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Key Changes in Fire Safety for NCC 2022

Fire-safety measures in the National Construction Code will be strengthened in 2023.

A National Construction Code (NCC) is the legislation that regulates construction and establishes minimum requirements for buildings and structures in Australia. From time to time the NCC must be amended to ensure it meets with modern-day requirements, especially when related to building code compliance and occupational health, safety, and welfare.

Key Changes in Fire Safety for NCC 2022 

To be adopted by States and Territories from 1 May 2023.

“Until 1 May 2023, NCC 2019 Amendment 1 is still in force.”

This article was drawn from the ABCB website 

1. Early childhood centres in high-rise buildings (Volume One)

New, additional requirements are included for early childhood centres (ECCs). The changes better accommodate potential emergency evacuation challenges in ECCs.

The key changes are found in:

  • A6G1 Building classification (2019: A6.1), which makes ECC exempt from the 10% rule. This removes the risk of them not being classified as 9b if located on a large floor plate of another building classification.
  • Part C3 (2019: Part C2) Compartmentation and separation, which aims to mitigate the fire risks and provide safe refuges during evacuation.
  • Part D2 (2019: Part D1) Provision for escape, which aims to ensure staff can perform evacuations as efficiently as possible.
  • Part D3 (2019: D2) Construction of exits, which aims to ensure exits, and pathways to exits are constructed to suit occupants of an ECC.
  • Part E1 Fire fighting equipment: Sprinklers are now required throughout an early childhood centre, unless it has direct egress to a road or open space, or is the only occupancy in a building no higher than two storeys.
  • Part E2 Smoke hazard management, and Specification 17 (2019: Specification E1.5), which enables early warning of occupants in an ECC or anywhere in a building which has an ECC within.

2. Primary schools in high-rise buildings (Volume One)

D2D23 (2019: D1.18) now applies to primary schools located in high-rise buildings, where the school does not have direct egress to a road or open space.

This means a Performance Solution must be used for egress from primary schools if D2D23 does not apply. There is an exemption for primary schools in a building of 4 storeys or less, if they are the only occupancy in that building.

This change accounts for the challenges these primary schools can experience in emergency evacuations.

3. External wall combustibility (Volume One)

There are minor changes to Section C Fire resistance, including:

  • further concessions for minor, non-combustible building elements and other suitable materials where a non-combustible material is required
  • clarifications for ancillary elements
  • a new requirement for mechanical fixing of bonded, laminated external cladding.

4. Changes to bushfire prone areas (Volumes One and Two)

There is a new requirement and DTS Provisions for certain Class 9 buildings in bushfire prone areas (G5P2).

5. Fire detection and early warning (Volume Two)

Performance Requirement H3P2 (2019: P2.3.2) is quantified. The metric of efficacy and reliability provides flexibility in approaches and is familiar to practitioners.

6. Flow rate and pressure in fire-fighting water services (Volume Three)

Performance Requirements B4P1 to B4P4 (2019: BP4.1) associated with fire-fighting services is quantified and sets a nominated level of system performance.

As mentioned above, the National Construction Code has been amended to ensure the safety of new builds and those being retrofitted is guaranteed. The changes have been made so that buildings can more effectively withstand fire for longer periods, which will hopefully limit future loss of property and loss of life. These changes are certainly an improvement, but there is still a long way to go before the full potential of these codes is realised.

If you have any questions or need clarification regarding the above article please contact one of our NCC specialists.

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