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Fire safety

All you need to know about Fire Compliance, Qld

Are you aware if your Scheme is compliant with Queensland’s fire safety rules?  We all need peace of mind that our lives and property are safe from the risk of fire.

We’ve outlined here the regulations and your Body Corporate’s obligations.

Under the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 all buildings have annual fire compliance obligations. All buildings classified as class 1B to 9 must comply every year (only stand-alone houses and townhouses are exempt).

Do you have fire obligations?

If your building is anything but a standalone house or townhouse (with no other lot, car park or other class of building part above or below each dwelling, except the dwelling’s own garage), then you have fire safety obligations.

For strata this means almost all BFPs (Building Format/Building Unit Plans) will need to comply. Most SFPs (Standard Format/Group Titles Plans) will have no requirements; the only exception is for common property buildings that are used by tenants and owners.

The Building Code of Australia defines Classes of buildings; all Class 1b to 9 buildings must comply.

What are the objectives of the legislation?

  1. To ensure persons can evacuate the building safely and quickly in the event of an emergency.
  2. To ensure prescribed Fire Safety Installations for the building are maintained.

What do we need to do to be compliant?

All Bodies Corporate must ensure the following requirements are met ANNUALLY:

  • Maintain all prescribed Fire Safety Installations (FSI)
  • Complete an occupier’s statement annually
  • Check defined evacuation route(s) are clear and safe and document it
  • Review the fire and safety evacuation plan annually
  • Appoint and re-train your Responsible Persons annually and keep records of this
  • Have an evacuation practice at least annually

All the above must be completed and records kept as evidence of compliance.

What are the penalties if you do not comply?

Penalties range from $8,250 for every single offence of non compliance, and up to $165,000 and three years jail for an offence that leads to a fire causing multiple deaths.

What are your obligations?

Maintain prescribed Fire Safety installations

The Body Corporate for a building must maintain the prescribed Fire Safety installations for that building. Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 – ‘s104D Occupier of a building to maintain prescribed Fire Safety Installations

  • The occupier of a building must maintain at all times every prescribed Fire Safety installation to a standard of safety and reliability in the event of a fire.’

The required maintenance regimes for Fire Safety installations are covered in the Queensland Development Code and AS 1851-2012 (Maintenance of Fire Protection Systems and Equipment).

What are the prescribed Fire Safety installations in your building?

Prescribed Fire Installations include:-

  • Fire extinguishers, hydrants and fire hoses;
  • Exit and other signs;
  • Fire sprinkler systems;
  • Smoke alarms and fire alarms;
  • Automatic fire pressurisation systems (often used in high rise fire escapes);
  • Fire control rooms and panels;
  • Automatic smoke exhaust and ventilation systems;
  • Occupant warning system (public address and alarm system)

All of these elements make up the Fire Safety installations in your building and all of them must be checked for integrity and maintained to a relevant Code or Standard.

  1. Keep defined evacuation route clear and safe
    There are a number of requirements in the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008, including:
    • Keep evacuation routes free from obstructions
    • Ensure locks and handles on any doors on the evacuation route are compliant
    • Keep evacuation routes isolated from fire

    The evacuation routes are defined in the Fire and Evacuation Plan and diagrams. These clearly defined paths of escape must remain compliant at all times. They must be reviewed and inspected at least annually.

  2. Complete a Fire and Evacuation Plan (including evacuation diagrams) and review it annually
    In a fire or emergency, you will only have one to two minutes from when the alarm is sounded to when your life is seriously endangered by smoke or fire. Even small concentrations of carbon monoxide (which builds up rapidly around fires) can render you unconscious and may lead to death in under three minutes. As such, it is very important that your building has a Fire and Evacuation Plan to help ensure the safe, orderly and rapid evacuation of people in an emergency.A Fire and Evacuation Plan contains a lot more than just the evacuation diagrams displayed on walls in buildings. It also contains Evacuation Coordination Procedures, which are procedures for:
    • Alerting and communicating with people in the building;
    • Alerting the fire service;
    • Arranging for the evacuation of people with special needs, members of the public and other persons;
    • Checking whether all people have been evacuated;
    • Informing the Responsible Person(s) of how many people have been evacuated, who have been evacuated and who are not accounted for;
    • Meeting fire officers who attend the building
    •  Instructions for evacuating the building in accordance with the Evacuation Coordination Procedures;
    • Instructions for operating fire-fighting equipment and alarms in the building;
    • Procedures for giving instructions and training to people working in the building and to ensure that instruction is given;
    • Contact details for the Responsible Persons and other people responsible for evacuating the building, the Fire Safety Advisor (in a High Occupancy Building), as well as for the people responsible for giving instructions and for developing and reviewing the Fire and Evacuation Plan.Penalties range from $11,000 for a simple offence, or up to $220,000 and three years jail for an offence which leads to a fire causing multiple deaths.
  3. Identify a person responsible for carrying out the evacuation coordination procedures
    All buildings (except Class 1a) are required to have a responsible person who can carry out the Fire and Evacuation Plan. The responsible person is commonly known as the Chief Fire Warden. Others responsible are commonly known as Fire Wardens, Floor Wardens and/or Deputy Wardens.The number of people responsible for carrying out the Fire and Evacuation Plan must be determined by a risk analysis of the building. There are no firm rules for determining how many people need to be responsible, except that it must be enough to ensure that their duties may be carried out effectively.
  4. Have an evacuation practice at least annually
    Conduct an annual evacuation practice – ‘The Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 – Division 7: Evacuation practices44 Evacuation practice – other buildings
    1. This section applies to the occupier of a building other than a budget accommodation building.
    2. The occupier of the building must ensure that an evacuation of the building is carried out-
      1. By an appropriate number of persons; and
      2. In an appropriate way; and
      3. At intervals of not more than one year.’

