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Frequently Asked Questions

The information in this section is intended to provide standard answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) raised in relation to DFES involvement with the building approval process following the introduction on 2 April 2012 of the Building Act 2011 and Building Regulations 2012 (as further amended 19 December 2012). It is intended these FAQs will continue to be updated as Building Regulations are amended or where further clarification on matters pertaining to DFES is identified. It is important the role of DFES is understood within the building approval process and we encourage feedback.

Q1. Do I need to submit plans for a new house to DFES for assessment?

No, DFES does not assess or comment on single residential houses (Class 1a). The Building Regulations 2012 do not require the submission of plans for DFES assessment on Building Code of Australia (BCA) Class 1 and associated Class 10 buildings.

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Q2. What building plans or information should be sent to DFES for assessment and comment?

Under Regulation 18B(1) of the WA Building Regulations 2012 (as amended), plans and specifications in sufficient detail to allow assessment of compliance with DFES operational requirements for Class 2-9 buildings should be submitted to DFES Built Environment Branch as part of the approval process at least 15 days before a Certificate of Design Compliance for the proposed building is signed.

Within 10 days of receiving advice from DFES under Regulation 18B, the registered building surveyor signing the Certificate of Design Compliance must provide to DFES, notification in writing of any part of the advice that is not incorporated within the plans and specifications and; provide the reasons for not incorporating the advice as required under Regulation 15A(1).

In addition, the building surveyor must set out in the Certificate of Design Compliance details of any advice provided by DFES for the subject building and detail any notification given by the building surveyor to DFES under Regulation 18A(d) (i) & (ii).

For information on how and where to submit an application, please refer to the DFES Website under Regulation and Compliance - click on Publications and Guidelines, GL-07 Submission of Documents to DFES for Assessment.

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Q3. Is there any further information that is required to be sent to DFES in accordance with the amended Regulations?

Yes, in accordance with a new Regulation, 15A(2) & (3) – Provision of Information to FES Commissioner, the Permit Authority is now required to provide DFES with a copy of the Occupancy Permit for the subject building, including any permits that are modified by the Permit Authority.

In addition, Regulation 23A also requires that a Building Permit is provided to the FES Commissioner (DFES).

NOTE: DFES does not need to receive Building Permits for buildings that it does not provide advice for under Regulations 18B(2), (3) or (4) See also Q&A 4 & 5.

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Q4. Where and how should Building and Occupancy Permits be sent to DFES?

Permit information should be sent by email ONLY to permits@dfes.wa.gov.au. When submitting Permits to DFES, an email delivery receipt should be requested at the time of sending them.

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Q5. What about works that are relatively minor in nature, are fit-outs only or are projects deemed under 500m2 in floor area?

Regulation 18B(2-4) as revised now indicates a building surveyor does not have to comply with the above and submit information to DFES for Class 2-9 buildings if;
The subject building/s are stand-alone single storey structures of Class 5, 6, 7 or 8 having a total floor area of 500m2 or less or;
No Alternative Solution/s are involved in building design related to fire safety or;
The CDC is in regard to a Class 2-9 building that is being renovated or altered. Typically re-roofing or balustrading etc. and;
No Alternative Solution/s are involved in building design related to fire safety

In addition, a building surveyor does not need to submit information to DFES if the CDC is in regard to staged (forward works and the like) provided certain provisions of the BCA Volume 1 do not apply to that stage such as;
Section C – Fire Resistance
Section E – Fire fighting Equipment or;
Section E – Smoke Hazard Management
NOTE: DFES still need to receive plans and specifications for buildings of Classes 2, 3, 4 and 9 for assessment – residential occupancies (irrespective of size) and where Alternative Solutions are proposed related to fire safety. DFES advises that Schedule 4 of the Building Regulations should also be consulted, as this details certain works that do not require a building permit. Please refer to the Building Regulations 2012 (as amended) or the relevant Permit Authority for further guidance on the above.

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Q6. Who should submit information to DFES once all details of the project (including fire engineering) have been finalised?

It is appropriate that the final package of information to DFES is submitted by the building surveyor, engaged by the developer or owner to certify the project. It is the Certifier who will provide the Certificates of Design Compliance and who will have the most current information and awareness of the design and specifications for the project. In addition, the registered building surveyor is responsible for certifying that the project will meet all applicable building standards.

Note: The building surveyor (Certifier) in providing the documentation to DFES is merely required to sign the DFES form accompanying the submission. The signature is not considered by DFES as certification or confirmation that the building complies with all statutory requirements.

