Everything we do in the fire Industry is governed by rules and regulations some of which carry more weight and override others. It’s extremely important to know what they are, where to find them and most importantly how to interpret them before making a decision or having the ability to answer a question correctly.
Below in order is the hierarchical structure of governance.
- Act of Parliament
- Primary legislation
- Referenced by an Act
- Therefore, Law sets the Maintenance Requirements, Reference Codes which includes Queensland’s own Code the QDC MP6.1 & the Australian Standards.
- Referenced by the Commonwealth, State and Territory Legislation
- Therefore, Law set the –
- Minimum technical requirements.
- References other Codes & Standards
- Only Law if referenced by legislation
This allows you to apply the correct Act / Law / Legislation & Standard to your Fire Protection Equipment, which in turn will assist in understanding the various reports generated by your service contractor.
Follow the link below to the QBCC web site for a full breakdown of Building Classification.
Building Classification - http://www.qbcc.qld.gov.au/building-codes-australia-bca-classes-buildings
Routine Service Records
Logbooks, tags, labels and summary records Service records, including the pass/fail criteria, shall be captured at the time of routine service. These records may be captured in the form of—
(a) hardcopy logbook;
(b) electronic log; or
(c) tags and labels with hardcopy summary records.
Logbooks Service records in the form of logbooks (hardcopy or electronic) shall contain the following information:
(a) Name and address of building or site.
(b) Date and frequency of service performed.
(c) System or equipment identification and location.
(d) Each activity performed, including recorded results if required, and ‘pass’ or ’fail’ as appropriate.
(e) Details of each non-conformance or defect including its classification, location and any rectification completed.
(f) Name of responsible entity (owner/occupier).
(g) Name and signature of the service person and date.
(h) Name of the service provider or company.
Your Fire Protection Contractor will typically supply this report Annually, its intended that the System Condition Report be used as supporting evidence when trying to gauge the level of compliance of your fire protection systems within your building.
These forms provide evidence and certification that all works carried out met the relevant building laws.
Form 15 — A building design or specification will, if installed or carried out under the certificate, comply with the relevant building laws.
Form 16 — That an aspect of building work complies with the building approval and the relevant building laws.
Follow the link below to the Department of Housing and Public Works
Both of these forms give certification and sign off in relation to any testing or commissioning works carried out on the Hydrant or Sprinkler System.
Form 71 – Purpose, Fire hydrant and sprinkler system commissioning.
Form 72 – Purpose, Fire hydrant and sprinkler system periodic testing and maintenance.
Follow the link below to the Department of Housing and Public Works
Owners or Occupiers are required to fill in this document Annually and must indicate if a Critical Defect has been issued for the period covered in this document.
- Building occupiers must complete and occupiers statement within one year of taking occupation and yearly, within one year of the date of the last occupiers statement.
- Building occupiers must keep records of maintenance to ensure the occupier, any appropriate qualified person, local government officers and authorised officers of the QLD Fire & Rescue Services can check compliance with this code.
- Building occupiers must keep occupier’s statements with the building’s records of maintenance for two years from the date the document is made.
- Section 55 of the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 specifies mandatory details for records of maintenance. The occupier’s statement is within schedule 2 of this code.
- The occupier must, within 10 business days after the occupier is required to prepare an occupier statement, give the commissioner a copy of the statement
What is a critical defect and when will I be issued with one?
A defect in a prescribed fire safety installation for a building is a critical defect if -
- The defect is likely to render the installation inoperable; and
- The defect is reasonably likely to have a significant adverse impact on the safety of occupants of part or all of the building if a fire or hazardous materials emergency happens.
Examples of critical defects -
- A defect making a fire detection and alarm system inoperable.
- A defect in a pump making the fire hydrants for a building inoperable.
Notifying Critical Defects -
The person must give the occupier of the building a notice about the defect in the approved form (a critical defect notice) within 24 hours after the person carries out the maintenance of the installation.
