From September 1st this year any new material, product or component of a building that is required to be the subject of a fire test, will have to be subject to the latest version of that fire test for it to be compliant for safe use. The thorny issue here is the way in which this change has been implemented by the Australian Building Codes Board. By setting a sunset date, there is the risk that this applies to any ongoing construction projects that are to be the subject of an Occupation Certificate post-September. That could mean a lot of checking, expensive rework and potential hold ups at OC if you aren’t aware of the change.
It is open to interpretation, but we think this has the potential to fan the flames and impact further the current material and labour shortages afflicting the construction market. We are of course referring to the removal of the concession that permits the reliance upon a test report to an earlier version of the testing standard for a material, product or component of a building. In effect this means only test reports to current versions of the standard for materials that are required to be either non-combustible, achieve a specific flammability index, smoke-developed index, spread of flame index, or achieve a fire resistance level (FRL).
The specific standards relating to the above are:
- AS 1530 Part 1 – 1994 Combustibility test for materials
- AS 1530 Part 2 – 1993 Test for flammability of materials
- AS / NZS 1530 Part 3 – 1999 Simultaneous determination of ignitability, flame propagation, heat release and smoke release
- AS 1530 Part 4 – 2014 Fire-resistance test for elements of construction
- AS 4072 Part 1 – 2005 Components for the protection of openings in fire-resistant separating elements i.e. service penetrations and control joints
We cannot stress enough how important it will be that anyone specifying or installing products, materials or forms of construction are certain that what they are calling up or using, has been tested to the latest version of the applicable testing standards. It isn’t too late to start preparing or you may start to feel a little hot under the collar when September comes around.
With disasters like Grenfell Tower in the UK, Neo200 and Lacrosse Tower here in Australia causing no end of heartbreak, public concern for building standards, negative publicity and not to mention the cost and legal implications, we do think this is a step in the right direction for the protection of building occupiers and users. We also understand the potential for causing further client pain points with this retroactive change and are ready to offer our guidance for any questions or concerns you may have.
MBC Group is a leading building surveyor consultancy, we aim to be a trusted partner in building surveying, accessibility and compliance management. We want to guide clients to the best possible outcome, ensuring a better built environment for all.
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