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Q7. What if the building surveyor (Certifier) disagrees with DFES assessment advice or comments?

As stated in Regulation 15A(1) the Certifier must provide DFES (FES Commissioner) notice in writing of any part of the DFES advice that the Certifier does not intend to follow, together with the reasons for this.

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Q8. Are there any fees or charges associated with submitting information to DFES as part of the approval process?

Currently there are no fees required in order to receive DFES comment or advice.

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Q9. Typically what should the information contain and how many copies are required to be submitted to DFES?

One set of plans only is required for DFES to assess the items it considers important to comment on and should include:

  • Site, floor, elevations and section plans – latest revision only, preliminary plans will not be accepted
  • Hydraulics plans and information - fire hydrants and sprinkler systems etc.
  • Electrical plans - fire detection and alarms including information on premises monitoring (as appropriate)
  • Any specifications appropriate to fire safety systems
  • Alternative Solution aspects of a submission
  • Other important fire safety information, e.g. the presence of dangerous goods information should be submitted together with the appropriate Electronic Lodgement Form documents. Please refer to GL-07 and GL-15 for further information on documentation required by DFES.
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Q10. What forms should be used to send information to DFES and who is expected to submit them?

An Electronic Lodgement Form is now available for formal submission of documents.

  • Fire Engineers should submit the form initially seeking fire engineered Alternative Solutions as part of the project design. This will be PRIOR to the formal submission of documents for Certificate of Design Compliance. The fire engineering company representative will submit documentation on behalf of their client to DFES initially for discussion and comment. The submission of the form allows DFES to immediately generate a dedicated premises file in order to record and deal with information submitted seeking a formal DFES response.
  • Building Certifiers should submit the form once fire engineering proposals have been completed and the Certifier is satisfied that all documentation is in sufficient detail to send to DFES before seeking a Building Permit. Or, in the case of a submission which does not rely upon Alternative Solutions (Deemed to Satisfy only) the form will result in a formal response to the Certifier with any DFES comments. 

The Electronic Lodgement Forms needs to be completed fully and accompany the latest revision of plans or other information to DFES.

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Q11. Will I be able to meet with DFES representatives to discuss details of a project?

Yes, DFES encourages Fire Engineers, Architects, Consultants and Certifiers to discuss design detail for a project prior to the submission of formal documentation to DFES including the submission of the Electronic Lodgement Form. In the first instance a BEB duty officer should be contacted by emailing bebadmin@dfes.wa.gov.au to arrange a consultation meeting.

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Q12. How long will the submission process take before comment is provided by DFES?

Regulation 18B(1) (i) states: “For the purposes of section 19(6), at least 15 business days before signing a Certificate of Design Compliance in respect of a Class 2-9 building, a building surveyor must provide to the FES Commissioner plans and specifications for the building in sufficient detail to allow assessment of compliance with the FES Commissioner’s operational requirements”

DFES encourages early dialogue with applicants to ensure that sufficient detail is presented and DFES has the opportunity to raise items for consideration, prior to formal submission by the Certifier seeking comment. This will usually be via consultation meetings. The key words to consider within the above Regulation are “at least 15 business days” as it is important DFES is given sufficient time to review plans and determine a response where particularly complex submissions are received.

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Q13. When does the 15 business day period start, to allow DFES time to assess an application?

The day after DFES has received the plans in hard copy format. DFES will then register and process the application, provided the Electronic Lodgement Form has been submitted in accordance with GL-07-Submission of Documents to DFES for Assessment see also Q&A 10.

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Q14. Can I get feedback on how an application is progressing following submission to DFES?

In the first instance, once a hard copy submission has been made, an email response will be generated by DFES BEB to the applicant acknowledging receipt of their submission. This is the only notification that an applicant will receive. The submission will be allocated to a BEB Officer who will make an assessment in accordance with Section 18B(1) of the Building Regulations.

Applicants are encouraged not to seek confirmation of progress of their submission by calling the BEB duty phone.

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Q15. What are the implications for an application for Certificate of Design Compliance (CDC) if DFES does not respond to the Building Certifier within 15 business days as stated in the Regulations?

Certification can proceed and a permit can be issued without comments being received from DFES. In advice from the Building Commission however, once DFES comments are received, the Certifier should liaise with the Permit Authority and issue a revised CDC that includes the advice provided by DFES.

