‘Essential Fire Safety Measures’ refers to the safety features of a building related to protecting occupants in the event of a fire. Safety features include fire alarms, exit lighting and directions, fire extinguishers and hydrants, emergency lighting and power supplies. The EFSM applies to all commercial buildings and residential complexes. Moreover, an Annual Fire Safety Statement is a legal requirement. Failure to do so can result in insurance policies being void. Plus, the local council can apply heavy fines. So, who’s responsible?
Who is Responsible for Essential Fire Safety Measures?
If you own or manage any commercial properties or residential complexes, it’s your responsibility to maintain Essential Fire Safety Measures. In the past, there has been some confusion over who should pay for the Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS). As a result, some landlords included the fee within the tenant’s rental agreement. However, this process was contested in 2015. Now, because of an amendment to the Retail Leases Amendment Act 2020, the fees can legally be passed on to the tenants.
Make no mistake though, the legal responsibility to maintain the EFSMs stays firmly with the landlords. Notably, that’s why it’s recommended to employ only fully qualified Fire Safety inspection firms.
EFSM – The Law
Essentially, building owners are required to adhere to two things: compliance and documentation (AFSS).
- ‘Compliance (EFSM): Building owners are responsible for maintaining ESMs and ensuring that fire exit routes are clear and accessible. The specific requirements vary depending on the type of building and when it was built. Requirements for which safety measures must be installed, and the standards for maintaining them, are governed by the Building Regulations (2018), the Building Code of Australia, and the Australian Standards.
- Documentation (AFSS): Building owners are legally required to complete an Annual Fire Safety Statement (or authorise an appropriate contractor to prepare one). All fire equipment in the building must be serviced and compliant upon the preparation of the AFSS each year.’