An ongoing process is applied by Council to ensure that an acceptable level of fire safety is provided in older buildings.
This normally happens when the level of fire safety within the building is brought to Council's attention through the approval of building works a change of building use or when a complaint is received. The building will initially be inspected by Council's staff.
Where it is found that upgrade is required council will usually serve a Fire Safety Notice upon the owner of the building. The notice will require that an assessment report of the building is produced by an independent and appropriately qualified building consultant or a fire safety engineer and be provided to council within a nominated time.
The assessment report is required to compare the level of fire safety in the building against the current requirements of the Building Code of Australia. Where deficiencies in fire safety are found the report must provide recommendations indicating the method of achieving an acceptable level of fire protection within the building.
Building design and the level of risk posed to occupants will be different in each case and accordingly the upgrade requirements, fire safety priorities and associated upgrade expenses will vary.
In many cases it is not practical to achieve strict compliance with current requirements of the Building Code of Australia. Assessment using the Performance Clauses of the Building Code of Australia may provide a means of determining that an acceptable level of fire safety can be provided. For this reason it is recommended that upgrade assessments are conducted by a qualified fire safety engineer.
Once the assessment report is provided to council the recommendations of the report are considered and often referred to the NSW Fire Brigades for comment. Where the recommendations of the report are found to be acceptable the council will then serve a second Fire Safety Notice upon the building owner.
The second Fire Safety Notice will require that the recommendations of the assessment report be implemented within a nominated time frame. Priority is given to installing those items that provide the greatest level of fire protection within the building.