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Q16. What are DFES Operational Requirements?

DFES consider these include matters relating to safety from fire that affect the likelihood of occupant (including fire fighters) injury or loss of life, and destruction of property.

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Q17. Will DFES continue to inspect buildings and test installed fire safety systems at the completion of a project to ensure installed systems meet operational needs, before an Occupancy Permit is issued?

Yes, in consultation with the Certifier and Builder it will need to be determined which projects require DFES input at completion to ensure Regulation 27 of the Building Regulations prescribing the mandatory tests are conducted in relation to Class 2-9 buildings. The Building Permit should list any necessary optional tests required for Class 2 to Class 9 buildings.

If the registered building surveyor (in conjunction with DFES) seeks particular work to be inspected, he/she may request that the Builder arranges such an inspection. DFES will monitor this aspect closely. The Permit Authority can inspect any building or structure at any time as part of its enforcement role and where issues pertain to DFES operational matters may request DFES to provide advice or recommendation in this regard. DFES will continue to work with the Building Commission, Certifiers and the fire industry to clarify aspects regarding inspections or tests of buildings further.

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Q18. How does DFES determine if a “Fire Brigade” is available to attend a building fire, in regard to BCA E1.3 - Hydrant systems?

DFES is developing a position on the matter with regard to State wide response to rural structural fires which is still in discussion phase and which is expected to provide greater clarity to the issue of what is deemed an appropriate distance of a premises from a structurally capable fire brigade able to utilise fire hydrants.

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Q19. Once a building has been granted an Occupancy Permit, what happens if issues exist that DFES were not aware of at the design stage and which remain outstanding post construction, can I occupy my building legally?

DFES advice is that the Certifier and Permit Authority must liaise closely to ensure items such as Direct Brigade Alarm (DBA) connection or similar issues are resolved before occupation of the building occurs and that appropriate steps are taken to ensure the building is brought back into compliance to satisfy BCA and other legislative requirements. The Permit Authority has powers under Part 8 of the Building Act 2011 to deal with any non-compliant building work.

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It is anticipated the Building Commission will be distributing an advisory note on ‘How to interact with DFES’ on issues that have been identified following the introduction of the new building legislation, including the amendments of 19 December 2012. DFES welcomes feedback and trusts that these FAQ’s will assist practitioners to submit documentation and to better understand DFES involvement within the approval process however for further information or to liaise with a Built Environment Branch representative please email bebadmin@dfes.wa.gov.au.

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Miscellaneous

Q.1 Does DFES’s BEB conduct fire extinguisher or evacuation training?

A. No, DFES's BEB do not conduct fire extinguisher or evacuation training. DFES advice is to contact private business professionals that provide such services. They can be located in the Yellow Pages under the headings of "Fire Protection Equipment and Consultants" or "Engineers - Consulting".

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Q.2  Does DFES’s BEB carry out building safety audits (or fire safety surveys)?

A. No, DFES's BEB do not carry out building safety audits nor fire safety surveys. DFES advice is to contact private business professionals that provide such services. They can be located in the Yellow Pages under the headings of "Fire Protection Equipment and Consultants" or "Engineers - Consulting".

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Q.3  I have been asked to provide information regarding hydraulic design / Fire engineering information. Where can I find such companies?

A. The services provided by these professionals can be found in the Yellow Pages under the headings of  “Fire Protection Equipment and Consultants” or “Engineers –Consulting”. For further information you can contact DFES’s Built Environment Branch via email bebadmin@dfes.wa.gov.au.

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Electronic Lodgement Forms

Q1. How do I lodge a submission?

To lodge a submission, select the Electronic Lodgement Submission form, complete all required detail and then select the Submit Button.

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Q2 How do I know if the Lodgement was successful?

Once you have submitted the form, you will receive a Confirmation response including an email containing a Confirmation Code.

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Q3. Can I attach documents and plans to my submission?

No, all associated hardcopy Plans and Documents are required to be mailed to the Department. Mailing details are DFES, c/- Built Environment Branch, GPO Box P1174, PERTH WA 6844 or Deliver to DFES, 20 Stockton Bend, Cockburn Central, WA 6164 

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Q4. Can I send a Lodgement form via post or email?

No, DFES requires an electronic lodgement submission from to be completed.

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Q5. When will my submission be processed?

Submissions will not be processed until hardcopy plans and documents are received.

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Q6. Are there any fees associated with a submission?

There are no fees associated with an Electronic lodgement submission..

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