Until recently there has been a grace period for buildings and facilities missing fire security authorisation (autorizație de securitate la incendiu). Since this grace period expired at the end of September, serious penalties can now be applied with immediate effect.
The owner or the operator of the facility (i.e. either the premises owner or the company leasing the building) is obliged to request and obtain fire security authorisation.
The Bucharest club Colectiv was running without fire security authorisation; a disastrous fire in 2015 resulted in the deaths of around 60 people with many more injured. In the two years since the catastrophe, the Romanian Government has been keen to find solutions for putting in place stringent fire security regulations.
As throughout the country, extremely many buildings that should have been operating with fire security authorisation had none, after the Colectiv fire the government sought to take proportionate measures .These included a transition period (termen de grație) that came into force in March 2016: during this period owners or operators of buildings and facilities with no fire security authorisation were not punished, being, however, legally bound to request and obtain a fire security authorisation within the grace period. The expiry date was extended several times, but 30th September 2017 the transition period finally ended.
Since then, investors having no fire security authorisation for their buildings or facilities have run the risk of being heavily fined if the Romanian General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (ISU – Inspectoratul pentru Situaţii de Urgenţă) carries out an inspection.
The obligation to obtain a fire security authorisation
According to the provisions of the law on fire prevention2, bringing into service any new or renovated buildings (including change of use) is possible only after obtaining a fire security authorisation.
Penalties for the use of buildings without a fire security authorisation
If an owner or operator is found to have put into service a new or renovated building without obtaining a fire security authorisation, fines between 20,000 – 50,000 RON (€4,500 – €11,000) may be applied. As of 1st October, these fines will be imposed by the Romanian ISU (apart from exceptions described below).
If the ISU determines serious fire regulation infringements, it can close down the building whether or not a fire security authorisation is in place.
As of 1st October 2017, the law states that investors will be exempt from penalties for not having fire security authorisation in the following situations:
- documentation for obtaining the fire security authorisation was submitted to the Romanian ISU before 30th September 2017; or
- financing projects for the investment are in the approval phase. Further details regarding such projects and the applicability of this exception are not regulated by the law
However, these exemptions only apply until 31st December 2017 by which time fire security authorisation must be in place.
According to the Romanian ISU, in 2017 3,643 fire security approvals (aviz de securitate la incendiu) – a preliminary stage towards authorisation) and 2,086 fire security authorisations have been granted; many others are in the grant approval phase (ie documentation has been submitted). The inspectors of the ISU have proved to be very active, and building checks have resulted in 9,520 fines.
Expect more building inspections. Investors that have not at least applied for fire security authorisation must be prepared for fines for breach of the fire protection regulations.
No-one could argue that the purpose of these new legal provisions is to decrease infringements of the fire regulations and avoid such catastrophes as the Colectiv fire in 2015.