On 6 April, fire-safety assessment changed.
From that date, any practitioner who assesses and endorses measures on an annual fire-safety statement in New South Wales must hold accreditation as a Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS) Fire Safety Assessor (FSA).
Likewise, those who endorse plans and specifications for sprinklers, hydrants and hose reels, and fire detection and alarm systems must be FPAS Fire Systems Design (FSD) accredited, unless they hold other accreditation recognized by the Building Professionals Board.
Practitioners accredited under these classifications will be recognized by the NSW Government as competent fire-safety practitioners (CFSP). Anyone without an accreditation number will henceforth be unable to submit designs or carry out annual assessments.
For building owners, this change means a significant reduction in the time and risk involved in finding a CFSP, as required under NSW legislation.
While the requirement for building owners to find a ‘competent’ fire-safety practitioner has not changed, the method of determining that competency has.
Building owners will no longer need to undertake time-consuming research into their service providers; they will simply need to verify an accreditation number on a national online register. They can be confident that FPAS-accredited practitioners are competent, hold appropriate insurance, and are held to FPA Australia’s Code of Professional Conduct.
For fire-protection practitioners, it is of course far more significant. With an accreditation scheme developed by industry now recognized by the NSW Government, the fire-protection industry is in many ways taking hold of its own future by increasing professionalism and delivering higher standards.
The change will allow us to weed out the ‘cowboys’ who are reducing the professionalism and quality of service provided by the industry.
The move towards accreditation is matched by a commitment by FPA Australia to investigate complaints and audit at least 10% of practitioners per year – leaving the ‘cowboys’ with nowhere to hide.
This supports practitioners who are doing the right thing and stops the race to the bottom, as accredited individuals will no longer have to compete with unscrupulous operators.
For owners, managers, and occupants of buildings, and for the broader NSW community, accreditation means that everyone can have greater confidence that the buildings in which they live and work are safe.