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Frequently Asked Questions

What are Essential Safety Measures (ESM)?

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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 2006, 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

What types of buildings have ESM that needs to be maintained?

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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.

Why do ESM need to be maintained?

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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.

What determines the specific ESM assets that are required in my building?

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What determines the specific ESM assets that are required in my building?

The specific ESM assets in your building will usually have been determined by a fire engineer during the design and construction of the building. This would then be signed off by a building surveyor, who will provide the property with an Occupancy Permit (OP). The OP will list what types of ESM assets the property contains, as well as the relevant servicing/inspection frequencies and standards for each asset type.

In the event you do not have a copy of the OP, Linkfire will service the property based on a visual inspection of the assets present and typical servicing/inspection frequencies and standards.

What are the inspection and testing frequencies required for ESM maintenance?

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What are the inspection and testing frequencies required for ESM maintenance?

This can vary between the types of ESM asset and the particular property. Most items are due quarterly, half yearly or annually; however, some items can be required monthly or once every 5 years, for example. The Occupancy Permit (OP) for your property will state what ESM assets are present and the frequency of servicing/inspection for them.

What is an Annual Essential Safety Measures Report (AESMR)?

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What is an Annual Essential Safety Measures Report (AESMR)?

The AESMR is annual report that needs to be completed by all properties with ESM. The report is in a specific approved format in accordance with the Building Regulations 2006.

The AESMR contains the details of all ESM servicing in place at the property and also a statement that the owner has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that each ESM item is performing to the required level and that no penetrations or changes to fire resisting elements has taken place without a building permit.

How is the criticality of ESM defects determined?

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How is the criticality of ESM defects determined?

The method of determining how critical ESM defects are comes from Australian Standard AS 1851-2012. Under this standard, defects can fall into three categories: Critical, Non-Critical and Non-Conformance. Further information on the criteria used to classify defects within these categories can be found here. Linkfire sometimes also use a fourth category titled “recommendation” for instances where something is required or advisable, but does not specifically fall under the heading of ESM.

What are council building notices/orders and how can I deal with them?

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What are council building notices/orders and how can I deal with them?

If you receive a building notice or order on a site where Linkfire are engaged, then you should forward us a copy of the notice/order as soon as possible. In most cases, any items on a building notice/order that are related to ESM will be relatively minor and we can assist in allaying any concerns the council may have by simply providing them with documents and information. If the council is requesting something more substantive, then we can assist clients with preparing a response and/or undertaking any required upgrading works.

How can I help avoid false alarms occurring in my building?

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How can I help avoid false alarms occurring in my building?

There are a number of things that building occupants should look out for to assist in avoiding false alarms and a potentially costly attendance by the Melbourne Fire Brigade (MFB). The MFB has a number of useful fact sheets covering this issue on their website, which can be accessed here.

How can I monitor ESM inside my private apartment?

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Apartment fire doors and apartment smoke alarms – how can I monitor ESM inside my private apartment?

Many larger buildings will have ESM assets on both common areas and inside private apartments. The most common of these are apartment fire doors, smoke detectors inside private apartments and sprinkler heads inside private apartments.

Generally it is impractical for the person servicing ESM in common areas to access private apartments, so it is very important that occupants are aware of the ESM inside their private apartment and notify their building manager/owners corporation manager of any changes or issues they notice with ESM inside their private apartments.

Information on visually inspecting you apartment fire door can be found here.

What are the different types of fire extinguisher and what are they for?

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What are the different types of fire extinguisher and what are they for?

There are a number of different extinguisher types in use and some properties will have a variety of types on site. Each type has different characteristics and uses. More information on extinguisher types and their use can be found here.