Fire Doors: Existing Buildings
For existing buildings (Subdivision 2) the building owner has an obligation to ensure that the fire doors will function adequately in the event of an emergency. Building Regulations does not compel existing fire doors to comply with the current Standard for maintenance under Subdivision 2 of Part 12, that is AS 1851. Indeed, even AS 1851 specifies that unless this standard has been invoked by a controlling authority, under legislation it is not applicable.
Prior to 1994, the fire doors inspection and maintenance standard was not invoked by legislation. Consequently for existing buildings, it is the building owner who is required to determine the extent of required of fire doors inspection required in the pursuit of ensuring the fire doors are maintained adequately. The fire doors maintenance standard can be used as a guide.
We do not believe that it is the intent of the Building Regulations for “essential safety measures” known as fire doors in existing buildings to strictly comply with all new Standards created after the building was constructed, e.g. AS 1851. It may well be for certain installations, like emergency lights, that some essential safety measures should comply with the current standard, but not fire doors (as the Standard states).
Fire Doors: New Buildings
New buildings or buildings having recent alterations (Subdivision 1 or combined Subdivisions 1 and 2 buildings), the building certifier must determine the extent of fire doors inspection required for fire doors and place the fire doors inspection requirements in writing to the building owner upon completion of the building works, in the form of an Occupancy Permit, Maintenance Schedule or Certificate of Final Inspection.
The current benchmark AS 1851 stipulates quarterly fire doors inspection. We recommend building managers request the building certifier to nominate four fire doors inspection per year in high use fire doors, and lower number of fire doors inspection where the frequency of use of the fire doors is low, (for example: a hospital, shopping centre, etc. may warrant a higher number of inspections). The building certifier can modify the number of fire doors inspection under AS 1851.
If required to use the previous benchmark AS 1851:7, as is stipulated on an Occupancy Permit or Maintenance Determination, twelve fire doors inspection per year (eleven Type 1 and one Type 2) will be necessary.
Fire Doors: Installation
Essential Property Services staff are finding after fire doors inspection that a number of fire doors should never have been tagged (that is, where the installer certifies fire doors installation in accordance with the installation AS 1905.1 – 2005), due to defects at installation stage, but are required to be maintained with the current fire doors maintenance standard – AS 1851 (sometimes the contractor represents the same company who installed the fire doors). This situation should be considered unacceptable, especially when the defects to fire doors are minor and can be very costly to repair under AS 1851 stemming from fire doors inspection.
Fire Doors: Sprinkler Protection
Many fire doors that are installed in buildings protected by sprinklers deserve consideration, especially when they were installed in a period when no fire doors inspection maintenance regulations existed. Minor defects that some contractors say are acceptable in a non-sprinkler protected building are called up as maintenance items by other contractors in sprinkler protected buildings, and in such case a judgment call should be made by “appropriately qualified” inspectors as to the extent of remedial works required on fire doors relative to AS 1851.