Note— Under QDC, part MP6.1, the occupier of the building must attach to the relevant occupier statement any critical defect notice given under this section.
A defect that renders a system inoperative.
Examples of critical defects include an impaired water supply which is unable to provide water to a sprinkler system or an inoperative fire indicator panel which is unable to warn the building occupants of fire. Note - a critical defect is reasonably likely to have a significant adverse impact upon the safety of occupants of part, or all, of the building.
A system impairment or faulty component not likely to critically affect the operation of the system.
Examples of non-critical defects include, local alarm bell not operating, water motor alarm failure
Missing information or incorrect feature that does not affect the system operation but is required facilitate ongoing routine service.
Examples of non-conformance include missing or incorrect sprinkler block plan as required, missing spare sprinklers, missing sprinkler guards, missing equipment location signs or illegible labels and non-availability of required information required to validate a service activity
What is the time frame for rectification of a defect?
The occupier of the building must ensure the repair is carried out or the corrective action is taken no later than 1 month after the maintenance of the installation was carried out, unless the occupier has a reasonable excuse.
1. Stop Valves -
Affixed to the valve body or strap of each valve, there shall be a plate or tag inscribed with the words ‘FIRE SPRINKLER VALVE-SECURE OPEN’ and ‘VALVE no’ in uppercase letters not less than 8 mm high.
2. Location Plate –
A location plate shall be fixed on the outside of an external wall, as near to the main stop valve(s) as practicable, bearing the following words in clear permanent lettering ‘SPRINKLER STOP VALVE’ should be in letters at least 35 mm high, the word ‘INSIDE’ in letters at least 25 mm high and the words painted white on a black background.
3. Emergency Instructions –
The following instructions together with an appropriate valve arrangement diagram shall be permanently displayed at the control valves assembly
1 CALL FIRE BRIGADE (000)
2 MAKE SURE THAT FIRE IS OUT.
3 CLOSE MAIN STOP VALVE (SHUTTING OFF WATER SUPPLY).
4 OPEN MAIN DRAIN VALVE (DRAINING INSTALLATION).
5 CALL MAINTENANCE CONTRACTOR.
6 REMAIN AT VALVES.
IF FIRE RE-OCCURS -
(A) CLOSE WASTE VALVE; AND
(B) RE-OPEN MAIN STOP VALVE.
4, Remote Test Valve –
The remote test valve shall be readily accessible, locked shut, and shall be labelled as follows: SPRINKER REMOTE TEST VALVE—TO BE LOCKED SHUT.
1. DANGER - AUTOMATIC START EQUIPMENT
2. DANGER - THIS EQUIPMENT STARTS AUTOMATICALLY
3. DANGER - STARTS AUTOMATICALLY
Notice of pressure –
A fade-resistant engraved sign shall be fixed either in a prominent position within the cabinet or, where there is no cabinet, on the assembly. The following wording shall be marked on the sign in upper case lettering not less than 25 mm high and in a colour contrasting with that of the background:
WORKING PRESSURE (*) kPa - SYSTEM TESTED to (*) kPa
Fire brigade booster connections shall be marked by a fade-resistant sign with the words
‘HYDRANT BOOSTER’ - ‘HYDRANT AND SPRINKLER BOOSTER’ –
‘COMBINED HYDRANT AND SPRINKLER BOOSTER’
in letters not less than 50 mm high and in a colour contrasting with that of the background. Adjacent to the connection, the highest test pressure withstood by the hydrant system, or the minimum prescribed value of 1700 kPa, shall be clearly marked. Where an enclosure contains fire hydrant outlets in addition to the inlet connections, ‘FH’ shall be marked within a circular line of inside diameter 100 mm, of the same thickness and colour as the lettering.
External alarm indication -
The word ‘FIRE’ shall be marked on or adjacent to the strobe in lettering not less than 25 mm in height on a contrasting background. The label shall be upright and clearly legible when the strobe is installed.
