Important update for fire safety practitioners in NSW
On July 1, 2020 the NSW Building and Development Certifiers Regulation 2020 came into effect and has the potential to impact many of AIRAH’s members who have been involved with the design and certification of smoke control systems. It is anticipated that many will no longer hold the qualifications necessary to issue certification.
The new regulation outlines the requirements for individuals and companies that can certify / endorse the compliance of plans and specifications for “mechanical ducted smoke control systems” in class 2 – 9 buildings. While the definition of a “mechanical ducted smoke control systems” is not provided in the Regulation or the Act, it can reasonably be presumed that this includes systems covered by AS1668.1 – 2015. These are likely to be as follows:
AS1668.1 – SECTION 5
AS1668.1 – SECTION 7
Minor Exhaust system (Clause 5.3.1) incorporating fire dampers. (Further discussion for this system type is suggested) (BCA E2.2(b) – unduly contributes to the spread of smoke)
- Major Exhaust system (Clause 5.3.2) Incorporates shutdown in accordance with SECTION 7 and smoke dampers etc. (BCA E2.2(b) – unduly contributes to the spread of smoke)
- Major Supply system (Clause 5.4.2) Incorporates shutdown in accordance with SECTION 7 and smoke dampers etc. (BCA E2.2(b) – unduly contributes to the spread of smoke)
- Carpark ventilation systems only where used to provide relief air to stair pressurisation systems in accordance with clause 5.5.6. and 10.4.3 (not in the general case)
AS1668.1 – SECTION 8
Shutdown systems in Class 9 Buildings where the air handling units are ducted.
AS1668.1 – SECTION 9
Zone pressurisation systems. (As required by BCA Table E2.2a)
AS1668.1 – SECTION 10
Automatic smoke exhaust systems in accordance with BCA Specification E2.2b (the current DTS requirement from NSW Table E2.2b etc.), or
- Hot layer smoke control systems (although technically this would be a performance solution)
Stair pressurisation. (As required by BCA Table E2.2a)
The following systems would not reasonably be considered to be “mechanical ducted smoke control systems”; however, it should be noted that certain aspects of these systems may be necessary for the proper performance of the systems listed above.
AS1668.1 – SECTION 5
AS1668.1 – SECTION 6
Minor exhaust system (Clause 5.3.1) incorporating subducts (these systems are exempt from the requirements of AS1668.1 - SECTION 4).
- Minor supply system (Clause 5.4.1) (these systems are exempt from the requirements of SECTION 4).
- Carpark ventilation systems (unless used to provide relief air to stair pressurisation systems in accordance with clause 5.5.6 and 10.4.3.) – these are confirmed not to be smoke control systems within the Standard.
AS1668.1 – SECTION 7
Kitchen exhaust hood systems. (These systems are not covered by BCA Part E2 and therefore not “required to incorporate smoke control provisions” – AS1668.1 Clause 4.1)
AS1668.1 – SECTION 11
Shutdown systems in other than Class 9 Buildings or in Class 9 Buildings where the air handling units are non-ducted.
AS1668.1 – SECTION 12
Air purge systems (although these would likely be a performance solution anyway)
Lift shaft pressurisation systems (although these would likely be a performance solution anyway)
Typical simpler air handling systems where the BCA has not required any form of “smoke hazard management” (i.e., in simpler developments, package units, split systems etc.) Certification of these systems could still be provided under BCA Clause A5.2 by an “appropriately qualified person” as defined in the BCA as being “a person recognised by the appropriate authority as having qualifications and/or experience in the relevant discipline in question”, where the “appropriate authority” is usually the principal certifier.
In order for an individual to provide certification of a “mechanical ducted smoke control system” under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act it would be necessary for them to be either (depending on the case) a Registered Certifier “Engineer – mechanical”
or an Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety)
A Registered Certifier “Engineer – mechanical”
(previously referred to as a C9 Certifier) can provide a compliance certificate for plans and specifications (and in some cases prepare performance solutions) in respect to “mechanical ducted smoke control systems” as follows:
Complying Development Certificates (EP&A Act 2000 clause 136AA)
- Construction Certificates (EP&A Act 2000 clause 146B)
In order to qualify as a Registered Certifier “Engineer – mechanical” there are two pathways listed; however, both effectively require the applicant to hold a degree in mechanical engineering and do not recognise other relevant qualifications.
An Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety) can endorse plans and specifications (and in some cases prepare performance solutions) with respect to “mechanical ducted smoke control systems” as follows:
Complying Development Certificates (EP&A Act 2000 clauses 130 and 136AA)
- Construction Certificates (EP&A Act 2000 clauses 144A and 146B)
- Non-compliances with BCA requirements. (EP&A Act 2000 clause 164B)
Also, an Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety) can assess essential fire safety measures (Annual Fire Safety Statement – AFFS) that are appropriate to their endorsements (which currently excludes “mechanical ducted smoke control systems”).
There is currently no accreditation program for Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety) with respect to the design of relevant fire safety systems being “mechanical ducted smoke control systems”. The qualifications and experience required of these individuals is not listed within the new Regulation (as it is for all other classes of accreditation).
The NSW Government Gazette has acknowledged that the Commissioner for Fair Trading, Department of Customer Service, is satisfied that (with respect to mechanical ducted smoke control systems) there is no person available who holds an accreditation to prepare performance solution reports in accordance with clauses 130 and 144A, the endorsement of plans and specifications in accordance with clauses 136AA, and to endorse non-compliances with the BCA under clause 164B.
In the absence of anyone accredited to perform the functions of an Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety), the Commissioner for Fair Trading (Under clause 65(3)(b)(ii) of the Building and Development Certifiers Regulation 2020) has allowed certain registered certifiers to appoint an “appropriate person” to undertake the role that would otherwise have been carried out by an Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety). The registered certifier must certify in writing that in their reasonable opinion the “appropriate person” is competent to undertake such work. There is no right of appeal if the registered certifier does not consider a person’s experience or qualification proves them to be competent. Also, there is no guidance for registered certifiers as to what qualifications or experience constitutes an “appropriate person”.
The Fire Protection Association of Australia (FPAA) operates an approved accreditation scheme – the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS) – for Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety), but this accreditation scheme does not cover “mechanical ducted smoke control systems”.
The certification of other BCA deemed to satisfy mechanical systems (i.e., anything that is NOT a “mechanical ducted smoke control system”) is still permitted under BCA Clause A5.2.
If this new regulation impacts you, you should consider expressing your concerns to the following individuals:
Premier Berejiklian – https://www.nsw.gov.au/premier-of-nsw/contact-premier
Minister Robert Stokes, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces – https://www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/ministers/minister-for-planning-and-public-spaces
Minister Victor Dominello, Minister for Customer Service – https://www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/ministers/minister-for-customer-service
Minister Kevin Anderson, Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation – https://www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/ministers/minister-for-better-regulation-and-innovation
Minister Damien Tudehope, Minister for Finance and Small Business – https://www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/ministers/minister-for-finance-and-small-business
Registry and Accreditation, Funds and Licensing, NSW Fair Trading | Better Regulation Division | Department of Customer Service – 02 8522 7800 or [email protected]
You may wish to include the following text in your email correspondence:
The recently introduced Building and Development Certifiers Regulation 2020 has had a negative impact on me as I may no longer be able to continue in my current role within the building services industry.
The Regulation does not appear to differentiate between the role of applying first principals of engineering in order to develop performance solutions as permitted by the National Construction Code, and the simpler role of interpreting, applying and endorsing designs for compliance with relevant Deemed-To-Satisfy (DTS) Australian Standards.
The recent Australian Building Codes Board document “National Registration Framework for Building Practitioners – Discussion Paper 2020” has included an appropriate approach that permits only Professional Engineers to undertake performance solutions and allows less qualified individuals to endorse design works that conform with prescriptive standards (such as Australian Standards). It is not necessary for an individual to have a degree in mechanical engineering in order to interpret, apply and endorse designs in accordance with prescriptive Australian Standards.
I would appreciate you looking into this matter with a view to amending the regulation in line with the principals set out in the “National Registration Framework for Building Practitioners – Discussion Paper 2020".