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Wollongong City Council

Fire Safety

We work to promote fire safety, and help to keep people and property safe.

Fire safety rules apply to all types of buildings, including residential, commercial, retail and industrial property. This covers:

  • New buildings: new development needs to be designed and built to meet fire safety standards.
  • Existing buildings: fire safety measures must be regularly checked and kept in good order.

The building owner is responsible for maintaining fire safety measures. In strata properties, the owners’ corporation or body corporate carries this responsibility.

Smoke alarms are a simple and effective way to detect smoke and provide a warning when there is a fire. Smoke alarms can potentially save lives and help reduce property damage in the event of a fire.

By law, smoke alarms are compulsory in every residential dwelling or unit. This includes private homes, as well as other places people sleep like hotels and boarding houses.

For more information about smoke alarms, see:

Change your batteries!

You should change your smoke alarm’s back-up battery at least once a year. Pick a date that’s easy for you to remember. It could be the day you change your clocks back after daylight savings, or any other date that works for you.

Essential fire safety measures are features in a building to protect its occupants during a fire or other emergency. This can include:

  • Automatic fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers
  • Fire hose reels
  • Fire hydrants
  • Automatic fire detection and alarm systems
  • Fire doors
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Smoke exhaust systems
  • Exit signs
  • Emergency lighting
  • The building’s design
  • Materials used to construct the building.

Council keeps a register of buildings with essential fire safety measures. This includes:

  • Boarding houses
  • Residential flats with two or more storeys
  • Commercial buildings
  • Industrial buildings
  • Professional offices
  • Health care buildings
  • Schools
  • Public car parks.

A fire safety schedule is a document describing all of the essential fire safety measures in a building. It can include measures that already exist, as well as ones that are proposed.

The fire safety schedule lists the minimum standard of performance that each safety measure must be able to operate to. This standard will usually refer to the Building Code of Australia, an Australian Standard, or both.

A fire safety schedule is issued:

  • With a construction certificate or complying development approval for new building work
  • With a development or complying development consent when there is a change in the use of a building (eg converting a shop to an office)
  • With a fire safety order.

Every 12 months the building owner or a person acting on their behalf must arrange an inspection by a competent fire safety practitioner.

The NSW Government has a handy guide to selecting a competent fire safety practitioner.

The fire safety practitioner will check that:

  • all required fire safety measures are installed, and
  • all fire safety measures meet the required performance standard.

Sometimes an owner may be required to inspect safety measures more often than once a year. This usually happens in cases where the safety measures are considered to be of critical importance.

The building owner or their representative must regularly provide paperwork to both Council and NSW Fire and Rescue to confirm they’re meeting fire safety standards.

See our Fire Safety Certificates and Statements page for details.

New laws for buildings with combustible cladding were introduced after the tragic 2017  fire at Grenfell Tower in London, and the fire at Melbourne’s Lacrosse Building in 2014.

The owners of the following types of buildings that are two or more storeys and have external combustible cladding must register their building with the NSW Government:

  • residential apartments
  • shared accommodation
  • aged care
  • public assembly buildings.

Visit the NSW Department of Planning website for details.

We have a proactive inspection program to make sure buildings in our city meet fire safety requirements. Building owners are charged a fee for inspections.

Our inspection program gives priority to buildings that pose the greatest risk to safety, like boarding houses, nightclubs and buildings without a Fire Safety Schedule.

We may also inspect buildings if we get a complaint about them, or if they’re being looked at for development approval or change of use.

If an inspection uncovers problems, Council may ask for an independent expert’s report to identify what changes are needed to meet current standards.

Council or Fire and Rescue NSW can issue Fire Safety Orders if a building does not meet the correct fire safety standards.

There are two types of Fire Safety Orders:

Emergency Orders

Emergency Orders are issued when immediate action is required to reduce fire risk.
The owner should contact Council as soon as possible to confirm that they have complied, or will comply with this order.

If the owner does not act immediately they will face court action.

Notice of Intention to Serve an Order

This notice is issued for lower-level risks, or where extensive work is needed that can’t be done straight away.

If you want to appeal a Fire Safety Order or ask for more time, your request must be made using the form below before the expiry date on the Notice of Order:

Fire Safety Notice of Intention / Order – Representation Request Form PDF, 95.05 KB

The form must be signed by the building owner or their representative.

If you are requesting more time to complete works, you must attach a program of works with scheduled completion dates.

Council will advise you in writing of the outcome of your request.

We try to work with building owners and help them meet their legal obligations for fire safety. However, building owners can face penalties and enforcement action for:

  • not providing the required fire safety measures
  • not filing compulsory paperwork before the due date
  • not preparing paperwork in line with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000
  • not following any other notices or Fire Safety Orders issued by Council or Fire and Rescue NSW.

You can also read our Fire Safety Policy PDF, 69.82 KB for information about how we act to promote fire safety and help people meet their obligations in this area.