A Regulation, providing evidence that a building owner like you has engaged a qualified fire safety practitioner to inspect and test the fire safety measures of your beloved building.