Fire panel -
Where the fire indicator panel is obscured by a door, then that door shall be marked in a contrasting colour to the general colour scheme with the words ‘FIRE PANEL’ in letters not less than 50 mm high. There shall be no other lettering on the door.
Sign Location -
A location sign shall be provided above or adjacent to a fire hose reel located in a recess, cavity or an obscure location. Signs shall be positioned so as to be clearly visible to persons approaching the fire hose reel location.
Mounting Height -
Signs shall be mounted not less than 2.0 m above floor level, or at a height that makes them most apparent to a person of average height and visual acuity approaching the fire hose reel location.
Cabinet Enclosure -
The cabinet or enclosure shall be marked with the words ‘FIRE HOSE REEL’ in letters at least 50 mm high in a colour providing a high contrast with that of the background. The door may also be marked with a location sign.
Sign Size -
The size of the sign shall be determined by -
(a) the location at which the sign shall be legible.
(b) the distance at which the sign shall be legible.
Location Signs -
The extinguisher and fire point location signs shall have symbol, border and letters in white on a red field, approximating R13 Signal Red.
Sign Location -
A sign shall be provided above or adjacent to an extinguisher. A single sign may be employed to indicate multiple extinguishers in one location, even if different types are grouped together. Signs shall be positioned so as to be clearly visible to persons approaching the extinguisher
Mounting Height -
Signs shall be mounted not less than 2.0 m above floor level, or at a height that makes them most apparent to a person of average height and visual acuity approaching the extinguisher location.
A sign, to alert persons that the operation of certain doors must not be impaired, must be installed where it can readily be seen on, or adjacent to, a -
1. Fire door providing direct access to a fire-isolated exit
2. Smoke door, on the side of the door that faces a person seeking egress and, if the door is fitted with a device for holding it in the open position, on either the wall adjacent to the doorway or both sides of the door.
3. Fire door forming part of a horizontal exit; and
4. Smoke door that swings in both directions; and
5. Door leading from a fire isolated exit to a road or open space, on each side of the door.
A sign must be in capital letters not less than 20 mm high in a colour contrasting with the background and state -
1. Automatic door held open by an automatic hold-open device -
“FIRE SAFETY DOOR—DO NOT OBSTRUCT”
2. Self-closing door -
“FIRE SAFETY DOOR DO NOT OBSTRUCT DO NOT KEEP OPEN”
3, Door discharging from a fire-isolated exit -
“FIRE SAFETY DOOR—DO NOT OBSTRUCT
Please follow the link below to the QLD Fire & Emergency Services Web Site where they list their requirements
Threshold and floor finish Clearances between the bottom of all door leaves and the floor shall be as follows:
(a) Between the leaf and the top surface of the floor including any floor covering—not less than 3 mm and not more than 10 mm.
(b) Between the leaf and the top of the non-combustible threshold—not more than 25 mm.
NOTE: When the installed doorset is inspected for compliance with Item (b), the clearance should not exceed 25 mm for the purpose of certification unless a note providing information on clearances is made in the evidence of compliance.
Side-hung door, leaf-to-frame -
Door leaves side-hung into rebated frames shall be installed to swing clear of the doorframe and shall have mean clearances, in the closed position, between the leaf and the head and between the leaf and each stile, of not more than 3 mm.
As per AS 1905.1 - When the installation is complete, each installed fire-resistant doorset shall be inspected and have affixed the prescribed metal tag to the edge of the door leaf and to the doorframe, provided it can be confirmed that—
(a) hardware has been installed in accordance with the specified installation instructions;
(b) the doorset latches satisfactorily from the fully open position and from any intermediate position;
(c) the closer demonstrates satisfactory action as specified in Clause 2.3.4;
(d) on the basis of evidence of test or an assessment of a registered testing authority, or both, and evidence of manufacture to the specifications of the tested specimen, the doorset complies with the installation requirements and all other requirements of this Standard; and
(e) the clearances specified have been met
Some buildings constructed before January 1990 may have fire doors using thermal insulation that is asbestos containing material (ACM).
