NECA Group

News & Views

20th April 2021

QBCC Introduces new fire protection and emergency lighting licensing rules

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) has introduced new fire protection and emergency lighting rules from 1 May 2021. At NECA’s recent roadshows in Queensland, we have updated members on changes to the QBCC fire protection and emergency lighting rules. What we know is that:

From 1 May 2021, the following changes impacting those who perform work within the fire protection electrical stream will commence:

  • The installation, repair, or maintenance of a battery-operated smoke alarm in a building that is a class 1a or 2 building under the Building Code of Australia will no longer be fire protection work under the QBCC Act. A QBCC licence will only be required for this work if it is otherwise building work with a value of more than $3,300.

  • Electrical mechanics who inspect, test, install or maintain (including general repair) a fire detection system or alarm system for a building will require a licence from 1 May 2021. QBCC has in place a limited licensing exemption for electrical mechanics who perform this work.  

While details of the new rules have been somewhat confusing for electrical workers, NECA has sought answers to ensure we inform members correctly. To that end, NECA recently met with the Chair of the QBCC Board to protest that these changes have been introduced without any industry consultation and to gain a better understanding of the new rules. NECA then followed up with email correspondence with the Regulatory Services Unit of the QBCC.

Today, NECA has received formal advice from the QBCC as follows:

“On 1 January 2009, occupational licensing of fire protection work was introduced in Queensland with a voluntary period of two years to enable workers to transition to the new occupational licensing framework. Extra-low voltage work on Emergency Lighting (Certify, Inspect and test) was also included as fire protection work at this time. Prior to the introduction of occupational licensing, the QBCC’s predecessor, the Queensland Building Services Authority licensed fire protection contractors and their nominees. Fire protection occupational licensing became mandatory on 1 January 2011.”

In introducing fire protection occupational licensing in 2009, the QBCC Regulation also included exemptions for licensed electrical mechanics who performed the following work:

  • install, maintain (general repair), inspect and test of a fire detection, alarm or warning system;

  • inspect and test of an emergency lighting system.

The upcoming amendments do not alter the exemptions for licensed electrical mechanics who inspect and test emergency lighting systems.

However, the licensing exemptions for fire detection, alarm and warning systems will be repealed. It is noted that there may be some minor changes to transitional provisions (and timeframes) for electrical mechanics to be licensed. The QBCC will provide further information on its website once details of any changes are confirmed”.

NECA would like members to be aware of the above advice from the QBCC, which allows licensed electrical mechanics to continue to inspect and test emergency lighting systems without the need to obtain a separate license from the QBCC.

Any further queries can be directed to Michael Horsham at