Smoke Detectors_Update to National Construction Codes 2015

Extract from the ABR Bulletin issue 12 July 2014

For a number of years now, for a building providing sleeping accommodation, the NCC Performance Requirements EP2.1 and P2.3.2 in Volumes One and Two respectively have specified that occupants be provided with automatic warning on the detection of smoke so they may evacuate.

Typically, in residential occupancies, automatic warning is provided by smoke alarms, or where appropriate, heat detection
alarm systems to provide early notification of fire and time for occupant response. The location of these alarms in strategic
positions such as a hallway serving bedrooms is designed to allow an early response by occupants to a fire that may not be apparent and in its early stages of development.

The size or layout of some residences can create situations where a number of alarms may be distributed throughout the
occupancy, for example, in two storey dwellings or houses where bedrooms are separated by a living area.
NCC 2014 introduced a change to the Deemed-to-Satisfy (DTS) Provisions for the installation of smoke and heat alarms. In a Class 1 building, within sole-occupancy units of a Class 2 or 3 building and in a Class 4 part of a building, the DTS Provisions now specify that alarms are to be interconnected so that when one alarm is activated it will activate all other alarms in the occupancy. This feature will increase the likelihood of occupants being aware of the presence of a fire.

Whilst acknowledging that the final Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) demonstrated a small net cost, the ABCB considered the
following factors to support a change to the DTS Provisions for interconnecting smoke alarms in sole-occupancy units in Class 1,
2, 3 and 4 buildings where more than one alarm is provided:
• The life safety of building occupants, and particularly those in residential buildings (acknowledging the additional risks
associated with being asleep), was considered to be of paramount importance;
• The cost of interconnecting alarms at the time of construction is not considered to be large and is significantly cheaper than
the costs associated with retrofitting this feature; and
• Acknowledging that the cost benefit analysis met COAG guidelines, the ABCB was of the view that the saving of a life
through the interconnection of alarms represented a greater value to the community than that presented in the Final RIS.
Note that it would be possible to develop an Alternative Solution in lieu of the DTS Provision as long as Performance Requirement
EP2.1 in NCC Volume One or P2.3.2 in NCC Volume Two as appropriate is met.

The Final RIS is available on the ABCB website www.abcb.gov.au.