Security screens on fire doors

Firstly and importantly – Fire and Rescue New South Wales advise against the fitting of security screens to fire doors, although it really is a BCA compliance issue.

There are several issues with security screens…

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Fire Rated Ceilings: A resident’s guide

Can I install downlights, ducted air conditioning, ceiling exhaust fans or manholes in my unit ceiling?
Well yes… but you need to be very careful if your ceiling designed to have a “resistance to the incipient spread of fire to the roof space for a period of not less than 60 minutes”.
Fire rated ceilings are an fire safety measure, designed to slow the spread of fire from one part of the building to another.

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Passive Fire Protection

Passive Fire measures are designed to stop (or slow) the spread of fire from one part of the building to another. Most buildings have Passive Fire protection measures – even if they are not specifically listed on the AFSS.

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Smoke Alarms & Landlord Obligations

Landlords have clear obligations when it comes to the installation, repair and maintenance of smoke alarms.
So who is responsible for what?
Landlords can engage Civil Fire to fulfil their obligations for $75 + GST each year.

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Types of emergency lights

There are lots of different types of emergency lights! Some of the most common varieties are shown below.

Oyster Light
Exit Light
Test Point

These days LED emergency lights are common place.  All LED lamps have a lifespan and electrical efficiency that is several times better than incandescent lamps, and significantly better than most fluorescent lamps. 

All emergency lights have a back-up battery installed either the light body, or in the ceiling.

Identifying emergency lights

You probably have a mix of normal lights, and emergency lights installed around your building.

The easiest way to spot an emergency light is to look for:

  1. The emergency light symbol
  2. A test button, or
  3. A red LED (charging light)

Testing emergency lights

Australian Standards require that exit & emergency lights be tested every 6 months.

Testing involves interrupting the power supply (we call this a discharge test), to see if they remain illuminated for at least 90 minutes running on battery power. This would give building occupants 90 minutes to safety evacuate the building in an emergency scenario. 

Just because an emergency light works when it is connected to 240V power does not mean the light is capable of performing in an emergency. A light must stay illuminated for the full 90-minute discharge test.

Separation of circuits

In newer buildings (built from the late 1990’s onwards), emergency lights should be on their own circuit, and should have a dedicated test point (pictured above). 

If emergency lights are on the same circuit as house lights (or garage doors, TV reception, internet, intercom etc), then these services will be impacted each time an emergency lighting test is performed.

Lifespan of emergency lights

Exit and emergency lights have a shorter lifespan when compared to non-emergency lights. This is primarily because the circuitry of emergency lights is more complex than non-emergency lights.

Aside from the lamp (which is common to non-emergency lights), there is a charger, a battery and additional circuitry. The battery is always drawing charge when the light it running on mains power which generates heat within the fitting and can lead to component failure. Furthermore, an exit and emergency light is usually always on. Like any other bit of technology you own, the components will eventually fail from overuse.

Factors like quality of manufacture & exposure to environment will impact on the lifespan of an emergency light, however on average, a quality fitting should last for between 6 and 8 years.

There are plenty of poor quality emergency lights on the market. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. Installing cheap lights, will end up costing building owners more in the long run.

Emergency lights in your building should be treated as a maintenance item like painting, or gardening

Repairing emergency lights

Emergency lights can be repaired/replaced/installed by any licensed electrician.

HOWEVER an Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety) is required to endorse emergency and/or exit lights on the AFSS. 

If emergency light repairs are completed by others (not Civil Fire), a subsequent reinspection (discharge test) is required in order to verify performance. 


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