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Commencement of the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018

Posted on : Tuesday, 30 June 2020

On 1 July, 2020, the NSW Government's Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018  (the Act) and Building and Development Certifiers Regulation 2020  (the Regulation) will commence. 

 

These instruments are part of the Government's response to the Lambert Report into the Building Professionals Act 2005

 

In that report, Michael Lambert recommended several reforms to improve building certification and deliver certainty for both clients and for the broader community. 

 

One of these proposals was for: 

 

"… certification [to] be provided by accredited persons with the necessary qualifications and experience for the design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance of fire safety systems, preferably by drawing upon the existing accreditation schemes developed by the relevant professional associations." 

 

This led to the introduction of Competent Fire Safety Practitioners (CFSP) in October, 2017, and, consequently, the proposed recognition of Fire Protection Association Australia's (FPA Australia) Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS). 

 

These changes were introduced under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, which is the responsibility of the Department of Planning, however the recognition of certifiers and the licensing of trades fall under the Department of Customer Service (DCS). 

 

The Act and Regulation are therefore designed to move that responsibility to a policy instrument managed directly by DCS.  

 

 

So what are these changes? 

 

The main focus of the Act is the registration of certifiers. 

 

This has resulted in amendments in a number of key areas, such as: 

 

  • improvements to registration;

 

  • changes to assist with the availability of insurance;

 

  • changes to compliance obligations;

 

  • improved enforcement mechanisms; and

 

  • minimal changes for fire safety practitioners. 

 

For our industry, the amendments focus on what, until now, has been referred to as CFSPs.  In particular, the reforms will:  

 

  • rename certain certification roles, for example: 
    • a C8 is now an engineer - electrical;
    • a C9 is an engineer - mechanical;
    • a C10 is a certifier - fire safety; and
    • a C14 is a certifier - hydraulic (building);

 

  • rename competent fire safety practitioners to accredited practitioners (fire safety);

 

  • require people who carry out "regulated work" to be accredited, where such accreditation is available.  "Regulated work" includes work carried out as an accredited practitioner under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, or any other work identified under this Act; 

 

  • require accredited practitioners to keep records for a minimum of 10 years;

 

  • codify the co-regulatory arrangements for accreditation and the process for recognising accreditation authorities, allowing for appeals to NCAT if recognition is denied;

 

  • create processes to investigate accreditation authorities and require them to publish information on their websites; and

 

  • create guidelines for types of continuing professional development (CPD). 

 

 

What does this mean for the fire protection sector? 

 

The Secretary and Department of Customer Service have indicated that FPA Australia's FPAS will be approved in writing under section 59 of the Act, and the decision gazetted. 

 

This will mean that practitioners will need to be accredited with FPA Australia if they:  

 

  • endorse plans and specifications for relevant fire safety systems (detection systems, sprinklers, hydrants, hose reels); or

 

  • conduct annual (or supplementary) fire safety assessments. 

 

The only exceptions will be for practitioners registered as C8 electrical engineers or C14 hydraulic certifiers, who will be able to endorse plans for detection systems or sprinklers/hydrants/hose reels respectively.  

 

In situations where an accreditation scheme has not been recognised - mechanical services design, cl.164B exemptions, or the design of performance solutions - it will still be up to a certifier to decide whether someone is competent to perform the work. 

 

The Act makes several changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, including abolishing clause 167A, but to all intents and purposes it will make little difference to accredited practitioners, apart from the name change and a requirement to keep records. 

 

FPA Australia is liaising with the Department to ensure that everything goes smoothly, and we are not expecting any significant concerns. 

 

For more information about FPAS accreditation, contact us at fpas@fpaa.com.au, or tune in to one of our weekly Q&A webinars.