If a fire door is damaged to expose friable asbestos material, the material and door will need to be removed by an asbestos removalist who has a certificate to perform the work issued by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
It’s not illegal to have an security door or insect screen fitted to Sole Occupancy Unit Door ( SOU Door ) as long as this does not affect the direct means of escape or access route in the event of an emergency.
These particular items can prevent a door from latching therefore compromising the tested system, Fire Boar has a duty of care to defect these items and notify the client.
These are lights that are not on 24 hours at a time and non-maintained lights were the norm until approximately 2004/5. They work when the 240v power is off, so they come on in an emergency only.
In buildings built post 2004/5 maintained lights are the norm ie. they are on for 24 hours (and therefore consume more power).
Emergency lights can be changed from maintained to non-maintained except in circumstances where this may create safety problems. E.g. Where buildings are not normally used at night then non-maintained lights would be acceptable.
Correct Installation and Visibility as per AS2444 –
The extinguisher, or extinguisher location sign, shall be clearly visible from a distance up to 20 m in all directions of approach
Replace or Pressure Test –
In recent times due to competition in the market manufacturers are reducing costs which has been passed onto the consumer meaning most extinguishers are now being swopped out for new and the pressure test refill option is becoming less common
Common selection issues –
Significant switchboards – An extinguisher shall be located between 2 and 20 m from any significant switchboard. A 5 kg carbon dioxide extinguisher, or another type of extinguisher having a minimum classification of 1A:E and fitted with a hose, shall be provided and shall be the extinguisher closest to the switchboard.
Office electrical and electronic risks - The maximum distance from an extinguisher’s normal location to the risk shall be either –
(a) 20 metres, in areas where there is a large density of electrical/electronic equipment (e.g. computer centres, broadcasting studios, telephone exchange equipment rooms and the like); or
(b) 40 metres, in areas where there is a lesser distribution of electrical/electronic equipment (e.g. offices using computers and photocopiers).
Cooking oils and fats - An extinguisher shall be located between 2 and 20 m from the risk. Where a fire extinguisher is being selected to control fires involving cooking oils and fats, an extinguisher with an F classification and rating applicable to the surface area of the hazard shall be provided and shall be the extinguisher closest to the risk.
Fire blankets provide an appliance with which to attack small Class A and Class B fires and fires involving cooking oils and fats. Fire blankets may also be used as a thermal barrier against radiated heat and to control a fire in the clothes being worn by a person (also known as a ‘human torch’ fire)
Fire blankets shall be of a size to meet the expected hazard.
Where a ‘human torch’ fire is considered part of the risk, a fire blanket of size 1.2 m ´ 1.8 m or 1.8 m ´ 1.8 m shall be provided. However, in confined spaces, smaller blankets shall be considered in order to facilitate use.
Each fire blanket shall be located in a conspicuous and readily accessible position but shall not be located in a position where access could present a hazard to the potential user. Where practicable, fire blankets shall be located along normal paths of travel and near exit
Fire blankets shall be installed by mounting their containers so as to withstand the loads imposed when removing the fire blanket from its container. Sufficient room shall be allowed so that the fire blanket can be quickly removed without impedance from nearby obstructions.
The maximum coverage for a fire hose reel shall comply with the following requirements:
(a) All points on a floor shall be within reach of a 4 m hose stream issuing from a nozzle at the end of the hose laid on floor. The hose length shall not exceed 36 m.
(b) The distance from a hose reel to the nominated point shall be taken as the most direct laid-on-ground or floor route.
(c) The location of internal walls, partitions, doorways, storage racking, and any other fixed obstructions, which would restrict normal hose coverage throughout the building or area to be protected, shall be considered when determining the number and location of fire hose reels.
