‘FSO application will not affect business’

National 3 minutes, 47 seconds

BELAIT

THE process of setting up businesses will not be slowed down, although it will take them some time to obtain the fire safety certifications required under the Fire Safety Order 2016.

Head of Fire Prevention Division Taib Hj Abd Kahar said that the most important thing for businessmen to note is to apply for the fire safety certification and informing the Fire and Rescue Department of their current situation.

The aims of having the new law, said Taib, is to facilitate the ease of doing businesses to the community, therefore the Fire and Rescue Department will allow businessmen to operate while waiting for their application to be processed.

This, he said, also goes to existing businesses, where the fire safety certifications are now required for them to operate within the country.

“If they apply today, they may start operating their businesses in the afternoon, given that they already have a place, while waiting for their applications to be completed,” he said.

However, these businesses may also be subjected to other documentation and requirements, including the Occupancy Permit issued by the Authority for Building Control and Construction Industry (ABCI), indicating their premises are adhering to the safety standards set under the authority.

The application may include existing or planned fire safety works and evacuation plans, which may then be subjected to approval or alteration by the Fire and Rescue Department if they see that the business or premises are fit for operation.

As stated in the Fire Safety Order 2016, Taib explained, operating the businesses without obtaining the certifications is considered an offence, liable to general penalties as mentioned in Section 59 of the law.

It stated that those who are guilty for an offence that has no penalty specifically expressed are liable to a fine not more than $10,000, or a jail term of not more than six months, or both.

For a continuing offence, the person will be liable to a further fine of not more than $1,000 for every day or part thereof during which the offence continues after conviction.

“But if that person did inform us, and submitted their applications, then they would not (be considered) have committed an offence,” he said.

“Operating without informing us, or without applying (for certification), or against the ones that are already approved, are considered an offence, as outlined in the Fire Safety Order 2016,” he added.

Taib explained that so far, the law may require businessmen to apply for two certifications, namely the Fire Certificate and the Fire Safety Certificate.

A Fire Certificate is given to business owners, he said, while Fire Safety Certificate are granted for owners of business premises, indicating that their businesses and buildings are in adherence to the fire safety requirements.

The requirements varied across different kinds of businesses and sizes of premises, he said, giving an example out of eateries where fireproof facilities are required in the kitchen, besides placing their gas tanks outside of their lots or buildings.

Textile businesses, he said, may also need to place a fire extinguishing facility within 15 metres of reach from persons manning the business area.

For business premises, he said the basic requirements include having a sprinkler in the building, a fire extinguisher, a fire alarm and an evacuation passage.

A Fire Marshall may also be appointed from amongst the workers in the building, who are trained to help evacuate the building in case there is fire or any emergency breakdowns.

These certifications, according to the Fire Safety Order, are only applicable to buildings that have more than 200 occupants.

Taib added that buildings that see a large number of visitors every day, including shopping malls and hotels, will also have to apply for the fire safety certifications.

“Although it does not apply to small businesses like retail stores, we will still issue to them an “acceptance letter” and will inspect the fire safety aspects of their businesses from time to time,” he said.

While the Fire Safety Order 2016 has been gazetted, it has yet to be implemented, as the government is looking to ensure that the business community understands the ins and outs of the new laws.

“So this is amongst our phases of introducing and implementing the law, and we might move on to exercising the authorities of the Fire and Rescue director on ships and vessels next year,” he said.

“So for now, we are hoping that (the business community) would be able to understand the new laws well and cooperate with us, so the new Fire Safety Order 2016 can be conveniently and efficiently enforced,” he added.

The Brunei Times