AUST – Essential Property Services advises that the Building Code of Australia (BCA) nominates the use and installation of solid core doors in buildings classified as Class 2, 3 and 4 under Clause C3.11 of the BCA. Many clients have enquired about the use of solid core doors in these types of buildings. Solid core doors are also nominated as an essential safety measure.

Building Code of Australia

The intent of the BCA is to protect the access door and other opening into a sole-occupancy unit in Class 2, 3 or 4 buildings so as to contain a fire within that occupancy to allow other persons a reasonable time to escape and safe passage past the fire affected room. This time period for escape is necessary because occupants would usually be asleep and require a longer reaction time to become alert to the threat of fire.

The following is a partial extract of Clause C3.11 of the BCA:

C3.11 Bounding construction: Class 2, 3 and 4 buildings

(d)  Protection for a doorway required under (a), (b) or (c) must be at least—
(i)  in a building of Type A construction — a self-closing –/60/30 fire door; and
(ii)  in a building of Type B or C construction — a self-closing, tight fitting, solid core door not less than 35 mm thick.

BCA Clause C3.11: (g) (i) and (ii) address the hazard posed by non-fire rated external walls adjacent to balconies or the like which also form a necessary path of exit travel. BCA Sub-clause (g)(iii), (iv) and (v) specify the protection requirements are less onerous than full fire rated construction and it is interesting to note that windows having a sill height of 1.5m or more do not require protection. This of course allows persons to pass such openings in a stooped or crouching position under fire conditions.

Solid core doors have been used extensively around Australia in all types of buildings, before the operation of the BCA. A lot of older buildings were utilising solid core doors as life safety elements and are now being forced to upgrade their solid core doors by municipal councils and fire brigades. Upgrading is occurring because today’s community expectations for fire safety exceeds those held when these solid core doors were installed years ago. Unless approved tested seals are attached to solid core doors it must be clearly recognised that solid core doors are not smoke doors.

Australian Building Legislation Table

For an overview of each State and Territories Building Control System relative to essential safety measures maintenance requirments refer to our Australian Building Legislation Table.