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Primary Fire Safety Requirements in the Building Code of Australia

16 May 2023

BCA has set out fire safety requirements to make sure building owners can integrate elements and systems that can prevent fire from causing damages and injuries.

Fire, after all, is a destructive element that can damage and obliterate buildings and everything on its path. It can also cause serious injuries and even deaths, which can be devastating for the families and loved ones of the victims.

Given the consequences of fire, buildings in Australia should follow the basic requirements and standards set by the Building Code of Australia or BCA. The BCA provides technical requirements for building design and construction as well as a framework for the maintenance of properties, making sure they will be safe, accessible, and sustainable for a long time.

One aspect of the building design and construction that BCA prioritises is fire safety. To ensure buildings can withstand the risk of fire, BCA has set out the following fire safety requirements that property owners and contractors should adhere to.

Fire Resistance

The BCA requires that materials and components used in buildings will be fire resistant to a certain level based on their type and intended use. These materials include structural components like walls, floors, and roofs, as well as non-structural components like doors and windows. The level of fire resistance required varies depending on the building classification and fire hazard level. Higher levels of fire resistance will be required for properties such as hospitals, aged care facilities, and high-rise buildings.

Fire Separation

Aside from fire resistance, the BCA also necessitates buildings to be designed and constructed with fire separations. The purpose of integrating fire separations is to prevent the spread of fire between different parts of the building. Fire separation materials include separating walls, floors, and roofs. Penetrations such as pipes and cables must likewise be appropriately sealed to prevent the spread of fire.

Fire Suppression

Fire suppression is another element that the BCA wants buildings to include and integrate. The addition of appropriate fire suppression systems can help detect, control, and extinguish fires. These systems include fire sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, and fire hose reels.

Alarm Systems

The BCA likewise requires buildings to include fire detection and alarm systems in their general design. The purpose of these systems is to alert occupants to the presence of a fire. Some elements included in these systems are smoke detectors, heat detectors, and fire alarms.

Smoke Control

The BCA also affirms that smoke control systems should be present in buildings to prevent the spread of smoke. They must also ensure that occupants can safely evacuate the building. Some elements included in these systems are smoke exhaust systems and smoke barriers, which can remove smoke from the building and contain smoke within the building, respectively.

Emergency Lighting

Proper emergency lighting is also a requirement by the BCA as it allows occupants to safely evacuate the building in the event of a fire. Emergency lighting must be installed along exits and in areas where occupants may need to gather during an emergency.

Means of Egress

The BCA requires buildings to be constructed with adequate means of egress, ensuring occupants can safely exit the building in the event of a fire. Accessible and appropriately located stairways and fire escapes are some means of egress that buildings can incorporate into their general design. They must also follow the width and distance requirements set by the BCA so that they can be useful during an emergency.

BCA sets out a range of requirements to ensure that buildings are designed and built to withstand the risk of fire. To know more about these building fire safety requirements, feel free to contact us at Key Compliance.