Compliance schedules and 'means of escape from fire'

The regulations covering the list of specified systems have been amended to include additional features and systems relating to means of escape from fire. The new regulations came into force on 12 January 2006.

A building that has a specified system must have a compliance schedule issued by a building consent authority that states the inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures for that system. The owner of the building must supply an annual building warrant of fitness to their territorial authority confirming that all specified systems have been inspected and maintained in accordance with the compliance schedule.

As outlined in Building Controls Update 24, the Department of Building and Housing recommended an amendment to the Building (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Regulations 2005 to require mandatory inspection, maintenance and reporting of the relevant systems and features that make up 'means of escape from fire' (as defined in the Building Act 2004). The following systems and features have been added to the list of specified systems:

  • Fire separations (as defined in the Building Code)
  • Smoke separations (as defined in the Building Code)
  • Final exits (as defined in the Building Code)
  • Systems for communicating spoken information intended to facilitate evacuation
  • Signs for communicating information intended to facilitate evacuation.

It should be noted that these systems will only need to be included in a compliance schedule when they are installed in the 'means of escape from fire'. For example, a firewall that protects an item of plant that is fully contained within a firecell (Purpose Group IA with zero occupant load), and that can only be accessed from an external door, is not included as a 'fire separation' because it is not within the means of escape.

In addition, the inclusion of these systems on the compliance schedule will only be required when the means of escape also contains one or more of the other fire safety specified systems already listed in Schedule 1 of the Regulations, for example, a sprinkler system or alarm.

This is to ensure buildings that do not have any of the other systems will not be required to have a compliance schedule as a result of the new regulations when they would not have required one previously (either under the 2004 or 1991 Building Acts).

Since 31 March 2005, building consent authorities will have issued new compliance schedules under the Building Act 2004 that do not include the systems and features outlined above. The Department has advised building consent authorities and territorial authorities that these compliance schedules may need to be amended to include the new systems and features relating to means of escape from fire.

The Building (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Regulations 2005 were notified in a Gazette notice on 15 December 2005, and are available from booksellers such as Vicbooks and Bennetts Government Bookshop.