The Hills Shire Council calls for an audit on medium to high rise buildings

Mayor Yvonne Keane
Mayor Yvonne Keane

Mayor of The Hills Shire, Councillor Yvonne Keane is appealing to the Department of Planning and Environment to review the role, function and the accountability of private certifiers in the certification process after another building failed simple fire safety standards.

An inspection by Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) on a unit complex on Crane Road in Castle Hill revealed numerous fire safety deficiencies within the building including a faulty alarm and detection device and the absence of a fire hydrant system.

The building report comes just one month after Mayor Keane called on the State Government to review the Building Professionals Board and its code of conduct for private certifiers following a building on Garthowen Crescent which was exposed by the FRNSW to lack a fire hydrant booster assembly and fire hose reels, as well as provide a safe evacuation route from the complex during an emergency.

Mayor Keane said it was only a matter of time before there were fatalities as a result of the flawed building certification system in NSW.

“I am deeply concerned that this could just be the tip of the iceberg,” Mayor Keane said.

“The community will not tolerate any loss of life due to buildings not having the required standards of fire safety.

“We need to provide over 700,000 new dwellings in Sydney in the form of high density apartments and the lack of building construction oversight is nothing short of alarming. There are inherent conflicts of interest and we are seeing blatant failure to comply with fire safety standards.

“I am asking the Department of Planning and Environment to step in and coordinate a comprehensive audit of medium to high rise buildings to make sure all residents in Sydney are safe,” Mayor Keane added.

Mayor Keane said she also wants the Building Professionals Board to slap private certifiers with tougher fines if developments fail to pass building codes and standards.

“Any certifier that approves a building without the minimum fire safety standards is risking residents lives,” Mayor Keane said.

“Some of the penalties I’ve seen given out to private certifiers are around the $5000 – $15,000 mark, which is ridiculous for developments worth tens of millions of dollars.”

Council has written to the Minister for Planning, Anthony Roberts MP and the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Matt Kean MP requesting investigations be conducted into the standard of certification of apartment buildings and the actions of the Building Professionals Board in relation to apartment buildings errors being passed on as acceptable by private certifiers.