National Construction Code 2019 and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition
On 22 November 2018 the Australian Building Codes Board endorsed the National Construction Code 2019. The updated code included new requirements for fire sprinkler installation – a Deemed-to-Satisfy (mandatory) provision will require all new Class 2 and 3 shared residential buildings from four storeys up to 25 metres to install fire sprinklers. The change addresses the increased risk in today’s apartments from the greater use of synthetics, composites and plastics in modern furniture, furnishings and construction. As part of this requirement, two new safe, reliable and cost-effective fire sprinkler systems are available for installation. The additional protection afforded by sprinklers has allowed the trade-off of other measures to minimise total cost while improving occupant and firefighter safety. The Proposal For Change to the National Construction Code is the result of the NSW Deputy Coroner’s recommendations following the tragic Bankstown fire in 2012. The Coroner recommended that a more cost-effective, yet fit-for-purpose sprinkler system design(s) be developed. Subsequently, Fire and Rescue NSW and its partners undertook live fire research to determine the effectiveness of more cost-effective sprinkler systems. This research was the basis for the joint Fire Protection Association Australia-Fire and Rescue NSW-AFAC proposal, now endorsed by the Australian Building Codes Board coming into effect on 1 May 2019. One of the new sprinkler designs taps into the domestic water supply, rather than a specific fire water supply. This is a significant change to the sprinkler landscape and is a step towards the broader strategic objective of cost-effective fire sprinklers in all homes. As well, the close and successful collaboration of the research partners has been the catalyst for the relaunch of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition. This is a joint initiative between AFAC and FPA Australia to improve life safety by promoting and supporting the increased adoption of residential sprinklers.