4 Steps To Get A Council Fire Order Lifted [Free Checklist]

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It can be very daunting when your building is served with a Fire Safety Order or Notice of Intent from Council for the first time. To any building owner, a Fire Order can be an overwhelming document, listing alarming consequences like six-figure fines, legal action or even jail time!

Despite their intimidating language and consequences, at their core Council Fire Orders are good things. They play an important role in modern planning to catalyse action which improves the safety of your building, and the community as a whole. They also a provide a structure which helps owners navigate complex regulations and laws, helping buildings to be brought to the latest modern fire safety standards.

With that said, as a building owner you will want the order lifted quickly and cost effectively. This post outlines how to smoothly commence the process of getting a Council Fire Order completed and lifted.

Example Fire Order
An Example of a Fire Order from Northern Beaches Council

Step 1 - Read the Fire Order Notice

This title may seem obvious, but it needs to be said that Fire Orders are designed to help you, so it pays to actually read them. Review what Council is asking for, whilst paying particular attention to the sections that list actions, usually titled ‘To Do What’.

Take note of the time period provided in the Order, but do not assume that a compliance period measured in years means you can worry about it later. More than half of the Fire Orders we are engaged for are overdue, left by owners who thought they had heaps of time. Start straight away – trust me.

It’s highly recommended that part of this first step should be to meet with Council to understand the reasons for the Order. After your meeting, if you believe there has been a mistake, you can (politely) write to the Council Officer who has issued the order and request clarification. But note that Council will not rescind a Fire Order without a very good reason. It is a very good idea to utilise a professional third party to correspond on your behalf.

Step 2 - Obtain a BCA Report

The first thing that that will be requested by Council will almost always be a BCA Report.

A BCA Report is a document prepared by a specialist consultant who assesses your building against the Building Code of Australia (AKA the National Construction Code), identifies ‘non compliances’ or things that don’t meet safety standards, and produces a list of recommendations to be carried out.

Once completed, this document gets sent back to Council and the recommendations usually become the Scope of Works which must be completed for the Fire Order to be lifted.

To get a BCA Report, you will want request a quotation from a BCA Consultant or A1 Accredited Certifier. You can find a list of qualified BCA Consultants here. For projects around Sydney, we often engage the services of companies like BCA Logic, Private Certifiers Australia or Steve Watson & Partners.

You can expect to pay between $5,000 – $12,000 for this report, depending on the size of your building & complexity of the upgrades needed.

Step 3 - Create a Checklist of Deliverables

The requirements of a Fire Order can be complex and if anything is missed or done incorrectly, it can result in costly rework and delays. This is why it’s important to track what needs to be done, when, and to check it off as you go.

Once you receive the BCA Report, you should thoroughly review it alongside Council’s official correspondence. Whilst referring to these documents, create a Checklist which lists each deliverable required and the date it must be finished by. This will usually reflect the ‘Recommendations’ section of your BCA Report. Your checklist could include, as examples:

  • Obtain a Passive Fire Inspection Report
  • Obtain a Hydraulic Report for a Fire Hydrant
  • Submit a Completion Letter

It helps to break this up into sections – Preconstruction, Stages (if your Fire Order specifies stages), and Closing.

We have created a free Checklist Template for Fire Orders, simply click the download button below.

Checklist – Fire Order Deliverables.docx

Last Modified – 1st Jul, 2024

Step 4 - Choose a Manager, or Two.

Completing a Fire Order is a significant undertaking. To have the best chance of success, it should have two ‘Managers’ – one person from the Organisation, Strata or ownership group who will be the main point of contact. And the second person will an external project management professional who will run the project and be accountable for it’s execution.

Some building owners will try manage a Fire Order themselves, or double up and use their Strata/Property Manager for both roles, but this rarely works. It almost always results in re-doing incorrect work, and/or missing council deadlines, inevitably costing more money.

The Project Manager for your Fire Order should be knowledgeable enough that they pay for their own fee in the value and savings they bring. As some shameless self promotion, see our Case Study about how we saved one strata client almost half a million dollars.

Our company is a professional Project Management firm and one of our specialities is Fire Orders. We even offer a pretty bold guarantee on all Fire Orders – if your Fire Order is not lifted, you don’t pay.

The earlier your Project Manager gets involved, the smoother the process will be. We can manage your Fire Order from day 1, simply head to our contact page to get in touch.

Conclusion

Completing a Fire Order requires lots of upfront planning. Give it the best chance of success by following the above steps – 

  • Read the Fire Order properly.
  • Obtain a BCA Report.
  • Use a checklist to track your progress.
  • Select 2x Managers to be accountable for it’s execution – both an external Project Manager and an internal representative, if you are a Strata.

If you are unsure about any of these steps, we can help! We work with Clients and Councils all across New South Wales and Sydney including: Northern Beaches Council, North Sydney Council, Sydney Council, Mosman Council & more.

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