FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions

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# # Questions Click to Order
1 What are Essential Safety Measures (ESM)?

Essential safety measures are the fire, life safety and health items installed or constructed in a building to ensure adequate levels of fire safety and protection…over the life of the building. Essential safety measures include all traditional building fire services such as sprinklers and mechanical services etc., but also include passive fire safety such as fire doors, fire-rated structures and other building infrastructure items such as paths of travel to exits.” (From the Building Commission – Essential Safety Measures Maintenance Manual).

Under Schedule 9 of the Building Regulations 2018 the following categories or ‘types’ of Essential Safety Measures are listed:

  • Building Fire Integrity
  • Means of Egress
  • Signs
  • Lighting
  • Fire Fighting Services and Equipment
  • Air Handling Systems
  • Automatic Fire Detection and Alarm Systems
  • Occupant Warning Systems
  • Lifts
  • Standby Power Supply System
  • Building Clearance and Fire Appliances
  • Mechanical Ventilation and Hot, Warm and Cooling Water Systems
2 What types of buildings have ESM that needs to be maintained?

A brief description of these building classes are as follows:

Class 1b – A boarding house, guest house, hostel or the like with a total area of all floors not exceeding 300m2, and where not more than 12 reside, and is not located above or below another dwelling or another Class of building other than a private garage.

Class 2 – A building containing 2 or more sole-occupancy units each being a separate dwelling.

Class 3 – A residential building, other than a Class 1 or 2 building, which is a common place of long term or transient living for a number of unrelated persons. Example: boarding-house, hostel, backpackers accommodation or residential part of a hotel, motel, school or detention centre.

Class 5 – An office building used for professional or commercial purposes, excluding buildings of Class 6, 7, 8 or 9.

Class 6 – A shop or other building for the sale of goods by retail or the supply of services direct to the public. Example: café, restaurant, kiosk, hairdressers, showroom or service station.

Class 7 – A building which is a carpark, or a building which is for storage or display of goods or produce for sale by wholesale.

Class 8 – A laboratory, or a building in which a handicraft or process for the production, assembling, altering, repairing, packing, finishing or cleaning of goods or produce is carried on for trade, sale or gain.

Class 9 – A building of public nature, such as a health care building, aged care facility, factory or school, etc.

3 Why do ESM need to be maintained?

“The objective of maintenance is to ensure that every essential safety measure continues to perform at the same level of operation that existed at the time of commissioning and issue of the occupancy permit.” (From the Building Commission – Essential Safety Measures Maintenance Manual).

Specific maintenance requirements of ESM are generally determined by the relevant building surveyor with reference to the Building Code of Australia and/or an Australian Standard. Maintenance can involve anything from visual inspections (i.e. paths of travel, penetrations in fire resistant structures, etc.), to physical adjustment and repairs (i.e. replacing failed exit or emergency light fittings, pressure testing hydrants, etc.).

As well as ensuring that ESM operate as intended to protect the building and life of occupants, failure to comply with ESM maintenance requirements can also result in infringement notices and fines being issued by the relevant Council or Fire Authority to the building owner.

4 What is the difference between Essential Safety Measures (ESM) and Fire Safety Measures (FSM)?

Long answer short, is that they are the same thing, just different terminology between Victoria and NSW. There is different legislation across each state, and different requirements for annual reporting and the processes for assessment, but the terms are referring to the same things (Fire Extinguishers, Hose Reels, Hydrants, Fire Indicator Panels, Sprinkler Systems, Paths of travel, Fire resistances etc)

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