April 26

Certificate 4 Update

Since May 2021 Building Certifiers in Queensland must exercise extra diligence for checks to ensure that individuals are competent for signing-off Form 71 and Form 12 for fire hydrant and fire sprinkler installations.

Historically licensed trades persons with a demonstrated industry experience would complete further study to obtain a Certificate 4.   That was only qualified and experienced tradesperson could obtain and hold a Certificate 4.

In May 2022 the Department of Housing and Public [DHPW] rammed through a policy that was strongly influenced by large national fire service companies that allowed individuals with only a cursory understanding of Building Fire Safety to obtain a Certificate 4 in Fire Asset Maintenance.  The Services Trades College funded by Qld government and the large national fire company handed out Certificate 4 to anybody who could provide a letter stating they had worked for a Fire Services / Installation protection company and who completed 16 hours of training and submitted assessments online. That ‘industry experience’ can be somebody who was the fire services company forklift driver or painted recycled fire extinguishers.  There was scant industry review or consultation by the DHPW. The DHPW then dumped this policy onto the QBCC for implementation.  Subsequently the QBCC issued individuals with no trade or tertiary qualifications licenses to certify newly installed fire systems in buildings. These are fire safety systems provided for occupant for life safety, fire brigade intervention and life safety and asset protection.

Historically we have had a process in Qld were a fire or hydraulic engineer would design specify, design and document fire systems for a building. The fire or hydraulic engineer would also certify their design was code compliant by signing a Certificate 15. The building certifier would then review the design and seek approval from the QFES. The installer then installed the system as designed. The installer then engages a person to test, inspect and certify the fire safety system as an expert providing advice to the building certifier as to if the building’s fire safety system is NCC code complaint for the building to be occupied.

Since the DHPW and the QBCC have adopted these policies we now have individuals who have never installed one metre of pipe, cut in a TEE to and existing line, selected, or screwed in a sprinkler head, never torqued up a flange or had any fault diagnosis or design experience operating with Certificate 4. These individuals are now ‘certifying’ wet fire systems.

We now have a flawed system where a large fire company can design a ‘complaint’ wet fire system often with their employee issuing the Design Certification 15. The large fire or plumbing company then installed the system and engages an individual who only holds a Certificate 4 to provide the Buildings Form 71 and Form 12.   

Is that adequate for Building Certification?