ESM-03

Fire Rated Wiring and Building Alterations

AUST  Hendry advises building owners and property professionals of the need to ensure that their consultants, contractors or tenants’ contractors know when ‘fire-rated wiring’ is installed.

This problem seems to arise when a tenant instigates a new fit out and finds out the existing cabling does not comply, usually without obtaining a building permit.  A request for the building owner to upgrade the non-compliant cabling at their cost  is then made, causing all stakeholders to study the lease conditions, sometimes heading into a legal confrontation.

A number of tenants can experience significant inconvenience through contractors installing incorrect cabling for essential safety measure items, when rewiring has had to occur in adjoining tenancy areas that are not associated with the tenant undertaking the works.

Fire rated cables are designed to continue functioning during a fire for a specified period of time. This allows for the safe fire evacuation of a building through the cabling’s ability to support essential safety measures such as smoke control measures, emergency lighting, occupant warning systems/SSIS systems and so forth. In essence, fire rated cables are required to be able to burn in a manner that ensures continuity of power to essential safety measures during a fire.

Fire rated cables do not work alone.  AS/NZS 3013-2005 ‘Electrical installations – Classification of the fire and mechanical performance of wiring elements’, requires that all items comprising a fire rated cabling system operating in the fire rated zone must be assessed and passed as a system. In other words, contractors must ensure other ancillary components that may be used in the installation, including stopping methods, fasteners, saddlers, ladders, and cable trays also comply with the standard, and would be incorporated into the essential safety measures.

Some examples for fire rated wiring in new or altered works are:

  • Switchboards sustaining emergency equipment
  • Smoke control equipment
  • Motorised fire damper
  • Fire indicator panels
  • Central battery emergency lighting systems
  • Emergency warning systems
  • Fire pumps
  • Essential electricity mains

Note: All the above are essential safety measures.

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