Regarding fire safety in Australia, the National Construction Code (NCC) brings several changes and a summary of the changes and how Warringtonfire can assist you are below.
New provision numbering – Section Part Type Clause (SPTC)
A new clause number system has been implemented for NCC 2022. This change is to make the NCC more machine-readable by having a consistent clause structure within and across Volumes. Because of this, performance requirements which previously resided under Section C now sit under Part C1. This pushes previous provisions of Part C1 into Part C2. The previous provision number will be located on the right-hand side of the provision, which will assist practitioners whilst getting used to the changes.
Non-combustible building elements
A number of changes have occurred to the previous C1.9 now C2D10. These changes are designed to assist practitioners with applying the non-combustible element provision.
The changes include concession for some combustible building elements including:
- Thermal breaks installed within the external wall system.
- Compressible fillers used in construction joints.
- Fixings, fixing accessories and packers.
- Certain waterproofing materials.
- Joint reinforcing tape, mesh and trims.
- Weather sealing materials between concrete elements.
- Wall ties and masonry components.
- Reinforcing bars, encased in concrete or grout.
- Paints and coatings.
- Adhesives/tapes associated with cladding system stiffeners.
- Fire-protective materials for the protection of penetrations.
C2D10 also now includes a list of materials which are non-combustible, removing the need for these materials to be tested to AS 1530.1. These materials include, but are not limited to:
These changes will assist the industry in achieving compliance however, we note that certain elements within external walls may not align with these concessions. Warringtonfire will continue to develop performance solutions for materials and systems that are not granted concessions under the deemed-to-satisfy (DTS) provision C2D10 of NCC 2022.
Amendments have occurred to the previous C1.14, new provision C2D14. Elements which are combustible are permitted to be used on an external wall. Including:
- Waterproofing materials
- Collars, sleeves and insulation associated with services
- Screens for vents and weep holes comply with AS 3959
- Brush seals are associated with doors and windows.
Fixings of bonded laminated cladding panels
A new provision has been included for NCC 2022 – C2D15 requiring externally located bonded laminated cladding panels to be mechanically fixed. The fixing must be through all layers of the bonded laminate materials. Concessions to this provision include laminated glass, layered plasterboard products and components of a garage door.
Number of exits required within a building over 25 m in effective height
A common performance solution Warringtonfire develops is to allow for a single exit for tenancies that have direct egress to a road or open space when located in a building over 25 m in effective height.
An amendment to D2D3 previously D1.2, now allows the use of a single exit, provided there is direct egress to a road or open space and the exit travel distance is achieved for a single exit.
Performance solutions are still required if the exit travel distance cannot be achieved.
Early childhood centre in high-rise buildings
A number of changes to the Deemed to Satisfy (DTS) provision have occurred for early childhood centres (ECCs).
ECCs must be fire separated from the remainder of the building if it is not the only use of the building.
The fire separation must have a fire resistance level (FRL) no less than that of a firewall. In addition, each storey within an ECC must contain at least two fire compartments. These changes aim to provide a safe zone during evacuation.
An ECC can no longer be used under the 10% rule. Therefore, ECCs will always be classified at 9b under A6G1.
Previously D1.3 allowed for a concession requiring fire-isolated exits for a stairway or ramp not passing through more than two storeys. The new D2D4(2) does not grant this concession for ECCs. The exits must be fire-isolated, except when the ECC is solely within a storey which provides direct egress to a road or open space, or where the ECC is the only use of the building and has a rise in storeys of not more than two.
Amendments have also occurred to the horizontal exit requirement for Class 9b ECCs. Although horizontal exits cannot be used as a required exit if used for the purpose of travel distances, the clear area within the horizontal exit must be able to accommodate all the occupants within the fire compartment.
An additional handrail is now required for ECCs, under D3D22. The additional handrail must be located on one side of a ramp or both sides of a stairway greater than 2m wide and at a height between 450mm and 700mm. This is in addition to the current handrail requirements.
Re-entry from fire-isolated exits is now required in ECCs. D3D27 requires re-entry to all doors within a fire-isolated exit unless the doors are fitted with a fail-safe device that automatically unlocks upon the activation of a fire alarm.
Sprinklers are now required to serve the entire building that contains an ECC. The exemptions to this requirement are for ECCs which are wholly within a storey and provide direct egress to a road or open space. Further, ECCs that have a rise in storeys of not more than two where the only use of the building is an ECC, need not be provided with sprinklers. In addition to requiring sprinklers, the sprinkler heads within the ECC must be quick response.
An automatic smoke detection system is now always required for an ECC and any building containing an ECC.
Primary schools in high-rise buildings
The former D1.18, now D2D23 previously had requirements for egress for early childhood centres. The early childhood centre provisions are now located in D2D4(2). However, D2D23 now has an egress requirement for Class 9b primary schools.
The amended provision requires Class 9b primary schools to be wholly within a storey with direct egress to a road or open space. One exemption applies for primary schools which have a rise in storeys of four or less and the building's sole use is a primary school.
Bushfire prone area
New provisions have been included for certain Class 9 buildings in bushfire-prone areas. They will apply to Class 9a health care buildings; Class 9b early childhood centres, primary schools or secondary schools and Class 9c residential aged care buildings.
Although Warringtonfire does not develop performance solutions for bushfire-prone area requirements, there could be a cross-over of requirements that would involve consultation between the bushfire consultant and fire safety engineer.
Hydrant Standard AS 2419.1 - 2021
The scope of AS 2419 has been amended to exclude certain buildings and systems with buildings. The scope excludes the following:
- Class 7b or 8 buildings have a total volume of more than 108 000 m3.
- Buildings that include automatic racked storage systems.
- Buildings having an effective height greater than 135 m.
- Buildings and associated areas that include special hazards.
Other amendments to the standard include:
- Restructuring the document to improve its readability.
- Include new technologies and industry best practices.
- Separating section 8 for pipework and values into two sections.
- Introducing requirements for high-rise buildings based on internationally applied Standards.
Volume – Defined term
To assist in the calculation of volume for the maximum size of a fire compartments, a new defined term has been included. For the purpose of a fire compartment, the volume is taken between the inner surfaces of enclosing fire-resisting floors and walls. If there is no fire-resisting floor it is measured from above the finished surface of the lowest floor. Where there is no fire-resisting floor at the top of the fire compartment, it is measured to the underside of the roof covering the fire compartment.
Whilst the adoption dates for the NCC 2022 are still not set, due to a pending discussion from the Building Ministers in late August 2022, it is anticipated that the adoption of NCC 2022 will be 1 October 2022. It is still uncertain whether all the proposed provisions will be adopted, such as energy efficiency and condensation, however the fire safety provisions are likely to be adopted. If you are unsure of job specific phase in periods that may be relevant to the State or Territory you are working in, Warringtonfire's fire safety code consultants can assist in understanding this process.
For more information about the NCC or to find out how we can help, contact firstname.lastname@example.org