    ‘Examples of operations of subsection (2)-

    1. The managing agent for an apartment block has made reasonable efforts to contact residents of the building to organise a practice evacuation but some residents are absent and others are sick. The agent arranges an evacuation at a time when most of the residents are present. The agent also arranges for some residents to evacuate from different parts of the buildings general access area to simulate evacuation of the residents who live near those parts.’ (Emphasis added)
  5. Complete an occupier’s statement annually
    There is a requirement that the occupier of a building must complete an annual occupier’s statement. This statement declares that all Fire Safety Installations are properly installed and maintained by appropriately qualified people in accordance with the QDC, AS 1851 or another appropriate Australian Standard or recommendation. A copy of the statement must be sent to the fire commissioner within 10 days of the date the statement is required to be prepared initially (1 July 2009).

Additional fire compliance requirements

Maintain and store documentation and records to prove fire requirements have been met.  There are a number of requirements relating to the keeping of records. Records must be kept in relation to every aspect of fire safety including

  • Maintenance of prescribed Fire Installations
  • Copies of the Fire and Evacuation Plan and diagrams and records of annual reviews
  • Records of training for Responsible Persons
  • Records of the evacuation training and evacuation practice conducted
  • Records of annual occupiers statements

Most buildings will be compliant if they meet their ANNUAL requirements to:

  1. Maintain prescribed Fire Safety Installations (FSI);
  2. Keep checking defined evacuation routes are clear and safe;
  3. Complete a Fire and Evacuation Plan and review it annually;
  4. Identify a person responsible for carrying out the evacuation coordination procedures and train them;
  5. Have an evacuation practice at least annually;
  6. Complete an occupier’s statement annually.

When a building is audited by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services or an insurer, they are looking for the records to show that all the above obligations have been met. Having up to date records is paramount.

Your safety is top priority

Apart from the compliance requirements, making sure that everyone residing or visiting your premises is safe, should be everyone’s no 1 concern. Make sure your Body Corporate Managers or Committee is vigilant about your obligations and compliance.

This article discussing fire compliance Queensland was kindly supplied by Donagh, Solutions in Engineering.

31 replies on “All you need to know about Fire Compliance, Qld”

For a class two building when an evacuation drill is undertaken. What qualifications do you need to conduct one.
If I record the day and time the drill was undertaken and who was present, and signatories obtained would this meet the requirement of an annual fire evacuation drill?

Hi Robert

We’ve sourced this response to your question from Stefan Bauer, Fire Matters:

For buildings less than 25m in height or premises with less than 30 employees no formal qualification is required, Qld legislation is designed for the owner / occupier to self manage this part of the legislated requirement. The Qld Fire and Rescue website provides information for building owners / occupants on what needs to be covered in the training under the legislation and also provides form that need to be completed and retained as part of the required documentation.

Stefan Bauer
Fire Matters
E: sbauer@firematters.com.au
P: 07 3901 8203

Our unit block has 2×3 6×1 bedroom apartments it is 2 story and all stairways exit doors are on outside of building hence no fire doors,smoke alarms,hoses,fire extinguisher no fire equipment that needs to be service, we have a evacuation plan near each entrance and do and record afire evacuation yearly, my question is what else is required of our apartments? thank you.

Recently we divided an office into two separate areas with fixed shelving. One area is used as an office and the other for storage. Both areas have a door to the outside. There is no access from one area to the other. There is one person who works in the office who occasionally has to interview people for a short time (1/2 hour) The whole room is approx 18sq meters. Do you think we have blocked a way of getting out of the room even though there are doors in both areas?

