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Fire safety tips for commercial property

3 April 2018

It is essential for a real estate agent to be aware of the issues relating to fire prevention and risk reduction in commercial properties.
In a recent webinar with REINSW, three industry experts – Bobby Suminoski, Principal and Director at Four Walls Commercial, Michael Laing, Director Commercial Division at The Agency, and Stephen Sonter, Managing Director at Fire Prevention Technologies – discussed the key roles and requirements of agents in relation to commercial property fire safety.

Fire safety certificates

Stephen explained the difference between a Final Fire Safety Certificate, which must be issued based on the installed fire safety measure e.g. the fire alarm system, extinguishers, etc., and an Annual Fire Safety Certificate, which is issued by the building owner every 12 months following the issue of the original documentation. 

“For a building owner, the biggest change in the latest legislation and a critical component is that a competent fire safety practitioner should be employed to do the work,” Stephen asserted.

“It’s critical to ensure that all that documentation is right in the first instance in order to avoid future issues of there being misunderstandings of what the minimum standards for performance are.”

Types of buildings and classes

Buildings are classified under one of the following:

Class 5: office and commercial buildings
Class 6: retail buildings
Classes 7-8: industrial buildings

Depending on the building class and size, there are different requirements for fire safety services, including: 

Fire extinguishers
Exit emergency lighting
Hose reels
Smoke alarms
Smoke detectors
Fire detection systems
Fire alarm systems
Full sprinkler systems
Fire doors
A/C shutdowns
Fire fan controls

Types of building uses and fire safety requirements

“The basic requirement for the fire services requirements in any building is the size, the height, the construction and the use of the building (which they call the hazard). If you upgrade or alter a building, or you change the uses of a building, you definitely tick boxes in regards to insurance issues and hazard issues. The same thing applies across all classes,” Stephen explained.

“That could definitely relate to purchasers looking at the building, and also with tenants moving into a space that may have been in different usage to what they propose to use it for. Get expert advice on what requirements they would need to install in order to comply,” Bobby said. 

Your role and obligations as an agent 

“Be mindful of fire safety services when you’re going to inspect a property. As agents, if you’re not sure, ask the question of the owner or the fire services company. Whether you’re selling, leasing or managing the property, you need to be comfortable providing that advice to any potential purchaser, any existing tenant or new and incoming tenant. Having a bit of knowledge of the fire services within the building is quite crucial,” Bobby said.

“The big thing for principals and property managers is the risk management in terms of the operation of the business and looking after the individual properties. It’s very important to ensure you do your best to comply with all of the various pieces of legislation. It’s important to ensure you have a good solid agreement in place with the contractor,” Michael said.

Michael also outlined an agent’s fire evacuation and emergency procedure obligations. “There is an obligation to maintain a procedures and protocols manual, to have evacuation plans on display, and depending on the size of the building to have a structure for evacuation where you have an emergency control organisation,” he said.

To find out more, watch the webinar in full here .