Modern Buildings Have Greater Fire Risks
According to data from the FPA ( Fire Protection Association of Australia) recent tests have shown that fires in modern buildings burn at a rate eight times faster than 50 years ago. A coronial inquest into a 2012 apartment fire in Bankstown NSW prompted the NSW Coroner to recommend investigation of a fit-for-purpose, cost effective sprinkler system for Class 2 and 3 buildings. ie
- Class 2 building: A building containing 2 or more sole-occupancy units each being a separate dwelling.
- Class 3 building: A residential building, other than a building of Class 1 or 2, which is a common place of long term or transient living for a number of unrelated persons, including– (a) a boarding house, guest house, hostel, lodging house or backpackers accommodation; or (b) a residential part of a hotel or motel; or (c) a residential part of a school; or (d) accommodation for the aged, children or people with disabilities1 (e) a residential part of a health care building which accommodates members of staff; or (f) a residential part of a detention centre.
So back in 2018 the the Australian Building Codes Board developed a Regulation Impact Statement to assist with propsed changes to the NCC (National Construction Code)
Changes for the Better
A number of propsals for change were put forward, refer to the “Fire safety in new Class 2 and Class 3 residential buildings Consultation RIS”
One in particular was from the Fire & Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) funded research and testing conducted by CSIRO in conjunction with FRNSW and FPA Australia staff and members to investigate and test such systems, in the form of Technical Specifications FPAA101D and FPAA101H that was developed as a result of this research; reference existing requirements of current Australian Standards; and, require the use of listed sprinkler heads within the scope of their listing.
One of the key ways a more cost effective system was achieved was by adapting the system design to use existing water supplies in the building – either the domestic water supply or the hydrant system water supply.
Other measures were adapted such as:
- Fire Resistance – relate to passive fire protection systems that deal with the fire resistance of a building structure.
- Access and Egress – relates to means of egress from a building in an emergency including limiting the distance of travel to a place of safety, the number and dimensions of exits and their construction.
- Services and Equipment – relates to active fire safety systems including fire sprinklers, firefighting equipment, smoke hazard management systems, smoke detection and alarms, emergency lifts, emergency lighting and exit signs.
Unfortunately, fire safety measures built into legislation, standards and codes are primarily prompted by incidents home and abroad. Knowing the changes and how they affect your obligations, is critical in maintaining fire readiness and compliance, that ulitmately will provide the best protection for your occuptants and property.
Yours In Fire Safety