Understanding the Impact of AS 1851-2012 on Water Tank Inspection and Maintenance

Building safety measures, such as fire protection systems and equipment, must be tested, serviced, and maintained to ensure that they function as intended when needed. AS 1851 is the Australian Standard for routine servicing of fire protection systems and equipment, and most building owners are required to comply with AS 1851-2005 or the most recent version of the Standard, AS 1851-2012.

To comply with Australian regulations, you must inspect all of your firewater tanks on a regular basis. In addition, maintenance should adhere to AS1851-2012.


The Standard structure has been simplified to make it easier for stakeholders to understand.

Reporting documentation requirements have been restructured (logbooks, tags, labels & summary records).

A clearer distinction between initial installation, routine service, and annual regulatory compliance.

As the Standard establishes a systematic basis for minimum routine service activities, it can be used to develop specific routine servicing regimes. The Standard requires documentary evidence in the form of records and reports, with the documentary evidence designed to assist responsible entities in meeting regulatory obligations.


Each Australian State and Territory Government is currently responsible for establishing the requirements for the servicing of fire protection systems and equipment for buildings and land under their control, as well as privately owned buildings and land. The Federal Government is responsible for Commonwealth land and buildings, regardless of whether they are located in a State or Territory.

This control is established by each state or territory through an Act of Parliament (Act), which is their primary form of legislation. These Acts, in turn, can authorize the creation of Regulations to implement the Act. Simply put, the Act establishes the principles and goals for compliance, while the Regulations detail how these goals are to be met.

Regulations, in turn, can make full, partial, or modified references to external documents such as Codes or Standards. This allows documents such as the National Construction Code (Australian Building Code) and Australian Standards to become part of the regulatory regime of State or Territory governments.

An Act may “refer” to Regulations, which may “refer” to Codes or Standards. When Regulations, Codes, or Standards are referenced (or partially referenced), there is a legal obligation to follow the provisions or those that are referenced. Codes and Standards are not mandatory unless specifically referenced. This is commonly referred to as the legislative hierarchy.

Because each state and territory has its own legislative and regulatory framework governing safety measures (of which Fire Protection Systems and Equipment are a part), each state and territory has its own terminology.


Based on the primary legislation in your jurisdiction, the following provides a summary of your local adoption and use of AS 1851-2012. Note: This is only general information; for complete details, contact the relevant regulatory authority in your state or territory.

The ease with which the States and Territories formally adopt AS 1851-2012 will be critical to its success. For the time being, Tasmania, Queensland, and South Australia are leading the way, and only time will tell if this Standard is accepted across the country. The property industry loses millions of dollars each year due to jurisdictional differences in the adoption and implementation of regulatory compliance regimes, and national harmonisation in regulatory compliance is long overdue.

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