Fire Rated Building Elements

Building surveyors/ building certifiers around Australia issue building approvals, construction certificates and building permits based on their states building regulations and the Building Code of Australia (BCA) on a daily basis. Except for houses and outbuildings, all of these approval documents will contain essential safety measures and the majority of buildings will also have fire rated building elements (fire protective coverings) nominated as an essential safety measure.

For an element in a building to be nominated as an essential safety measure as fire rated building elements, it must be fire rated. The BCA does not use the term fire rated but uses ‘fire-resisting’. The term fire resisting is a defined term in the BCA and is a Referenced Standard used to ensure the building is adequately fire protected. Some examples of fire rated building elements are fire-isolated lift shafts, fire-isolated passageways, fire-isolated ramps and fire-isolated stairs; many other fire rated elements are deemed to be fire rated building elements.

Building Code of Australia

The Building Code of Australia Part A1 Interpretation, Clause A1.1 Definitions, defines ‘fire-resistance level’ and ‘fire-resisting’. Together they allow a building surveyor and the BCA to use the term fire rated building elements, part extract follows:

PART A1
INTERPRETATION

A1.1 Definitions

Fire-resistance level (FRL) means the grading periods in minutes determined in accordance with Specification A2.3, for the following criteria- and expressed in that order.

(a) structural adequacy; and
(b) integrity; and
(c) insulation,

Note:
A dash means that there is no requirement for that criterion. For example, 90/-/- means there is no requirement for an FRL for integrity and insulation, and -/-/- means there is no requirement for an FRL.

Fire-resisting, applied to a building element, means having an FRL appropriate for that element.
Fire-resisting construction means one of the Types of construction referred to in Part C1.

The following illustration depicts an operational flow chart forfire rated building elements of Part C1.

The following is a part extract from clause I1.1 for an Essential Safety Measure (as appeared in BCA 2013) known as fire rated building elements:

Table I1.1 Safety Measures – Building Fire Integrity

Safety Measures BCA Provision for Determining Standard of Performance
Building elements required to satisfy prescribed fire-resistance levels
(fire rated building elements)
Section C
D1.12

Building surveyors issue essential safety measure schedules/ schedule of essential safety provisions based on their own state building legislation. Table I1.1 Safety measures contains a comprehensive list of essential safety measures which includes fire rated building elements. The building surveyor uses this Table as well as local considerations under their own Building Act when including fire rated building elements.

Essential Safety Measures Audit – Fire Rated Building Elements

Building surveyors/ certifiers who issue the building approval documentation must also issue the necessary essential safety measures schedules, lists, determinations, occupation certificate, certificate of occupancy, certificate of classification and certificate of construction compliance. These documents will nominate when necessary ‘fire rated building elements’ as an essential safety measure, that is any building element requiring a fire-resistance level (FRL) e.g. floors, walls, columns, beams, bracings, ceilings, roofs, shafts, tunnels etc. will all be fire rated building elements.
An essential safety measures auditor for fire safety compliance must understand and be aware of the implications of all building elements in a building that require a FRL, which are nominated as fire rated building elements. Not all are obvious, and not all are specifically nominated in the essential safety measures schedule. All non-compliant fire rated building elements should be nominated in the essential safety measures logbook to allow signing of the Annual Statement, Annual Certificate of Compliance, Annual Fire Safety Statement, Annual Maintenance Statement and Annual Occupiers Statement.