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Australia proposes fire-safety updates to national construction code

Proposed changes to Australia's National Construction Code (NCC) include new measures to improve fire safety in high rise buildings.15 Aug 2017

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) is seeking feedback on the proposed changes, based on a directive from Australia's Building Minister to speed up the adoption of the measures following a high rise apartment fire in Australia, the ABCB said.

The proposed changes include introducing a new method of testing external wall assemblies for fire spread. This would involve using a new testing standard, AS 5113, which requires an enhanced sprinkler system.

Regulations on sprinkler protection of the balconies on residential buildings would also be more stringent, and the language used relating to external wall claddings and attachments would be clarified.

The NCC's 'evidence of suitability' provisions would also be revised.

The ABCB will also update its advisory note on fire performance of external walls and classing, develop a suitability handbook, improve the CodeMark Australia product certification scheme, and develop training materials, it said.

The UK government announced this month that there will be an independent review into building regulations and fire safety, following the 14 June fire at Grenfell Tower in London, in which at least 80 people died.