Fire Safety Inspections

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Forums Strata law reform Fire Safety Inspections

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    In the latest podcast the issue of ‘who’ was considered certified to do a fire safety inspection when there was no real certification body, and how to establish that the inspection was done by a duly authorised person or company.

    I think I have a clue to that – ask the Council …

    Our chairman has a penchant for covering our building in ugly threatening signs. They almost always state laws or consequences that don’t exist. Done simply for intimidation into compliance, as most people don’t know otherwise.

    Every year we are threatened with $550 fines if we are not available to give access for the annual fire inspection.

    I knew that the SP had no right to fine members, so wondered where this figure came from.

    I asked the council, who were most enlightening – including about the ‘80% inspection is enough’ mentioned in the podcast.

    Here’s how it works – at least for our council.

    A fire safety check is done by a company who is recognised by the council as accredited, or ‘competent fire safety practitioners’. The council ticked inspection is lodged with FRNSW.

    If there are not enough unit inspections done (80% in our case), then the company is asked to complete more. They are given reasonable time frame to do this, then given a second chance after that. When the time frames or chances run out, a fine is issued to our building by the council for non-compliance. It is not one-owner-per-fine as stated in our notices.

    I asked how often this fine happens. The council officer said – Never.

    In his long history at the council, to his knowledge, they hadn’t had a case of non compliance. He went on to explain, it was not in a respectable fire safety company’s interest to fail to gain a certificate for the building. It’s a main part of their often lucrative contract, and goes to their reputation to maintain their ‘certified cred’ with the council, therefore their entire business.

    Thank you Council. Very edifying I thought.

    So at the moment and probably into the future, who should do inspections? Whoever the Council says, basically.

    Ours was able to supply an extensive list to choose from. The list may change slightly now the new accreditation rules are in.


    Amanda Farmer

    Excellent practical advice, thanks KBH.


    Hi Amanda – we had our fire inspection recently and now strata manager has organised another – given 12 hrs notice and no reason for a second one. Committee members useless and just seem to go along with this unnecessary expense. Again like previous writer threats made as to large expense if not available – I can not believe this behaviour. M


    Hi Amanda – Do you know if it is mandatory in NSW to replace hard wired fire alarms after 10 years – even when tested and are working? Certainly overcharge for works done. No problem to replace if not working but would seem a lot of work is created for tradies who over charge strata.


    Amanda Farmer

    Hi mlahna,

    Reg 20 of the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 NSW requires landlords to replace smoke alarms within 10 years of the date of manufacture. This is not limited to battery operated alarms and, on my reading, includes hard wired alarms.

    I have dug around but can’t find the same requirement for dwellings generally (whether tenanted or not) but bearing in mind the above requirement and that a dwelling may be tenanted one year and owner-occupied the next, sticking to the 10 year requirement sounds sensible to me.





    Hi Amanda – thanks for your reply. Yes I could only find it being mandatory for rented properties. I have found that some Strata managers are claiming it is mandatory and choosing expensive options for changing working fire alarms and exit lights. We live in a very dysfunctional strata where the committee members and strata manager work together to do what ever they like.  M


    I’ve found fire companies often charge very high rates for replacing things like smoke detectors. In our small (14 lot) building, we get our regular electrician in to replace out-of-date smoke detectors, our locksmiths to fix door closers etc. This usually costs about half the fire company’s quote. And the job is generally done to a higher standard.

    Another common practice is quoting for full replacement of exit and emergency lights, when all that’s really required is a new battery pack.

    It’s often better to go for a higher-spec smoke detectors, exit lights etc, because they last longer. So always go for the lithium battery models rather than 9V battery or NiMH.

    Hope this is helpful!

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