NOTE: In the case of car parks, the coverage is based on the arc of hose length + 4 m.
(d) The coverage shall be in compliance with the requirements stipulated in the BCA
Replace or Repair –
In some instances, dependent on Hose Reel type / manufacturer repairing or replacing components is a viable option, however on cheap poorly made versions replacing the full Hose Reel is more cost effective.
Correct Installation as per AS2441
240v Smoke Alarms
240V Smoke Alarms are directly connected to 240V power. 240V Alarms can be located within a dwelling unit and also in the common areas of the premises such as lift lobbies & stairways etc. 240V Alarms located in common space are often inter-connected. i.e. if one detects smoke, they all go into alarm. This inter-connected method makes it difficult to locate a failed alarm as there is no method of determining which alarm may be faulty.
All 240V Alarms have battery back-up. Whether the 240V alarm is located in private or common space, it should be tested 6 monthly with the battery replaced annually. Private areas however are the responsibility of the Occupier and compliance does not need to be formally reported under the Building Fire and Safety Regulation.
The Building Fire & Safety Regulation states that if a premise (unit or house) is let for rent then there must be at least one working 240V Smoke Alarm in every dwelling.
Detectors and Fire Indicator Panels (FIP)
Smoke “Detectors” are different to 240V Alarms in that detectors are connected to a Fire Indicator Panel (FIP) which supplies their power. An FIP system has detectors located throughout a building which when activated send a signal back to the FIP which in turn activates a local alarm and/or calls the fire brigade. Alarm sounds are determined by Regulations and will vary according to the age of the installation. The later the model, the better the detection and alarm capabilities of the system. In most cases, only the detectors within a dwelling unit will go into alarm if activated. Whereas, if a detector in a common area activates, all common areas will sound. The detectors are usually addressable and faults are indicated on the FIP as they occur. Battery back-up is located in the FIP.
Testing regime is monthly for the FIP (Panel) and at least 50% of the connected individual detectors must be inspected annually.
On some sites, there is a mixture of both systems
Sample sprinklers should be selected from the range of site environmental conditions to which the system(s) is subjected (i.e. office, factory, boiler house environments, etc.).
REMOVE and TEST a representative sample of sprinklers at the following intervals:
1,Dry pendent sprinklers (representative sample), every 10 years.
2,All other sprinklers (not less than 14 samples), at 25 years, then every 10 years
Should one or more sprinklers fail any of the above tests, further sampling and testing should be conducted until the results can be considered truly representative. The extent of sprinkler replacement, if any, will be dependent on the results of testing
The following tests on the sprinkler heads should be conducted by a registered testing authority:
(a) Release temperature.
(b) Functional test.
(c) Leak resistance test—Maximum system design pressure test.
Spare sprinklers that have the same K factor, RTI, orientation and temperature rating, of those installed in the system, together with the spanners for the sprinklers, shall be located on the premises.
The number of sprinklers provided shall be the design number of sprinklers for the system, for each hazard.
1 A stock of spare sprinklers is intended to reinstate temporarily the system immediately after an activation event to minimize system down time.
2 For multiple controls, a number of spares should be kept on the premises.
3 Spares should be replenished immediately after an incident. Advice should be sought regarding the possible necessity of replacing sprinklers on the perimeter of the fire area, which (although they have not operated) may have been affected by heat.
The 5 Yearly test is carried out to access the integrity of the system and its components, especially the Non-return Valve which is vital component on such a system.
Water Supply Non-Returns -
AS 1851-2012 Section 4 & Table 4.4.4 states – RENEW water supply non-return valve seating’s and gaskets.
The recommended option is to replace these valves. These valves are one if not the most important component in the system, if these valves fail the system cannot be boosted in the event of fire. Remember this valve has been in the system for a minimum of 5 years and in many instances a lot longer.
