Fire safety and testing – a guide to New Zealand’s Building Warrant of Fitness (BWoF)

P7060556

By Dave Hipkins, National Technical and Product Manager, Wormald New Zealand

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).  A BWoF is an important part of a building’s safety measures and verifies that all specified systems are in proper working order.

Detailed records outlining fire systems and equipment testing and inspections must be kept up to date as the local council may carry out random audits and will expect to see a dedicated BWoF folder detailing that these have been completed. The audits are conducted to ensure ongoing compliance.  A copy of the compliance schedule and all documentation relating to the testing should be stored in the BWoF folder.

What is a BWoF?
The BWoF (Building Warrant of Fitness) is a document officially known as a Form 12, that is issued by the building owner or owner’s representative and outlines key information on the property, legal description, owner details, and a schedule of all the specified systems that are detailed on the compliance schedule. It is usually displayed in a public part of a building, such as a reception area.  Before a BWoF can be issued a ‘Form 12a’ for each specified system must be received from the company or an IQP who tests and inspects the relevant compliance schedule features.  Once the multiple Form 12a documents are completed for all specified systems, they are issued with a copy of the BWoF to the council.

It is important that the process to collate the Form 12a documents from all suppliers is managed efficiently in order to meet the due date of the BWoF.  The BWoF is valid for one year from the issue date and should be issued on the anniversary date of the compliance schedule.  It is recommended arranging this prior to the anniversary date to avoid any potential complications.  It is therefore vital that any defects or remedial items that potentially could prevent the specified systems from being signed off as compliant (by IQP) are addressed in a timely manner, well in advance of the anniversary date. The IQP should not sign a Form 12a when it is known that a defect exists which could be detrimental to the operation of the specified system.

Who is responsible for the BWoF?
Under the Building Act 2004, the building owner is responsible for producing a BWoF however the BWoF can only be issued if all the requirements relating to testing, inspection and maintenance are complete. Often the building owner entrusts this responsibility to the tenant who may be responsible under their lease for all outgoings.

If you are the tenant and are unsure, Wormald recommends contacting the building owner who can advise on whether you need to set up the testing services with a qualified supplier.  Failure to produce a BWoF can lead to a notice being issued by the council service to rectify outstanding issues; alternatively you may receive a fine.  Failure to comply with the regulations could also have wider implications; especially if there is a fire and the building is non-compliant, which could affect the building insurance coverage.

For more information on fire safety regulations, building compliance and fire protection solutions for the accommodation industry contact Wormald on 0800 4967 6253, or visit our website www.wormald.co.nz.

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