AUST – HENDRY building surveyors advise that the Building Code of Australia in Clause E2.2 ‘General Requirements’ establishes the requirements under the BCA for smoke hazard management and sets out other general provisions. As a guide for building surveyors when faced with performance based designs it would be reasonable to accept minor departures from the deemed-to-satisfy provisions (for instance the variation of sprinkler or smoke detector head spacings) by using the performance Clauses EP2.1 and EP2.2 in Part E2.

Building Code of Australia Clause E2.2 General Requirements

Where a design involves a complete departure from the deemed-to-satisfy provisions of Building Code of Australia Table E2.2a, General Provisions, expert assistance should be obtained to assess compliance with the performance criteria.

Class 2 to 9 buildings under the Building Code of Australia must comply with E2.2(b), (c) and (d), which cover the fire mode operation of air-handling systems in order to maintain the basic integrity of the fire compartments.

In addition to E2.2(b), (c) and (d), Building Code of Australia Class 2 to Class 9 buildings must comply with the requirements of Table E2.2a, which provides some general and specific strategies for smoke hazard management.

The following illustration from BCA Illustrated depicts the requirements for smoke hazard management in a building over 25 metres high with multiple uses. Please note no ‘Issue’ and ‘Explanation’ is included.

E2.2(b) requires an air-handling system which is not part of a smoke hazard management system to be designed and installed with suitable strategies to ensure that, in the event of fire, it does not:

  • Recycle air from one fire compartment to another; or
  • Otherwise contribute to the spread of smoke between fire compartments.

In a fire, an air-handling system which is not part of a smoke hazard management system must either shut down or operate as a smoke control system in accordance with AS/NZS 1668.1-1998 ‘The use of ventilation and air-conditioning in buildings – Fire and Smoke control in multi-compartment buildings’.

Where the air-handling system is shut down in fire mode, it must incorporate automatic smoke dampers where the ducts penetrate any fire barriers.

The use of a purging arrangement of smoke control, in accordance with AS/NZS 1668.1, is allowable in buildings which are not covered by the general provisions in BCA Table E2.2a, and in some instances in conjunction with other measures in accordance with Table E2.2a.

Any air-handling systems which serve more than one fire compartment and can be covered by Clause 7 of AS1668.1 must be designed and installed in compliance with that section of the Australian Standard, except where the system serves a carpark. This approach is intended to minimise the spread of smoke between fire compartments.

Note that provisions on the operation of carpark ventilation system in the event of a fire in the carpark, are included under the general provisions in Building Code of Australia Table E2.2a.

An AS/NZS 1668.1 system for zoned smoke control and automatic air pressurisations for fire-isolated exits must be controlled by a smoke detection system installed in compliance with Clause 5 of Building Code of Australia Specification E2.2a Smoke Detection and Alarm Systems.

Building Legislation Table

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Fire Safety Compliance: Essential Safety Measures

Refer to our Essential Safety Measures Identification table for further information on individual Essential Safety Measures including the Annual Statement.

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