Australian Standard AS1851:2005 has been published for almost six months and most building owners have yet to make a commitment to its adoption. The new standard is very comprehensive but without regulatory and code support may remain on the back burner for most building owners.
In a recent whitepaper the FPA suggested that building owners have a common law duty of care to adopt the new standard based on community expectations
Legal advice to the FPA that is published in the White Paper states;
"The recent release of the new standard for Maintenance of Fire Protection Systems and Equipment AS 1851:2005 raises the need for building owners, building occupiers and essential service providers to assess and consider the applicability of this new standard to their particular circumstances. This consideration must take into account the relationship between these parties in a contractual sense as well as in tort and other legislative requirements. In a greater sense the building owners, occupiers and essential service providers must also consider their relationship with the community and the obligations owed to ensure adequate protection of property and life as required specifically by the Building Code of Australia and the common law.
This new Australian Standard must be considered to be the most recent benchmark for maintenance of Fire Safety Protection Systems and Equipment. As such the building owner, building occupier and essential service provider must determine whether by not adopting the new standard they may be considered to be negligent.
Building owners and occupiers must consider adoption of this new standard, as the most up to date and recent Australian Standard, will be necessary to comply with community standards. Such consideration will require considered legal opinion as to whether AS 1851:2005 should not be adopted in each particular situation.
Although Australian Standards are not a Legislative Regulation, they are often considered 'quasi regulations' and can be persuasive in a court of law as they can be taken to connote industry and community standards. As fire protection is a matter of public necessity, it is incumbent on building owners and occupier to determine whether in their particular circumstances they can perform both their public duties as well as legislative requirements without adopting AS 1851:2005."
I highlighted the relevant 'scary' part of this quotation for us and our customers.
Meanwhile there currently is a period of grace where service providers, building owners, occupiers and agents are all still getting their heads around the changes, but this period WILL end.
For now, we continue to document the changes on our intranet and have already started to educate our team and customers on the new obligations.