National Construction Code

Proposed changes to fire safety in Class 2 and Class 3 buildings for NCC 2019

Image of fire sprinkler on office ceiling

The proposed changes to fire safety for Class 2 and Class 3 buildings for NCC 2019 are now available for public review and comment, through the NCC 2019 Public Comment Draft released on 8 February 2018.

What’s it all about?

The ABCB is proposing to improve the fire safety for mid-rise Class 2 and Class 3 buildings in NCC 2019. The proposed changes were championed by the fire authorities and the fire industry in response to a NSW coronial inquest following a fatality and injuries caused by a fire in an apartment block in Bankstown in 2012.

So what’s in NCC 2019 for fire safety in Class 2 and 3 buildings?

The proposed changes included in the Deemed-to-Satisfy (DTS) Provisions of Volume One of the NCC 2019 Public Comment Draft involve sprinkler protection for Class 2 (apartment buildings) and 3 buildings (hotel and dormitory style accommodation) over 3 storeys and under 25m in effective height with associated fire safety offsets as outlined below.  The aim of the project is to increase life safety without adversely impacting the cost of construction.

Two new sprinkler specifications were developed by the Fire Protection Association Australia (FPAA) as alternative options to the current AS 2118 automatic fire sprinkler systems. One of the new specifications relies on connection to the domestic supply while the other involves connection to the hydrant supply. Both of these systems offer installation cost savings when compared to the AS 2118 systems.

The offsets include reducing the Fire Resistance Level of non-loadbearing walls around fire-isolated stairs from -/90/90 down to -/60/60; increasing the distance of travel to an exit or choice of exits from 6m to 12m; increasing the distance of travel to a single exit from 20m to 30m at egress level; increasing the maximum distance between alternative exits from 45m to 60m; and permitting external or ‘dry’ hydrant risers instead of ‘wet’ risers. The offsets would not apply to Class 3 residential care facilities as these buildings are already required by the NCC DTS Provisions to be sprinkler protected. Even with these offsets, a sprinkler protected building will provide an increased level of fire life safety for occupants.

A significant benefit associated with the installation of sprinkler systems in mid-rise Class 2 and Class 3 buildings is the improved levels of life safety for the aged, young children, those with hearing impairments and those affected by alcohol. These groups are often not alerted to the presence of fire by alarms systems. Sprinklers provide the benefit of protecting those in the area of fire origin.

How can I provide comments on the NCC 2019 Public Comment Draft or the RIS?

The consultation period closed Friday, 13 April 2018. Thank you for your feedback.

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