Building fire safety plays an important role in preventing and mitigating losses incurred due to fires. The Building Code of Australia (BCA) requires buildings to meet minimum fire safety standards. The fire safety obligations which a building is required to achieve depend largely on the buildings classification and size.
Residential buildings don’t have as many fire safety requirements when compared to industrial, commercial or farm buildings. The main issues with residential buildings relate to fire separation. No fire rating is required in the following situations:
Dwellings should be 900mm from the allotment boundary
Garages between dwellings and the allotment boundary be 900mm from either the boundary or dwelling
If your proposed structure doesn’t meet these requirements please contact your architect, builder, Council or building surveyor to discuss possible solutions.
Open carports and verandahs positioned between the dwelling and the allotment boundary which span <2m require further consideration. Please contact your architect, builder, Council or building surveyor to discuss.
Depending on your individual situation you may be obliged to conform to other fire safety requirements. However, your architect, builder, Council or building surveyor will be able to advise if other requirements apply.
Industrial and Commercial Buildings
Industrial and Commercial buildings require a higher level of fire safety and access compared to residential buildings due to being used by the general public. Appropriate consideration must be given to access for the public and staff including people with disabilities. The ease, speed and safety of people exiting the building in the event of a fire or an emergency should be considered.
The BCA Volume 1 outlines all the areas that need to be covered when lodging an application with the Council. The fire safety aspect of the BCA is best dealt with by a consultant who specialises in fire safety especially for buildings over 500m2.
Your architect, builder, Council or building surveyor can provide an in-depth explanation of the fire safety requirements set out by the BCA. However, the following points summarise the main fire safety areas that need to be considered when lodging an application for an industrial or commercial building.
Exit signs over all required exits and Emergency Lighting where floor area >300m2.
Fire extinguishers in accordance with the risk
Escape latches on doors to all required exits
Fire Hose Reels where floor area >500m2
Fire Hydrants where floor area >500m2
Water supply if no reticulated water onsite storage required
Fire Hazards a list of materials to be stored/used on site
- Egress from the building.
Similarly to commercial or industrial buildings, farm buildings have additional fire safety requirements compared to residential buildings.
The BCA Volume 1 outlines all the areas that need to be covered when lodging an application with the Council. The fire safety aspect of the BCA is best dealt with by a consultant who specialises in fire safety.
The Minister’s Specification SA H3.2 provides concessions for farm buildings, including:
Concessions for hydrants, including-
- Reductions in the amount of water required
- Extended distance from hydrant to building – resulting in less trenches and pipes for hydrants
- Pump sets not required
- Allowance for tanks with fire service connections to be used instead of hydrants
- Hydrant ring mains not required
Fire hose reels
Portable fire extinguishers – wash down hoses or similar can be used instead of portable fire extinguishers for combustible material fires
Longer distance of travel to an exit, and the maximum distance between exits – meaning less exit doors are required
Allowing the use of platforms and ladders in paths of travel to exits
Concessions for emergency lighting
Exit signs don’t have to be illuminated if illuminated exit signs would affect the behaviour or welfare of animals being kept in the building
The farmers shed – in cases where a farmers shed or implement shed is classified as a Class 7 or 8 building, significant concessions are provided.
To obtain further information or to discuss your specific circumstances, please contact our office ph (08) 8828 1200 option 3.