Can You Reduce the Frequency of Your Building Emergency Inspections?

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Gary Rowe

| October 22 2019

Can You Reduce the Frequency of Your Building Emergency Inspections?

Quick Tip| Reading Time: 3 Min

A reader has asked if they can reduce the frequency of inspection and testing of the various emergency facilities in their buildings because they felt the fire service firm may be over-servicing them.

How often should you service your emergency facilities?

The maintenance and testing of building emergency facilities, is usually specified in the Occupancy Permit, which is issued by the local government authority.

You must continue to inspect and maintain building emergency facilities and equipment in accordance with the requirements stated on your Occupancy Permit.

Fire extinguisher on wallWhat Are Typical Emergency Facilities?

Building emergency facilities include the following as relevant for the circumstances:

  • Exit doors & signage
  • Travel paths to exits
  • Emergency lighting
  • Portable fire extinguishers
  • Fire hose reels
  • Fire hydrant
  • Fire detection and suppression systems.  E.g. smoke detectors & sprinklers
  • Emergency alarms and communication systems
  • Fire blankets
  • Smoke containment systems. E.g. auto-shut corridors.

 

Legal Requirements

The workplace safety legislation does not provide specific inspection or testing details for building emergency facilities and equipment,

The Building Act and Building Regulations in each state reference the National Construction Code (NCC) for maintenance and inspection requirements.

 

The National Construction Code

The NCC incorporates all of the onsite building requirements into one volume from the Building Code Australia (BCA) and Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA).

The Building Regulations via the NCC prescribe the process for issuing of Building and Occupancy Permits, and ongoing building inspection and maintenance standards.

 

Occupancy Permit

The maintenance and testing of building emergency facilities, is usually specified in the Occupancy Permit, which is issued by the local government authority.

Occupancy Permits usually reference the relevant Australian Standards, as current at the time of issuing the certificate, per the sample table below:

Example Victorian Occupancy Permit

Sample Conditions For Occupancy Permits

Here's an example of the sort of conditions you might find in your Occupancy Permit.

Occupation is subject to the following conditions.

Essential safety measures must be maintained in accordance with the maintenance requirements set out in the following table:

Essential Safety Measures

Installation Standards / Level Of Performance

Nature of Inspection or Test Frequency

Exit Doors BCA Section D Every 3 months Confirm operation & hardware.
Travel Paths To Exits BCA Section D Every 3 months. Confirms paths clear.
Exit Signs BCA Part E4, AS2293.1: 1998 Every 6 months to AS2293.2: 1995
Emergency Lighting BCA Part E4, AS2293.1: 1998 Every 6 months to AS2293.2: 1995
Portable Fire Extinguishers BCA E1.6, AS2444: 1995 Every 6 months to AS1851.1: 1995
Fire Hose Reels BCA 1.4, AS2441: 1988 Every 6 months to AS1851.2: 1995
Fire Hydrant BCA 1.3, AS2419.1: 1994    Every 6 months to AS1851.4: 1992

Note: As the building regulations are generally not retrospective, as opposed to workplace safety laws which are retrospective, the standards also cite the year, so inspection and testing frequencies will be set for the life of the building or until major renovation requires it be brought up to current standards.

Fire Hose Reel

Conclusion

You must continue to inspect and maintain building emergency facilities and equipment in accordance with the requirements stated on your Occupancy Permit.

You may be able to do some of the inspections internally. For example, the 3 monthly checks of exit pathways and exit doors could easily be completed and recorded internally by a competent person.

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If you'd like more information on emergency facility inspections or if you have a safety question you'd like answered, just contact us. Take away the guesswork and talk to one of our expert Safety Consultants. Call +61 (03) 8544 4300.

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