Kevin Lloyd-Thomassays:
15/01/2022 at 6:37 pm
Question: We have a tenant in our Gold Coast apartment building who, even though instructed not to do so, when taking his dog for a walk, exits the building via the Fire Emergency Exit door in the basement, and props it open.
Is he breaking the fire compliance law, and what are the ramifications for security and insurance?
In anticipation – Thank you

Question: We have a tenant in our Gold Coast apartment building who, even though instructed not to do so, when taking his dog for a walk, exits the building via the Fire Emergency Exit door in the basement, and props it open.
Is he breaking the fire compliance law, and what are the ramifications for security and insurance?
In anticipation – Thank you

Hi Stefan,

A Class 2, >25m effective height, triggers the appointed of a Fire Safety Advisor under BFSR.

Does this FSA require a QBCC licence to provide advice and report on buildings?

Hi Sean,

An FSA can comment on the Emergency Plan and Evacuation Diagrams only – they can not provide a report on installation / maintenance compliance without holding the QBCC certifier license for the equipment type they are providing a report for.

From the 1st of May 2021 the QBCC no longer manages them FSA licensing, the only way to confirm that the license is current (FSA license is only valid for 3 years) is to obtain a copy of there completion certificate.

In a gated community what are the requirements for the number of exit gates. There are 140 duplex units

From a Fire Safety perspective there is no provision to the number of gates required in a gated complex in the NCC or in the Qld Fire Safety Regulation. The requirements are limited for the occupants to be able to get to a place of safety in the event of a fire.

In a complex with 400 + villas there is only one exit gate and a temporary exit that is part of a construction zone which is locked. How is this complacent with fire safety?

I am the live in manager of a class 2 high occupancy building that is 50% permanent resident and 50% hotel accommodation. After the office closes I am the only staff member on site, do I need to be on site at all times until another staff member is onsite ? What are the possible repercussions if I am not on site if we have an evacuation alarm?

What is the legislation regarding the installation of blue markers to identify hydrants on roads without pathways in a retirement village?

There is provision in the fire legislation (Qld).
This may be depend on the council. It is however a good idea to indicate the locations of the hydrants. In a private estate i.e. retirement village there should be a block plan at each entry point showing the location of the hydrant points.

Our gates, to exit and enter the unit property, have been changed to key only.
Is that to code?

Hi Caryn,
the Building Fire Safety Regulations (sec 10) require that doors in the path of egress are openable without a key, this would include gates within the common area that are in the path to the assembly area.

what are the present requirements for a mixed 3 storey development built1998/99 compliance?

Hello, can you please advice me how many emergency exists are require for class 1a. Thanks

Hi Eddy,

A class 1a building does not require any prescribed exists under the National Construction Code. The front (and back door where installed) is the only exit. It is up to the occupant to keep exit routes clear of obstructions and have a locking procedure for the exit door (s). The safety features for this class of building consist of working smoke alarms (soon to be interconnected) and expert recommend an emergency plan for the premises to be practised with all occupants, it is important to include kids if residing at the premises.

Hi Alex,

the number of exits are depending on the building size and construction type. If the building is >25m two exits of each storey must be provided. In Class 5 or 6 building <25m, the distance to a single exit serving a Storey at the level of access to a road or space may be increased to 30 m.

Stefan Bauer

Hi Alex,
in order to be able to answer that question more information is required. The size, height and date of construction of the building all need to be considered.
As a guideline, a building that exceeds 500 sqm in floor size or 3 storeys in heights usually presents two exits of each storey. If no alteration to the building have been made over time it is safe to assume that the building was complaint when constructed and commissioned and would satisfy the Compliance of the construction code at the time.

Hi Michael,

Compliance measures such as this need be reviewed with an appropriately qualified fire contractor. They can assess the exact needs of your building and advise if it is a requirement or recommendation. Otherwise you can check the legislative requirements around smoke alarms on the Queensland Government’s Fire and Emergency services webpage: https://www.qfes.qld.gov.au/community-safety/smokealarms/Pages/default.aspx

Hi Michael,
all class 3 buildings are required to have smoke alarms or a fire detection system. This is depending on the size and construction of the building. In a motel type accommodation a smoke alarm must be installed as minimum in each room. Multiple storey accommodation buildings comply when they have a fire detection system installed to AS1670 or they could also have smoke alarms within each SOU and AS1670 installation in the common area of the building depending on when the building was constructed – refer to the NCC E2.2a Specification applicable at the time of construction to assess the applicable performance requirements or contract a building certifier for assessment.

Is it the responsibility to for the Body Corporate to include on their agenda for AGM’s the appointment of a fire warden for the building?

Hi John,

generally a class two building does not have appointed wardens. Its can not be guaranteed that the appointed resident will be onsite during an emergency and therefore the emergency procedure can not rely on specific warden function. In a residential building it is up to each occupant to familiarise themselves with the buildings fire safety features and establish their own emergency plan within their SOU. The only requirement for the Body Corporate is to facilitate an annual evacuation exercise


Stefan Bauer

Stefan Bauer

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