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Know Your Fire Safety Obligations on the Construction Site

Legislative Requirments

  • Performance Requirement EP1.5 and Clause E1.9
  • Part 3.1 – Identify hazards and manage risks
  • Clause 39 – Provide information, training and instruction
  • Clause 43 – Emergency Plan for workers refer to AS 3745 – 2010 Planning for Emergencies in facilities
  • Part 6 Clause 40 – enter, work and exit without risk or harm.

Australian Standards & COP’s

AS 3745-2010 – “Planning for Emergencies in Facilities” 
AS/NZ 1841 – 2007 “Portable Fire Extinguisher”
AS 2441-2005 – “Installation of Fire Hose Reels”
AS 2419.1 – 2005 “Fire Hydrant Installations”
AS 2118 – “Automatic Fire Sprinkler System”
AS 1668.1 “The use of mechanical ventilation and air-conditioning in buildings – Fire and smoke control”
AS 1670.1:2015 – “Fire detection, warning, control and intercom systems – System, design, installation and commission”
SafeWork Australia COP “Construction Work”

What Prompted Action on Changes Building Sites Fire Protection?

In Australia, there are a few fire safety systems that are required on any construction site in order to ensure the safety of workers and visitors.
Fire extinguishers, fire hose reels and fire alarm systems are just some of the requirements for a safe building site.
The need for these systems became apparent when a huge fire engulfed a construction site in Melbourne back in 2012. The blaze burned for over 24 hours, with firefighters battling the flames right through the night. The resulting damage was estimated at around $1 million. The investigation revealed that the site had not been properly prepared for the risk of fire. There were no adequate fire safety precautions, including sprinklers or fire alarms, which could have prevented this incident from escalating to such an extent.
This is why it’s important to ensure your building sites are equipped with adequate fire safety systems, especially if they reach an effective height of 12m or more.
While you might not think there would be much danger at ground level during construction work, fires can quickly spread up scaffolding to other parts of the building that are higher up. This can lead to devastating results, including severe damage to businesses or even loss of life.
The National Construction Code in the states and territories requires that a fire protection strategy is in place in order to comply with these laws.
The type of fire protection plan will depend on the type of structure being built. The fire protection plan must include:
Fire Hydrant Systems guidelines when a building under construction reaches an effective height of 12m or more required fire extinguishers are to be operational
A Fire Hydrant System is an essential part of any building under construction in Australia. It is designed to bring water to the mains water supply, typically located at ground level of new buildings, for use by fire engines if there is a fire.
Fire Hydrant Systems are considered an important part of any building’s overall fire safety strategy.
Fire Hydrant Systems designed and installed correctly can save lives and property during a fire emergency on your building site.

Fire Safety Systems

Fire Hydrant Systems
There are numerous fire safety systems on site at any construction site in Australia.
A fire hydrant system is an effective method of combating a fire. It allows firefighters to access the water they need quickly. Fire hydrants are installed on your construction site to prevent fires from spreading and causing damage to nearby buildings, the environment or nearby people.
The fire hydrant system is set up on your construction site after it reaches an effective height of 12 m.
This means that once the building under construction, or its structural members or cladding, are 12m or higher above ground level, the fire hydrant system must be operational.
This will ensure that firefighters can easily access any part of your construction site in case of emergency.

Fire Hose Reels

If you have a building under construction in Australia that is more than 12m in height then fire hose reels must be installed. This is a requirement under AS 2441-2005 “Installation of Fire Hose Reels” of this regulation states: “For buildings with an effective height greater than 12 m, the following additional requirements apply: (a) at least one fire hose reel for each stair, lift shaft and central core area of the building; and (b) fire hose reels for buildings 30 m or more in height must be located at each floor level between the ground floor and the uppermost floor level where access to the uppermost floor level is provided by a stair, lift or escalator.”
Fire Extinguisher
Fire extinguishers must be installed and kept ready for use on construction sites in Australia, and shall comply with the requirements of the Australian/New Zealand Standard 1841:2007.
During construction at least one AB(E) dry chemical powder fire extingusiher is to be provided on each storey adjacent to each exit.
Automatic Fire Sprinkler System
The Australian Standard 2118 .1 2017 requires sprinklers to be operational on a construction site for it to be considered a safe workplace.
The Building Code of Australia (BCA), which is the national standard that all states and territories must follow when they issue their own development and building control codes, doesn’t mention fire sprinklers in any of the requirements for new buildings.
Construction sites need to be safe workplaces. All employers have a duty of care for their workers, and the specific duty of care owed by an employer on a construction site is covered by the state or territory’s occupational health and safety legislation. In addition, the BCA requires builders to comply with codes issued by state and territory governments. The state and territory building codes vary in how much detail they provide.
The NSW is a little more specific than others in its requirements for fire safety systems in new buildings. It requires that: An automatic fire suppression system for protecting a building under construction from fire must be operational at all times during construction works to ensure occupational health and safety of persons on the premises.
The requirements don’t apply to renovations or additions, but there are other rules about fire protection in those cases.
Smoke Hazard Management
A building under construction is required to have smoke hazard management AS 1668.1
This is to ensure that the building’s occupants and emergency personnel are able to identify and locate fire hazards and exit routes in the event of a fire.
The following applies to all buildings under construction:
If the building has no fire alarm control panel, or it has been disconnected, you must provide a temporary manual pull station at each floor level.
The temporary pull station needs to be clearly identified. If there is no fire alarm control panel, you also need to provide a manual fire alarm system at each floor level.
The system needs to include manually activated audible alarms, strobe lights or flashing lights that emit light only.
You must also provide an emergency power supply for the alarms.
Depending on the size of the building, you may need commercial generation or utility power.
The requirements regarding smoke hazard management don’t apply if alternative measures are used that eliminate the risk of injury or death from fire or toxic smoke.
These alternative measures must comply with any applicable standards set out in relevant legislation and codes of practice for buildings under construction

A fire safety system is an essential requirement for any building under construction or development in Australia. It is crucial that you follow the correct building practices to meet fire safety regulations. To find out more about the fire safety systems on your construction site contact the experts at Complete Fire and Pumps.

Yours In Fire Safety 

Alex

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