As a building owner you are legally responsible for ensuring the safety of the occupants of your building. You must provide evidence demonstrating that all reasonable steps have been taken to ensure the essential safety measures installed have been maintained. This will help to keep your building is safe for those who live in, work in, or just pass through it.
Without such consideration owners or the owners may face fines and even prosecution. Ultimately ensuring your high-rise building has a fire safety preventative maintenance program in place is a cost-effective and ethical way to respond to the safety requirements which are continually updated by the government and other regulatory bodies.
High-rise buildings come with their own unique set of hazards, making the regulations appear onerous if you aren’t familiar with the intricacies of those regulations. When the health and safety of people lie in the balance, such regulations cannot be ignored or neglected. Buildings over 25 metres in height–which equates to 7 or 8 floors–are high-rise buildings as per the Building Code of Australia.
The hazards which are typically found in high-rise buildings involve:
- Careless smoking where cigarette butts or hot ash cause fires
- Electrical faults which cause short circuits or overloading of the electrical system
- Open flames such as those produced by electric welding during maintenance
- Careless cooking or cooking accidents
- Using building materials which have been proven to increase the spread of fires, such as the cladding used on the Grenfell Tower in London
- Alterations to the building which may have had an impact on the fire services installed
- Fire safety equipment which is not regularly maintained
What Fire Safety Audits for High-Rise Buildings Entail
The building owner may engage an agent to sign the annual essential safety measures report. It is a legal requirement to retain service records in the form of logbooks as supporting evidence of a preventative maintenance program for all your essential safety measures. During an ESM audit the auditor will check for supporting documentation and test sheets, that testing has been carried out to the required frequency and that any defects identified as part of these inspection have been rectified. If the auditor is satisfied that all reasonable steps have been taken to ensure that each essential safety measure is operating at the required level of performance and fulfilling its purpose a signed AESMR will be issued to the building owner. Council and other interested parties such as insurance companies may request copies of this document.
If the building was built or modified since 1 July 1994, the list of essential safety measures and type of maintenance required will be listed with the Occupancy Permit or Certificate of Final Inspection.
If the building was constructed prior to 1 July 1994, there will not be an occupancy permit in place however the owner is still responsible for ensuring that any safety equipment and the essential safety measures installed are maintained and fulfilling their purpose.
If you would like to conduct a fire safety audit on your high-rise building or if you need additional advice regarding the fire safety of your building, get in touch with us today.