Gaseous Fire Suppression Systems in Australia (Stage 1)
The Department commissioned Fire Protection Association Australia to produce a report which provides an overview of the gaseous fire protection industry sector in Australia.
Penalty increase for offences listed under the Ozone Act and Regulations
National licensing system for the fire protection industry sector
National regulations which support the Australian Government's Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 came into effect on 1 July 2005. The regulations affect those who buy, sell or handle ozone depleting substances or synthetic greenhouse gases.
These regulations do not restrict the use or availability of ozone depleting substances or synthetic greenhouse gas based extinguishing agents. Except for the use of halon there are no plans to restrict, prohibit or withdraw any of the currently available fire extinguishing agents.
Where there are compelling reasons to retain the use of halon an application may be made for a Halon Special Permit.
Persons who handle these substances in bulk or in equipment are required to hold a licence.
Companies or persons who acquire, possess or dispose of these substances are required to hold a Fire Extinguishing Agent Trading Authorisation.
Fire Protection Association Australia
The Fire Protection Association Australia has been appointed as the Industry Board to administer these regulations. More information regarding the new licensing system is available on the Fire Protection Industry Board (FPIB) website. Application forms for Extinguishing Agent Handling licences, Extinguishing Agent Trading Authorisations and Halon Special Permits are available from this website.
Frequently asked questions
Why is the licensing system required?
Under Australian laws to protect the environment, the use of ozone depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases is regulated. The national licensing system enables businesses and technicians to operate throughout Australia using a single licence or authorisation with one set of consistent standards.
How will these regulations affect availability of extinguishing agents?
Under current treaty obligations the import of Ozone Depleting Substances is being reduced. Over time the availability of HCFC fire extinguishing agents will reduce. It is expected that as supply of new product is restricted, the fire protection industry will source extinguishing agents from systems that are being decommissioned or from existing stockpiles. There are no plans to ban or restrict the use of controlled fire extinguishing agents.
Who needs a licence, authorisation and/or permit?
Any person who handles ozone depleting or synthetic greenhouse gas extinguishing agents listed in the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 where there is a risk of emission requires the appropriate national Extinguishing Agent Handling Licence(s). Any technicians who, for example, install or decommission systems are required to have a licence. Working with extinguishing agents in any activity where a discharge of the agent is possible as a consequence of the work being performed requires the appropriate licence and working in this way without a licence is an offence.
Any person or company involved in buying, sorting and/or selling extinguishing agents (other than halon) must hold an Extinguishing Agent Trading Authorisation.
Any person or company possessing halon, other than as provided for in Subregulation 304(4), which is for use in fire protection equipment, must hold a Halon Special Permit.
How do I apply for a licence, authorisation or permit?
Licences, Trading Authorisations and Halon Special Permits are issued by the Fire Protection Industry (ODS & SGG) Board (the Board) on behalf of the Department. As implementing agency on behalf of the department the scheme is administered by Fire Protection Association Australia (FPAA).
How do the regulations improve the performance of the industry?
The Fire Protection Industry Board is managing a competency-based licensing system to ensure that technicians in the industry have the appropriate skills to undertake the installation, maintenance and decommissioning tasks safely with minimal impact on the environment. The competencies have been developed in accordance with the National Training System.
The Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) has been amended to increase the Commonwealth penalty unit from $210 to $222 per penalty unit, effective from 1 July 2020. Penalty units apply where a person or corporation has committed a Commonwealth offence. This includes offences listed under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 (the Act) and the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995 (the Regulations).
Not holding the relevant permit
A person who imports, exports or manufactures scheduled ozone depleting substances (ODS) or synthetic greenhouse gases (SGG), including extinguishing agents (either in bulk or pre-charged into equipment) without the appropriate licence (or exemption) is committing an offence under section 13 of the Act and may be fined up to $111,000.
Under Regulation 302, it is also an offence to handle an extinguishing agent that is, or has been, for use in fire protection equipment without an extinguishing agent handling licence (EAHL) or a special circumstances exemption. A penalty of up to $2,220 may apply.
Under Regulation 303, it is an offence to acquire, possess or dispose of bulk extinguishing agent without an Extinguishing Agent Trading Authorisation (EATA) (note Regulation 303 describes some circumstances where an EATA may not be required). A penalty of up to $2,220 may apply.
Under Regulation 304, it is an offence to possess halon that is, or has been, for use in fire protection equipment without a halon special permit (note Regulation 304 describes some circumstances where a halon special permit may not be required). A penalty of up to $2,220 may apply.
Unlawful discharge of scheduled extinguishing agents
It is an offence under section 45B(1) of the Act to act in a way that results in the unlawful discharge of ozone depleting substances (ODS) and synthetic greenhouse gases (SGG), including scheduled extinguishing agents. A penalty of up to $66,600 for an individual or up to $333,000 for a corporation may apply.
Effects of breaches on gaining future permits
Under Regulation 314, an individual or corporation who is convicted of an offence under the Act or Regulations, or who has had a permit or licence cancelled, may be considered unfit to hold a fire protection industry permit or licence. As a result, their permit or licence may be refused on reapplication or, in accordance with Regulation 315, their permit or licence may be cancelled.
Application fees for extinguishing agent handling licences, trading authorisations and halon special permits
The Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995 (Regulation 346) provides for the annual indexation of permit application fees.
Consistent with the WPI figures for the September 2020 quarter, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the fire protection industry permit application fees will increase by 1.354% from 1 January 2021. The following table shows the permit fees and durations for 2020 and 2021.
|Permit type||Duration||2020 Application fees||2021 Application fees|
|Extinguishing Agent Handling Licence – Qualified Persons||1 year||$146||$148|
|Extinguishing Agent Handling Licence – Experienced Persons||1 year||$146||$148|
|Extinguishing Agent Trainee Licence||1 year||$146||$148|
|Extinguishing Agent Trading Authorisation||1 year||$245||$248|
|Halon Special Permit||1 year||$292||$296|
The Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas program is administered on a cost-recovery basis, with application fee amounts intended to address the costs incurred by the department in administering the permit scheme. The fees are adjusted annually consistent with the wage price index, to ensure they remain in line with general cost increases across the program and broader economy.