If you’re a property owner or building manager you have many responsibilities including making sure your building is safe for its occupants and users. Every building should have adequate life safety equipment in place that is ready to perform if and when needed – so maintaining this equipment is essential.
If a fire occurs, having properly maintained fire protection equipment and systems on site can be the difference between a minor fire and a devastating blaze. The worst possible time to find out your fire protection equipment or systems are faulty, or not working as intended, would be at the time of a fire incident.
There are strict requirements for the servicing of fire suppression equipment to ensure it is kept in proper working order. Building managers and owners must ensure this equipment is maintained to applicable regulations and Standards; keep maintenance records and complete necessary compliance reports.
In NSW for example, the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulations (2000) stipulates that all essential fire safety measures must be maintained. The regulation also demands that each year an annual fire safety statement (AFSS) must be prepared by a building’s owner or their agent and submitted to the respective governing authority. This certifies that a building’s fire safety measures have been assessed by a qualified person and were found capable of performing as intended to their original design standard.
In New Zealand, the Building Act 2004 states that all buildings containing life safety features such as automatic sprinkler systems, emergency warning systems as well as lifts, escalators or air conditioning systems, are required to complete a building warrant of fitness (BWOF). The BWOF is an important part of a building’s safety measures and verifies that all specified systems are in proper working order. This assures those using the building that the systems are performing, and will continue to perform as required.
Australian Standard AS1851-2005 – Maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment – recommends that fire protection systems are regularly inspected to help keep them in working order so that they can perform when required.
Across Australia and New Zealand our technicians are finding a common theme. Although most building managers understand their obligation to install fire protection equipment and systems on their premises, service and maintenance requirements are often overlooked or not understood.
We understand that regulatory fire audits, strict compliance codes, record-keeping and reports can seem overwhelming. However, it really is a vital part of building management and there are many professionals and fire protection specialists available to help.
It’s important to note that once a fire protection specialist has been engaged to regularly inspect and maintain the fire protection equipment, the building owner or manager should take note of who their technician is and check that they are visiting the premises as required. They should also be aware that they have the right to observe their service technician when on-site to better understand exactly what they are doing.
Having regularly serviced fire equipment and systems in place to better ensure that they will work at the time when they are most needed will give you and your building’s users greater peace of mind.