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NSW Fire Protection to Improve - Victoria Still Waiting

Posted on : Monday, 23 January 2017

Buildings in the Victorian town of Wodonga will be less safe than those just over the NSW  border in Albury, because the Victorian Government has fallen behind on important fire safety reforms while NSW is on the brink of introducing wide spread improvements, according to Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia).


"FPA Australia believes the regulatory changes proposed by the NSW Government to improve fire safety are once-in-a-generation, nation leading reforms that all other states and territories should follow. People and property will be safer as a result," explained FPA Australia CEO Scott Williams.


"At the moment almost anyone can undertake critical life-saving fire safety work on items such as alarms, sprinklers and extinguishers in places like apartment blocks, sporting stadiums, schools, hospitals or office towers. Under the NSW proposed reforms, people will have to demonstrate their competence and be accredited under recognised schemes such as FPA Australia's Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS). 


 "The NSW reforms will improve documentation including plans, specifications and baseline data information; improved vigilance for compliance including critical stage inspections; and improved competency requirements including clarification of who can undertake certain fire safety activities."


Mr Williams said the Victorian community will not be so well protected because anyone can claim to have the expertise to do many of these tasks and never need to have their competence confirmed.


"This work is critical to life safety and the effective operation of systems and equipment is often the difference between tragedy and escape. People undertaking any work should themselves be able to prove they are capable.


 "It is  incomprehensible  that advances in fire safety only seem to come after major disasters like the Queensland Childers Palace Backpacker Hostel fire in 2000 where 15 people tragically  died; or the 2012 Bankstown, NSW fire that sadly claimed the life of Connie Zhang.


"Victoria was lucky that in 2014 the Lacrosse Apartment fire did not result in death and injury. FPA Australia would like to see the Victorian Andrews' Government build on the initiatives it has already taken and follow the NSW lead to introduce mandatory accreditation for the Fire Protection Industry as soon as possible."


Mr Williams urged all individuals working within the fire protection industry to review the NSW draft regulations and comment before the consultation period ends on 31 January.


"This is a chance to help shape the future and be part of significant positive change. It is vital to be involved and provide comment either directly to the NSW Government or through FPA Australia."

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