A Fire Engineering Report or FER is a results of a Performance-based Assessment completed by a Fire Safety Engineer often at the building design stage. The FER would typically contain an engineering assessment to address nominated departures for the Building Code prescriptive provisions, also referred to as Deemed-to-Satisfy, or DTS Provisions. Building Certifiers will request the FER to be completed before they can issue building approvals. The Building Certifiers’ obligations in relation to FERs are outlined within the respective State Legislation.
It is to be noted that in all FERs it will be stated that the report is to be treated as a Fire Safety Measure, a copy must be kept on site at all times and the requirements of the FER are to be added to be building fire safety schedule. The terminology will vary from State to State, but the point is that the FER becomes an integral part of the building maintenance and management documentation and is not just a document required for approval.
In the FER, it will also be outlined that should there be any changes to the building such as a change in use or layout, the FER will need to be reviewed and its validity confirmed by an accredited Fire Safety Engineer.
It can become problematic and expensive for a building owner in case the FER is lost. There will be issues, such as:
- The building is not able to be issued with the annual fire safety / occupier’s statement;
- Approval documentation can be delayed or not issued at all, should there be planned alternation to the building;
- Expensive building rectification may be imposed on the building owners because a design feature or installation is identified to be non-compliant with the DTS Provisions of the Building Code at some point in time.
Building owners are obliged to maintain the fire safety equipment in the building to its original standard of performance. The FER is one of those standards of performance, therefore a copy of the FER must be made available on request for the life of the building.
The easiest way of holding documents on site is either within the fire control room/centre, within the Fire Indicator Panel or in a specifically installed documentation box if neither of the above is available. A copy should also be with the Strata Manager and the fire safety maintenance contractor.