Regulations in NSW, Victoria, and other jurisdictions place an emphasis on owners submitting annual statements about their fire systems.
The purpose of this so that owners are informed about the performance of their systems and ensure their ongoing maintenance.
In NSW a recent change has introduced penalties for owners who fail to maintain their systems or to submit annual fire safety statements (AFSS), so there is clearly an expectation that owners are responsible – while an agent can submit an AFSS, they cannot be made responsible for maintenance requirements.
However, over several years, many owners have sought to delegate their responsibilities – often to the practitioners carrying out the assessments themselves.
This has reduced their knowledge of the safety of their buildings and created opportunities for practitioners to cut corners or (in more extreme cases) perhaps not even turn up at all.
While this loophole has now been closed, the questions remain:
- Do owners know their responsibilities?
- Can they take a greater role in ensuring the safety of their buildings?
- Should they?