What Is a Fire Safety Certificate? (Plus How to Get One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Fire safety is important because it can help prevent injury and damage to property and employees. Obtaining a certificate guarantees that the building is safe and meets the national fire safety requirements. Knowing what this entails can help you better understand the application and inspection process. In this article, we examine what the Fire Safety and Shelter Department is, explain how to get a certificate in fire safety and discuss several frequently asked questions about this topic.

What is a fire safety certificate?

If you're working in the construction or facilities management industry, you might be wondering what is a fire safety certificate is. A fire safety certificate is an important document necessary for certain buildings. The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) issues the document and certifies that the building passed the inspection and is compliant with the fire safety standards. The SCDF is responsible for firefighting and rescue operations, including the regulation of fire safety in buildings. They work with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to ensure that all buildings are compliant with fire safety regulations.

You can apply for the fire safety certificate after the building construction or renovation is complete. The certificate is usually valid for approximately one to three years, after which an office reinspects the building and issues a new certificate. The SCDF may impose conditions on the certificate, such as requiring the building owner to perform regular maintenance checks or make improvements to the fire safety features of the building.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About How Much SCDF Ranks Pay

What is the Fire Safety and Shelter Department?

The Fire Safety and Shelter Department (FSSD) is responsible for enforcing fire safety regulations and is a subdivision of the SCDF. The department also provides public education on fire safety and works with other agencies to promote fire safety in the community. The FSSD ensures that all commercial and industrial establishments have the necessary safety features in case of an emergency. This includes having strong structural support, emergency exits and firefighting provisions.

Related: How to Become a Firefighter: Education, Skills and Salary

How to get the fire safety certificate

This is a detailed step-by-step guide outlining the steps you can follow and requirements you can fulfil if you want to obtain the certificate:

1. Ensure the building is ready

The first step is to ensure that the building is complete and ready for fire safety inspection. This means that you finish all of the construction work and successfully instal all of the fire safety measures before the inspection office arrives. For example, you ensure that the building has enough fire exits and these are all clearly marked.

2. Make an application

After the building is ready, your appointed representative can make an application to the SCDF. Before getting the fire safety certificate, you can also obtain the temporary fire permit. This allows you to use the premises before you get the actual certificate.

There's usually a fee payable for the fire safety certificate application and inspection process. The amount payable typically depends on the type of building being inspected and its size. You can also engage a professional fire safety consultant to help with the application and inspection process. This is usually recommended for larger commercial buildings.

3. Prepare for the building inspection

After the relevant department finishes processing your application, they send an SCDF officer to visit the premises for an inspection. This involves checking the building for compliance with fire safety regulations. Usually, the officer also checks the fire safety features, such as the sprinkler system, to make sure that everything in the building is working properly.

Related: How to Write a Firefighter Resume Objective (With Examples)

4. Receive the certificate

Once the officer finishes conducting the necessary checks and feels satisfied that the building meets all of the fire safety requirements, they issue the certificate. The important safety requirements include:

  • having the correct fire safety signages

  • having the necessary firefighting equipment

  • having the correct number of emergency exits

  • having the correct type of fire alarm system

  • having the correct type of sprinkler system

  • ensuring that all electrical wiring is up to code

5. Display the certificate

Display the certificate prominently at the main entrance of the building so that it's clearly visible to the public. This is important because it shows that an officer from the SCDF inspected the building and found it to be compliant with fire safety regulations. Also, make sure to keep the certificate up-to-date by renewing it when it expires.

FAQs about the fire safety certificate

These are some frequently asked questions relating to the fire safety certificate:

What's the difference between a building plan and fire protection plan submission?

You can submit a building plan to the BCA for approval with projects that don't involve systematic fire safety works or issues and it's usually before construction work can commence. Meanwhile, you can submit a fire protection plan to the SCDF after the completion of a building and before you receive the fire safety certificate.

Another main difference between a building plan and fire protection plan submission is that the latter contains more detailed information about the fire safety features of the building. This includes the location of fire extinguishers, emergency exits and sprinkler systems.

What is the Building and Construction Authority?

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is a statutory board under the Ministry of National Development. The BCA is responsible for regulating the building and construction industry. They aim to promote a safe, high quality and sustainable built environment.

Related: How to Become a Construction Project Manager (With Skills)

Why is the fire safety certificate important?

The fire safety certificate is important because it demonstrates that a building meets the minimum fire safety requirements as stipulated by the SCDF. This helps to ensure that the occupants of the building are kept safe in the event of a fire. Also, buildings that don't have a valid fire safety certificate may be liable for penalties.

Who's responsible for renewing the fire safety certificate?

It's usually not the building owner themselves who can process the application. Instead, a qualified person is responsible for the application on behalf of the owner. The qualified persons are usually either architects or engineers. Generally, the qualified architects submit to the BCA and apply for the fire safety certificate, while the qualified engineers manage the FSSD submission.

Related: How to Become an Architect in 5 Steps (Plus Duties and Salary)

What's a fire safety manager?

A fire safety manager is a person who the building owner appoints to oversee the fire safety of the building. The fire safety manager is mainly responsible for ensuring that the building meets all of the fire safety requirements. They can also train other building occupants and employees on fire safety procedures. To become a fire safety manager, the person usually first attends a fire safety management course and completes the relevant assessment.

Related: 5 Tips to Managing Electrical Hazards in the Workplace

What happens if the safety measures don't satisfy the inspection officer?

During the fire safety inspection, the SCDF officer checks important elements like the fire extinguishers, emergency exits and sprinkler systems. If they find any deficiencies, they may issue a notice to the building owner requiring them to rectify the problem within a specified timeframe.

If the building owner doesn't fix the problem within the specified timeframe, then they may be liable for penalties. These penalties can range from a warning to a fine. Therefore, it's important for the owner to ensure that the building's premises meets all of the fire safety requirements before the SCDF visits for the inspection.

Is it possible to appeal against the decision of the SCDF?

Yes, it's usually possible to appeal against the decision of the SCDF. This is typically also the responsibility of the qualified person. They begin by submitting your appeal in writing within a set amount of days from the date of the SCDF's decision. When making the appeal, it's important for them to include the relevant supporting documents and evidence to substantiate your appeal. After the qualified person successfully submits the appeal and evidence, the SCDF then reviews your appeal and makes a decision within a certain time frame.

What are the consequences of not having a fire safety certificate?

The consequences of not having a fire safety certificate can be quite severe. For instance, the building owner may be liable for a heavy fine. Also, the building might get demolished or closed down. This is why it's advisable to go through the process of obtaining the certificate.

What's the difference between a fire safety certificate and a fire safety permit?

The SCDF issues the fire safety certificate after they finish inspecting the building and find that it meets the minimum fire safety requirements. Meanwhile, the SCDF issues the fire safety permit to allow certain activities that may pose a fire risk, such as the use of fireworks or the storage of flammable materials. Both are necessary for a building to be compliant with fire safety regulations, but they serve different purposes. The first is for general fire safety compliance while the latter is for specific activities that may pose a fire risk.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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