NSW: Fire Safety in Aged Care Facilities

Fire Sprinkler HeadIt is estimated that more than 60,000 people live in Commonwealth Government accredited residential aged care facilities across NSW and that, as at March 2013, about 55% of all existing residential aged care facilities do not have fire sprinkler systems installed.

After the devastating fires at Quakers Hill in November 2011, the New South Wales government established laws requiring the mandatory installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems in all residential aged care facilities in NSW effective January 1, 2013 by or before March 2016.

A number of facilities were required to meet an earlier deadline of 1 September 2014 and the remainder of aged care facilities must retrofit fire sprinkler systems by 1 March 2016. These aged care providers are subject to strict reporting requirements and regular review.

On July 1, 2015, Ivan Donaldson, Chairperson of the Fire Sprinkler Systems Implementation Committee published the Fire Sprinkler Systems Implementation Committee Annual Report. This report provides the Government and Community a progress report and overview of the implementation plan for the period March 2014 – February 2015.

In the annual report, the Committee identified that a full picture of progress will not be available until it has had the opportunity to analyse providers’ progress reports (due March, 1 2015) against their Implementation Plans and other industry data still to be received. As a result a supplementary report was produced in April 2015. The findings of these reports are as follows;

As at 8 April 2015:

  • 242 facilities had concluded the program
  • 80 facilities were in the process of completing their installations
  • 144 facilities were in planning, design or approval phases of their installations.

This means that over 600 facilities now have sprinklers out of the over 880 facilities counted at the beginning of 2013.

According to the supplementary report, the program has made very good progress to date and the aged care industry has shown a high level of support for the Government’s safety initiative.

The Committee also identified an issue that there are signs of potential constraints on supply of designers and installers of sprinkler systems. The Committee will continue to monitor supply and demand issues and advise Government on this important matter.

While this article seeks to paraphrase the issues identified in the report from a fire protection perspective, readers should download a copy of the report for full detail;

For more information about the requirements for Fire Sprinkler Systems in residential aged care facilities in New South Wales, visit the Department of Planning & Environment website.

Firewize provides maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment for building owners, including nursing homes, aged care, private and public health care facilities. For more information, contact Firewize on 1300 30 88 22.

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