The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has urged building owners and managers to continue fire protection safety checks and maintenance for commercial, industrial and residential buildings during COVID-19.

ICA Head of Risk Karl Sullivan said the COVID-19 shutdowns did not remove the regulatory and insurance requirements for buildings to undergo fire protection inspections.

Fire protection professionals are reporting they are frequently being denied access to buildings due to concerns about social distancing.

“Inspections and testing are important components of a building’s risk assessment and help ensure that building occupants are protected from the risk of fires,” Sullivan said.

“They are also a requirement of many commercial and strata-title insurance policies, and failure to conduct routine fire protection service and maintenance could affect a building’s insurance coverage.”

“This is especially important at the moment, with risk profiles changing due to social distancing, business shutdowns and work-from-home arrangements.”

National Fire Industry Association CEO Wayne Smith said by failing to undertake inspections, testing and maintenance in accordance with legal requirements, businesses or property owners could leave themselves open to fines and litigation.

“We want to work with the property owners to ensure fire safety standards are met while helping to reduce risk and limit demand on emergency services at this crucial time,” Smith said.

“We understand that social distancing requirements may hamper easy access to sites but we ask building owners and managers to accommodate NFIA professionals where possible, to do the job they need to do to help protect you.”