Fire Upgrades for Building Code Compliance

8 August 2018
By Hamish Anderson

As a building owner/manager it is essential that as part of your regular operations you ensure your properties are compliant with the fire protection standards enforced by the National Construction Code of Australia and the councils and various Industry bodies. In other words, you should be taking steps to ensure you’re your building complies with all relevant standards. Alternatively, if you have received a fire upgrade order, you need to act now.

Fire Upgrade - Fire Safety System - Remedial Building Services

If you are surprised you have received a Fire order in the first place, it could be due to the fact that a lot of them are issued at the time a property puts in development applications and/or missing annual submissions of fire safety statements. However, the local council can issue an order any time if:

  • Your fire protection systems don’t meet the current National Construction Code (NCC);
  • The area of concern has a high risk of a fire incident.

Additionally, upgrade orders can be issued from fire brigades for the repair or maintenance of your existing active and passive fire protection measures.

You or the body corporate may decide to make voluntary fire upgrades on the building, but take note that the council will still issue an order when deemed necessary. It is worth noting if you are seeking to be proactive and upgrade your building to comply, you will still need to seek council approval in connection with the proposed project.

Don’t Delay!

Fire upgrade orders generally come with sufficient time to meet the requirements, which may vary depending on your local council and your building’s needs. Be sure to respond as soon as possible when you receive the notice.

What to Do

When you receive a fire upgrade order notice, read through it to ensure that you understand the areas of concern. Any questions you have can be directed at the issuing body, alternatively, you may appeal the orders with the Land & Environment Court, but note, this move is rarely successful.

If the order specifically details what you need to do, seek the help of an architect or a builder to get estimated costs of the project. You can also seek the expertise of a fire engineer if you want to know of any alternative solutions. In doing so, you may be able to get your fire engineer to discuss matters with your local council regarding the solutions you wish to implement. The advantages are you may have an equally adequate solution, but one which can lower your upgrade costs.

But what if the order is vague?

If this is the case, make sure to discuss your notice with a BCA consultant or an experienced building surveyor to help you understand your options and to generate a checklist for complying with fire safety and protection standards

You will then have to get indicative costs for each of your proposed solutions with the help of a builder or architect. Choose the best option for you and return to the local council with your proposed solutions and action plans.

Implementing Your Plan

Once you have the approval of the council on your proposed upgrade solutions, it’s a requirement to have professionals install them.
An architect or fire engineer can detail the works required and liaise with builders and subcontractors on your behalf to ensure proper implementation. Fire engineers or BCA consultants are also required to inspect and sign off the works.

If you wish to get advice on your fire upgrade compliance, you can call Remedial Building Services. We have helped countless others in meeting their requirements and in organising for work to be done. Not only can we provide you with the advice you need, but we are certified to install a range of water-based fire-rated products such as coated batts, acrylic sealants and pipe collars to ensure the containment of the fire. We are also experienced in fire rating your building’s structural steel, minimising the risk of collapse due to intense heat. Speak to a member of our team to find out how we can help you today.

Alternatively, feel free to contact our sister company Permax and their qualified professionals who can also be of assistance.