AUST – Essential Property Services advises that Building owners, building managers and sub-contractors need to be aware that essential safety measures known as fire and smoke resistant structures (walls and ceilings) play a critical part in building occupant fire safety. Essential safety measures regulations have recognised this fact by strengthening the Regulation’s relative to fire stopping, over the years.

Substantial essential safety measures statutory penalties under most State regulations, apply to building owners and occupiers that knowingly allow any inadequately sealed penetration in fire rated structures or breaches in fire and smoke resisting structures to exist by not providing adequate fire stopping. Equally severe penalties exist for simply chocking open fire and smoke resisting doors in a fire isolated stairwell or passageway. To comply with the provisions of the Regulations and AS 1851-2005 – ‘Maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment’, Part 17, all building service penetrations through fire and smoke resisting structures should be inspected regularly for fire stopping, depending on the state. Where inadequately sealed services penetrations or breaches are found they must be rectified in a prescribed time frame.

Over the years many people have had to be evacuated from buildings, in particular one in Melbourne and two in Queensland. A large hotel, a department store and an apartment building as a result of minor fires that caused undue smoke penetration through the buildings because of inadequate fire stopping. Although there were no major personal injuries there was however considerable disruption to businesses, loss of revenue and some minor personal injuries. In Queensland fire safety installations fines may well be issued to the owners of these buildings if their mandatory inspection records of the passive fire safety installations were found not to be up to date or there are breaches of the fire and smoke compartmentation (fire stopping) in a building under the BFSR.

The implications of these fires could have potentially been much worse.

Refer to examples below for the types of issues that compromise fire and smoke compartmentation in buildings.

Common Examples of Non Existent Fire Stopping Around Service Penetrations through Fire Resisting Construction
Common Examples of Breaches in Lightweight Fire Resisting Construction
Common Examples of Breaches in Fire Resisting Construction (Pipework Removed, PVC Pipe (no fire collar) and Inadequately Installed Fire Services Pipe with no fire stopping.

Building Legislation Table

Refer to our Building Legislation table for further information on the building control process including building certification and building surveying.

Fire Safety Compliance: Essential Safety Measures

Refer to our Essential Safety Measures Identification table for further information on individual Essential Safety Measures including AS 1851 requirements for As Built Drawings.

Further Advice

For further advice, please contact the Essential Property Services office by clicking here.