The Fire and Rescue Service Act 1990 (the Act), section 104D, states that "The occupier of a building must maintain at all times every prescribed fire safety installation to a standard of safety and reliability in the event of fire". All structural features that are fire safety installations such as passive fire systems are required to comply with this section of the Act at all times, not just those in the tables above. Owners and occupiers should periodically inspect structural features to ensure that the features continue to provide compliant passive fire safety outcomes for the building. The NCC requires safety measures to be capable of performing to a standard no less than which they were originally required to achieve.
General Evacuation Instruction and Practice
General Evacuation instructions must be given to workers within 2 days of commencing work (instructions include location of the fire safety reference points and the procedures for evacuating the building safely in the event of an emergency). Records of this instruction must be kept and made available to QFES on request.
Evacuation Practice must be conducted Annually. Practice details must be kept and made available on request.
It is a requirement under the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 that all persons working in a building/facility, and this includes any volunteers and contractors, must be given general evacuation instructions as soon as practically possible but no later than 2 days from when the person commenced work then at 12 month intervals thereafter. Within one month of a person commencing work (or as soon as practically possible from their commencement date) that person must receive First Response Evacuation Instructions (this includes a practical component such as Fire Extinguisher Training). First Response Evacuation Instruction must then be given again at 24 month intervals. If however there is a material change that would affect the instructions given e.g. the operational of the manual alarm system or change in the procedures for evacuation, then these changes need to be conveyed to all persons working within the building/facility affected as soon as practically possible but no later than one month after the changes have been implemented.
An Evacuation Coordinator must be appointed. The role of the Evacuation Coordinator is to ensure annual evacuation training is conducted. They are NOT responsible for coordinating evacuation in the event of an emergency.
Any person who during the previous 3 months has worked, resided or visited the building for at least 2 weeks for a total period of at least 10 hours per week is also required to be given General Evacuation Instructions.
Training requirements for High Risk/High Occupancy Buildings
All high risk evacuation training must be delivered by a qualified Fire Safety Advisor.
A High Risk/High Occupancy Building is described as one or more of the following:
• A building that is a workplace where 30 or more employees are normally employed in a single risk area (the Workplace Health and Safety Advisor test)
• A class 2 or 3 building that is more than 25 m in height,
• An “at risk” licensed premises as nominated by the fire commissioner
High risk/high occupancy buildings will be required to have a member of staff appointed and trained as a Fire Safety Advisor (FSA). The role of the FSA will be to provide/arrange evacuation training to staff and to be involved in the Fire and Evacuation Plan development, review and practice process.
In a high risk/high occupancy building Fire Wardens will be appointed. The number of Fire Wardens and associated responsibility is determined by the Fire Safety Advisor.
What is the Certificate of Classification (C of C)?
Every building is issued with a C of C (by the council/private certifier) when it is legally certified for use.
Buildings completed prior to July 1997 don’t need to display one.
The reason is that prior to July 97 all buildings were deemed to satisfy (DTS), as per the Building Code of Australia (BCA) now Called the National Construction Code. This meant that specific fire services were allocated for a particular type of building and there were no departures from the BCA. If you have a type X building as classified by the BCA then you have to have fire services that suit a type X building.
In July 97, the BCA (Now National Construction Code) become performance based, which means a fire engineer can depart from the DTS provisions of the BCA as long as the Service provided results in the performance standard being met. For example a fire engineer may be able to apply Type Y services to a type X building. This is regarded as a departure from the code but recognised as a fire engineered solution. Acceptable departures are listed on the relevant C of C.
As an example – Under the BCA a maximum of 6 metres was allowed between the front door and the fire stairs. This meant that everyone could evacuate a building within a specified amount of time.
The same building constructed post July 97 can have a greater distance between the front door and the fire stairs provided certain conditions are met. In this case, the condition may be that an evacuation speaker is installed in one of more units to ensure evacuation occurs in the same amount of time.