Managing the risks of fire to the lives of those who live, work, learn and play in Australian buildings is one of the most important aspects of the National Construction Code (NCC).

However, achieving an appropriate level of safety is not as simple as adding smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, although these do play a role.

Ensuring an appropriate level of risk reduction involves multiple factors including materials, structural design, addressing heat and smoke movement through a buildingand safe emergency egress routes for occupants.

Due to the complex interaction of factors that contribute to fire safety, there are provisions in both Volumes One and Two of the NCC, which mean architects, building designers and others need to have a thorough and current understanding of this significant topic.

Our NCC continuing professional development (CPD) course on fire safety equips design and construction practitioners with a thorough introduction to the relevant provisions. This includes a detailed exploration of the 15 critical factors and 25 main Performance Requirements to be addressed when developing a fire safety design.

Critical factors include the function or use of the building, relevant fire hazards, the height of the building, floor areas, evacuation time, fire load, potential fire intensity, active fire systems, occupant characteristics (e.g. mobility), travel distances, fire safety systems, fire brigade intervention, proximity to other properties, whether exits are below or above ground and other factors.

All of these play a role in determining a compliant fire safety design. For example, a design for a residential care building may need to consider residents with limited mobility when designing safe exits. A commercial building with open floorplates may need to incorporate specific measures for fire compartments.

With 25 main Performance Requirements and 15 critical factors, the course illustrates the importance of taking a holistic approach to achieve compliant fire safety designs. The course covers both Deemed-to-Satisfy (DTS) Solutions and the development of Performance Solutions. It also explains the Fire Safety Verification Method (FSVM) and how to develop a Performance-based Design Brief (PBDB) for fire safety design.