Fire and Rescue Victoria Update and Response

2 July 2020

We recently advised members about the creation of Fire Rescue Victoria and that we were seeking confirmation of referral arrangements arising from this.  We wrote to Fire Rescue Victoria seeking clarification on a number of matters and they have now responded. 

The response focuses on a pragmatic approach to making referrals, and we note that this reflects changes to the Building Act definition of ‘chief officer’ and other amendments arising from the ‘Firefighters Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment (Reform) Act 2019’ provisions which came into operation on 1 July 2020. We note that Section 228B(3) retains a reference to the chief officer as defined by the Metropolitan Fire Brigades Act 1958, as does Section 234(2).

Please find extract of the Fire Rescue Victoria letter response for your information: 

I am in receipt of and thank you for your letter dated 29 June 2020. 

In relation to the matters raised within your letter, I wish to offer you the following response. 

1. Centralised lodgement portal for all applications

Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) will be delivering all of the fire service specific built environment functions for the state of Victoria. As such, all report and consent applications, under Regulations 129 and 187 (1) of the Building Regulations 2018, should be lodged via e-mail to  bcaadmin@mfb.vic.gov.au.  

It is not considered necessary for AIBS members to lodge Regulation 129 and 187 (1) applications to the regional FRV locations as projects will be registered in a centralised location before being allocated to individual staff members. 

It is also important for your members to be made aware that unannounced and unscheduled visits to the Fire Rescue Victoria’s Burnley Complex are not permitted at this time by industry whilst COVID-19 social distancing restrictions are in place. Within the past week, 2 attempted visits to the Burnley Complex were made by members of industry for the purpose of expediting current Regulation 129 and Regulation 187 (1) report and consent applications. 

Bushfire specific built environment matters will continue to be delivered by the Country Fire Authority. 

2. Stakeholder consultation in the performance-based design brief process

Fire Safety Guideline GL-33, which is a joint badged MFB and CFA document that aligns to the expectations of the International Fire Engineering Guidelines 2005 (IFEG) as well as the process of Clause A2.2(4) of the National Construction Code, will continue to apply and be applied within all FRV and CFA response areas. On this basis, there will be no change to the current process of submitting fire engineering briefs to FRV, where a report and consent is required to be obtained under Regulations 129 or 187 (1).   

The application form for a fire protection report, which is downloadable from the FRV website, must be completed when fire engineering briefs are submitted during the schematic design stakeholder consultation process of a project.

One change that will take effect on 1 July 2020 is the removal of the requirement for an independent peer review report to accompany a Regulation 129 report and consent application that is also the subject of a fire performance solution. 

In relation to proposed building work or rectification solutions that specify or propose to retain the use of combustible cladding materials that do not meet the deemed-to-satisfy provisions of the National Construction Code, FRV will not participate in the traditional IFEG stakeholder consultation process. Consistent with FRV Community Resilience Policy CR1, FRV will only engage in the stakeholder consultation process when it is directed to by the Building Appeals Board or via a direct request from Cladding Safety Victoria. 

3. Charging of fees for fire protection reports


With the Fire Rescue Victoria (General) Regulations 2020 taking effect on 1 July 2020, the hourly rate that is charged for fire protection reports, inspections and advice in relation to fire prevention and suppression matters, will increase from $121 per hour (inc. GST) to 10 fee units per hour.    (Note: The current value of a fee unit is $14.81.) 

The new hourly rate, which was subjected to an economic evaluation under the Regulatory Impact Statement process for the establishment of the Fire Rescue Victoria (General) Regulations 2020, is aligned to the hourly rate that is prescribed under Regulation 48 of the Residential Tenancies (Caravan Parks and Movable Dwellings Registration and Standards) Regulations 2020. 

AIBS members will be aware, the fees previously charged by MFB and CFA were set in 1994 and only changed on one occasion as a result of the introduction of GST during the preceding 26-year period.
 

We trust this information is of assistance to you. Should you require further information or clarification of the above, please contact Fire Rescue Victoria or the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning if your need arises in relation to the Building Act provisions.