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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Emergency Lights

In an emergency situation emergency lights should run on their backup battery for at least 90-minutes. Australian Standards require that exit & emergency lights be tested every 6 months. Exit and emergency lights have a shorter lifespan when compared to non-emergency lights.

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Fire Safety & COVID-19

COVID Safe Badge

The Greater Sydney area has been in lockdown since 26 June 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak that originated in Bondi.

Since then, the restrictions have continually been tightened. The announcement that all non-essential works in residential buildings should be postponed caused confusion in the fire industry. The Public Health Order said that works could continue if it impacted the health and safety of residents, which fire protection work does. Fire safety maintenance had been considered an essential service during the 2020 lockdown, so it was suggested that fire safety inspections should continue during this lockdown as well. There was nothing written in black and white though, so there were many mixed opinions being expressed in the fire industry at this time.

Subclause (4B) was added to the Public Health Order on 22nd July 2021 which specified that works inside residential buildings and units were able to proceed if they were for the purpose of fire protection and safety: 

The addition of this subclause provided some much needed clarity to our industry. We now know that the government consider it is essential that fire safety inspections & repairs continue as normal. Arguably, the maintenance of fire safety measures in residential buildings has never been more important as most Sydney-siders are spending the vast majority of their time in their homes. Civil Fire have always made it a priority to adhere to government advice, and so we are proceeding with inspections and repairs as normal. 

Unfortunately, most Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) due date’s have not changed due to the COVID-19 lockdown, so we cannot postpone inspections and repairs. 

Having said this, Civil Fire understand that though there is a risk of fire, there is also an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission amongst authorised workers who visit multiple sites. In response to this, Civil Fire have developed a COVID-19 response that includes the following preventative measures:

  • All Civil Fire staff are fully vaccinated
  • Face masks must be carried by Civil Fire staff onsite at all times, to be worn if asked
  • Staff are to practice good hand hygiene and use sanitiser regularly
  • All Civil Fire staff must get a COVID-19 test and self-isolate if they are showing any symptoms or are a close/casual contact
  • No staff are permitted to come to work if they are sick, they must get tested and self-isolate
  • Staff are not to enter the residence of anyone who is in isolation

Despite these precautions, we know that some people will not be comfortable allowing our technicians into their units during the lockdown period. If this is the case, Civil Fire will not force entry. We will try to issue an altered AFSS that states that certain units weren’t accessed due to COVID-19 concerns.

What can residents do to help?

  • Please social distance from our technician where possible while they are in your unit or in your building
  • Please let our staff know if you have COVID symptoms or are in isolation
  • Let our staff know if you are not comfortable with them entering your unit. Our staff will not force entry, they only need to be told not to enter. As above, we are doing our jobs in accordance with government guidelines, so your understanding is appreciated.
  • Call the office on 9906 1626 if you have any questions or concerns.
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