Fire protection regulations for early planning of commercial buildings

With often paying a premium for commercial land you want to ensure you plan your new building and site layout to get the best functionality for the intended use. However, it is important to consider the fire protection requirements at the early planning phase as this can have a significant impact on the design and cost of a new commercial building project. 

Fire reports can be based on either an Acceptable Solutions or by Verification Method.

The C/AS2 Acceptable Solution is the simplest way to show compliance as these have very prescriptive and clear rules around what is required for most buildings to comply with.

There is several different Risk groups which is classified depending the intended use and size of the building. Most XL Structural steel buildings will fit within the classification of the following Risk Groups: WB (Business, commercial and low-level storage) or WS (High level storage or potential for fast fire growth).

WS Risk Group has more stringent regulations than WB Risk group. The key factors for most of our clients to be aware of is that WS Risk group is for buildings with a capable height of storage over 5.0m, or over 8.0m at the apex. It can often provide significant savings on fire protection requirements if you can plan your building to have under 5.0m of storage height and apex height below 8.0m as it is likely to bring the building within the classification for WB risk group.

Setback from boundaries

You want to ensure you get the best functionality from your building and site. An important consideration at the early stages of planning a new build is the distance to boundaries and the amount of external fire rating required, as this can greatly affect the amount of door openings you can have.

Fire rating is typically not required for walls located on a road boundary so can often work efficient to locate the building to the front of the site to get good street frontage.

Based on a building with a maximum apex height of 8.0m (Risk Group WB) the following rules apply to side and rear boundaries:

  • If the building is located 1.0m or less from a side or rear boundary, either concrete tilt panel construction or a full two-way firewall is required. A 450mm high parapet is also required, or the underside of the roof cladding fire rated up to 1.0m from the boundary.

  • If the building is located over 1.0m from the relevant boundary a one-way fire wall is required but doesn’t require a parapet – this can save significant cost in comparison to building within 1.0m of the boundary as there is no need for expensive internal gutters.

  • If the building is located between 1.0m and 12.0-15.0m from the relevant boundary, a one-way firewall is required with increased amount of unprotected area allowed the further from the boundary it is located – this allows for openings such as doors and windows however depending on the distance there are varying stipulations as to the sizes of openings and distances between openings. You can reach out to our team here to discuss further.

  • If the building is not to be used for storage (or a maximum storage hight of 3.0m), the building is required to be 12.0m from the boundary to have no fire rating.

  • If the building is proposed for storage up to 5.0m, the building is required to be 15.0m from the boundary to have no fire rating.

Modern standards in fire prevention and safety mean it’s better to work with specialists from the very beginning of a proposed build. Designing a new commercial building with not only your business’s growth goals in mind but also compliance and legislation will save money in the long-run and provide a safe working environment for your employees.

It’s never too early, or too late, to discuss your building needs with us. Whether it’s during the conceptual stage and you’re scoping costs or you’re about to break ground with plans in hand there are few things more costly than the questions you didn’t know to ask.

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