Australia now has a new building code with the National Construction Code (NCC) 2019 coming into force on 1 May 2019.
This new code has legal effect across the entire country. It’s important to stay aware of what the changes mean for your building and its fire safety.
Summary of fire safety changes
The NCC now mandates sprinkler systems in new Class 2 (residential apartments) and Class 3 (hotel, motel and dormitory style accommodation) buildings of four or more storeys and less than 25 metres in effective height (generally buildings four to eight storeys) which meet the performance requirements for fire safety by way of DTS provisions.
These changes result from the recommendations of former Deputy State Coroner Hugh Dillon after a 2012 fire in Bankstown, where 21-year-old Connie Zhang died jumping from an apartment block that was not required to have sprinklers installed.
As a result of the changes, building professionals can look forward to:
Simpler and easier to follow guidance
Around 40% of the NCC’s Performance Requirements will be quantified or measured, either directly or by a verification method. This will reduce the likelihood that Performance Solutions will be applied poorly, resulting in non-compliance.
Further performance requirements will be quantified when changes to the NCC are enforced in 2022.
Better, more cost-effective systems
As part of the changes, the Fire Protection Association Australia (FPAA) developed two new fire sprinkler specifications – FPAA101D, which relies on a connection to the domestic (or drinking water) supply; and FPAA101H, which involves connection to the hydrant supply.
Both of these systems are more cost-effective in terms of installation than the previous systems (AS 2118) since these no longer require a separate water connection.
These new specifications also provide higher levels of safety for those who often fail to react to alarm systems or notice fire. These may include groups such as young children, elderly people, those with hearing impairments and those whose ability to react are temporarily compromised (by sleep or substances such as medication).
No retrospective changes
You might wonder how these changes affect current building permits. Or perhaps you’re worried that you need to add or change construction requirements to your current build – which could result in costly delays.
Changes to the NCC will not be applied retrospectively. If you can demonstrate to the building surveyor that substantial progress was made in the design before the changes came into effect, the building surveyor can certify that the new provisions don’t apply.
The benefits of the new Code really make a positive impact on fire safety. It results in easier to understand guidance, more cost-effective and readily available fire sprinkler systems and less hassle as it won’t be enforced retrospectively.
Do you need a fire safety provider who understands how to comply with the new NCC? Contact Global Fire. Our team includes qualified CFSPs who stay on top of current and upcoming changes to regulations that affect new buildings. If you need advice, assistance and guidance on your designing and installing fire safety systems for your new building, call us now on 1300 88 70 18 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.