ESM - The Facts

What are my responsibilities? 

Councils have responsibility under the Building Act 1993 for the enforcement of building safety within their municipality.

The municipal building surveyor or chief officer of the relevant fire authority is responsible for the enforcement of the maintenance provisions of the Regulations.

Building occupiers have an obligation to ensure all exits and paths of travel to exits are kept readily accessible, functional and clear of obstructions.

Building owners must ensure that an essential safety measure is maintained so that it operates satisfactorily.

Building owners must prepare an annual essential safety measures report on the buildings essential safety measures. They may authorise an agent, such as a specialist maintenance contractor, to complete the report. The annual essential safety measures report is to be in accordance with the approved form (Appendix A of the Essential Safety Measures Maintenance Manual).

The owner must also keep records of maintenance checks, safety measures and repair work so a municipal building surveyor or chief officer of the fire brigade can inspect them. These documents must be made available to the municipal building surveyor or the chief officer on request after 24 hours' notice has been given. Annual essential safety measure reports and records of maintenance checks, safety measure and repair work must be made available for inspection on request after 24 hours' notice has been given.

If building work is proposed to alter an existing building it may have an effect on essential safety measures, so it is worth checking with a municipal building surveyor or private building surveyor to see what needs to be done to comply with the Act and the Regulations.

Buildings built before 1 July 1994

If the building was built before 1 July 1994, the owner is responsible for ensuring that any safety equipment, safety fittings or safety measures are maintained and fulfilling their purpose. This includes exits and paths of travel to exits.

Buildings constructed or altered since 1 July 1994

If the building was constructed or altered since 1 July 1994, the list of essential safety measures, including their performance level, frequency and type of maintenance required would be included with the occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection.

The owners of all Class 9 buildings, and Class 2 to 8 buildings constructed or altered since 1 July 1994, must have a current copy of the building's occupancy permit on display in the building. These can be framed, placed in a sealed, transparent or glass covered notice board or for multiple pages, the pages may be laminated so they can be suspended or fixed in a prominent position in the building as approved by the building surveyor.

Adequate maintenance is the best means of ensuring that fire safety systems will operate reliably if an emergency arises. Through meeting these requirements the owner will have greater knowledge of the safety and condition of their building.