Fire Indices for Materials

Essential Property Services clients (and building owners) are continually frustrated by tenants who alter their tenancy (fire indices for materials) without advising the building owner or property manager of proposed building works. The alterations to partitions and other works require a building approval/ building permit under the building regulations to be issued which will incorporate fire indices for materials/ fire hazard properties in an essential safety measures schedule/ determination. In a lot of cases, tenants do not obtain the necessary building approvals from the building surveyor/ building certifier.

Essential Safety Measure Inspection – Fire Indices for Materials

During an essential essential safety measures inspection, it is incumbent on the assessor (auditor) to ensure fire safety compliance to be aware of any new materials that have been applied to structural elements in the building they must comply with fire indices for materials/ fire hazard properties requirements. During the building approval process the building surveyor would ensure that material finishes attached to structural elements of the building comply with fire indices for materials requirements and do not present an excessive fire hazard to the structure and to limit the spread of fire along the structural elements.

Building Code of Australia

The building surveyor before issuing a building approval will ensure that all materials fire hazard properties (fire indices for materials/ fire hazard properties) comply with the Building Code of Australia C1.10 Fire Hazard Properties and Specification C1.10 and C1.10a.

The following illustration depicts the fire indices for materials (fire hazard properties) for roof lights.

Specification C1.10 and C1.10a are a means of satisfying the performance requirements of the BCA. In other words it is up to the relevant building surveyor to decide whether any proposed deviations from the fire hazard indices (fire indices for materials) set out in the specification would still be acceptable. If the building surveyor will not accept the variation, the matter may be referred to the relevant state Building Appeals Board for determination.

Fire indices for materials/ fire hazard properties are not readily available for all materials and it is therefore necessary that material manufacturers have their products tested in accordance with Specification A2.4. A lot of manufacturers list their fire indices for materials on their websites.

Generally there are two sets of requirements in Specification C1.10. One relates to the limitation on the use of materials (fire indices for materials) in fire-isolated stairways, passageways and ramps and the other relates to the remainder of the building. The former requirements are obviously the most stringent as it should not be possible for a fire to occur or to spread in a fire-isolated exit.

The following is a part extract of clause I1.1 for an Essential Safety Measure (as appeared in BCA 2013) known as fire indices for materials and assemblies required to have fire hazard properties:

Table I1.6 SAFETY MEASURES – BUILDING FIRE INTEGRITY

Safety Measures BCA Provision for Determining Standard of Performance
Materials and assemblies required to have fire hazard properties C1.10

Furniture has No Fire Indices for Materials

Whilst clause C1.10 pays attention to attachments directly in contact with the structure of a building (i.e. complying with fire indices for materials and alternatively nominated as an essential safety measures), some doubt could be raised as to the effectiveness in reducing the effect of fire on the building structure in respect that there is no control which can be enforced to limit the contents which can be stored or used within a building, hence little control on the potential fire load. Many types of furniture burn quickly and give off toxic fumes and smoke which don’t comply with ‘fire indices for materials’ regulations.

Existing Buildings – Fire Indices for Materials

House rules should be in place by the building owner or property manager in a tenants lease. It should be obligatory to show proof that any materials incorporated in the building during alterations are complying with Clause C1.10 (fire indices for materials/ fire hazard properties) of the BCA and where required obtain the necessary statutory building approvals.

Essential Safety Measures Audit – Fire Indices for Materials

Most building regulators across Australia require the essential safety measures known as “fire indices for materials” or ‘fire hazard properties’ to be inspected within a building at least once a year taking into account an occupancy permit, essential safety measure schedule or determination, schedule of essential safety provisions and reported in the essential safety measure logbook to allow signing of the Annual Statement, Annual Certificate of Compliance, Annual Fire Safety Statement, Annual Maintenance Statement and Annual Occupiers Statement.