Damage or Interfere with a Fire Indicator Panel or other Apparatus

In respect to this article, the main purposes of the changes to the Country Fire Authority Act 1958; and the Metropolitan Fire Brigades Act 1958 are to “reflect current organisational arrangements and clarify the command structures applying at fires, to increase penalties and create new offences to mitigate risks that undermine effective emergency response and community safety and to modernise outdated provisions

The Emergency Services Legislation Amendment Act 2012 (Vic) was proclaimed on December 1, 2012 and introduced two new Sections (amongst other amendments) in each of the corresponding legislation as follows;

  • Section 106A of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 (Vic)
  • Section 75B of the Metropolitan Fire Brigades Act 1958 (Vic)

Implications of the Changes

The implication of this legislation is that people who damage, or interfere with a fire indicator panel or other apparatus may be exposed to prosecution and fines for under this new legislation. For the purposes of this guide, the terms “fire indicator panel or other apparatus” (“fire safety systems”) includes: fire detection & alarm systems, alarm signalling equipment, automatic fire sprinkler systems, fire pump-sets, emergency warning & intercommunication systems. Legitimate work likely includes inspection, testing and maintenance for short periods of time until the activity has been completed.

For longer periods, it is recommended to seek written approval from the Building Owner, Occupier, Agent and Fire Brigade before starting any work.

Application

The practical aspects of the changes in legislation are far reaching for people working on fire safety systems. For this reason, we have provided a three of application guides for Firewize employees and agents working on fire safety systems;

General Precautions

  1. Consider the building’s use and occupancy
  2. Undertake a Job Safety Analysis (“JSA”) prior to undertaking any work.
  3. Complete a Safe Work Method Statement (“SWMS”) if required before undertaking any work.
  4. Consider the impact of your work on the stakeholders of the building such as occupants, public, building owner or owners agent before undertaking any work.
  5. Minimise the extent of any isolation or disablement to only the areas or zones directly affected by the building work.
  6. Minimise the time the fire system is disabled to the least time possible.
  7. Get approval from the responsible person before undertaking any work.
  8. Notify the responsible person as soon as practical when the fire safety system has been reinstated.

Given there is different types of work that is carried out on fire systems, there may be different approaches to the way we manage interfering with a fire system. Every case MUST be carefully considered so as to ensure we do not adversely affect the safety of the occupants of a building.

For more information about this subject, contact Firewize Support and we will send you a copy of the relevant information prepared by the Emergency Services (MFB & CFA) as well as a copy of our good practice guide.

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