Passive fire protection is a life safety system and hence it must be designed, selected and installed correctly. It is extremely important for the design parties to understand the characteristic of the passive fire protection products to ensure the selected system could provide the fire performance required.
The National Construction Code (NCC), or more specifically the Building Code of Australia (BCA) demonstrates several requirements that building components need to satisfy to ensure the building is safely designed and constructed. These building requirements are known as Performance Requirements, which must be satisfied in order to meet the compliance. According to the BCA, the Performance Requirements could be satisfied by a Deemed-to-Satisfy (DtS) Solution, a Performance Solution, or a combination of both.
- Deem-to-Satisfy (DtS) Solution
In most cases the DtS Solution is the simplest approach as it involves less parties. It is like a recipe for the building designer, where they will need to follow the requirements stated in the BCA in order to meet the compliance. From the structural steel fire protection point of view, depending on which parties are responsible on the selection of the passive fire protection systems, the products must be tested in accordance to AS1530.4 & AS4100, and it must have a report from the accredited testing laboratory in order to verify the validity of the product. If the product supplier only provides a statement on the product without the actual fire testing evidence (i.e. fire testing report or certificate), then the use of the product is unlikely a DtS Solution, and therefore it may require more input from the design engineer to make it a Performance Solution (or a combination of the two) in order to meet the compliance.
- Performance Solution
Performance Solution, also known as Engineered Solution, is an alternative method to meet the Performance Requirements. It allows the professional parties such as certified structural or fire engineer to analyse the overall building design and provide a statement on how the selected systems could satisfy the Performance Requirements stated in BCA, which provides greater flexibility on the building design.From the structural steel fire protection point of view, if the design engineer is confident in a product which does not have the AS fire assessment report, they can then utilize the Performance Solution method to meet the Performance Requirements.
Companies involved in the project should understand the structure of the project and where they fit within this structure, so that they do not need to carry any responsibility that is not applicable to them.
What information or evidence is required when using intumescent and how does it meet the BCA requirements?
To ensure the selected intumescent is a compliant product, you will need to firstly understand what you are after for your design. As mentioned in other areas of our website, there could be different passive fire protection criteria, such as structural adequacy, integrity, insulation, group number, incipient spread of flame, and so forth. Each of these topics have their own fire performance requirements, therefore it is important to understand what you are trying to achieve with the selected passive fire protection product.
- Example – a steel column that requires 60/60/60 FRL
According to AS4100 Steel Structure standard, passive fire protection for structural steel can only achieve the structural adequacy out of the three FRL numbers, hence, for a 60 minutes requirement, it would be 60/-/-. The other two numbers, which represent integrity and insulation, are usually achieved by a fire rated panel. The way to think about this is, integrity and insulation are about preventing the passage of smoke and flame and preventing the temperature rise from one room to the other. A steel column protected with passive fire protection is not capable of stopping smoke, flame, or temperature traveling to the other areas. Thus the intumescent protected column itself only achieves 60/-/- FRL.
- So how do we achieve the other two FRL numbers in this scenario? The first consideration, is it really necessary to have a 60/60/60 FRL for the steel post. If the steel post is installed in the middle of a room, then there is no point for it to have the integrity and insulation performance, as it is not compartmenting anything. However, if the steel column is within a compartment wall, then the 60/60/60 FRL is necessary. Generally, the steel column is to be protected for the 60/-/- purpose, and then this protected column will be encased by the fire rated panels with -/60/60 performance to meet the full 60/60/60 FRL requirement. How this is achieved would be up to the structural or fire engineer as this is associated with the building design.
Responsibility of the design engineer in the passive fire protection sector
It is important to understand that structural steel fire protection is part of the AS4100 Steel Structure design standard, and hence the structural engineer should be responsible for the design configuration and the selection of the passive fire protection products. Other parties could provide supportive evidence or technical advice for the situation, but ultimately the design engineer should review the documents to make sure they meet the compliance.
For more details on how intumescent paint meet NCC/BCA compliance, please refer to the attached document on this page.
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Disclaimer: Permax is a supplier of various fire protection products that are manufactured in global locations. The Permax advisory notes are developed to assist the professions in the Australian construction industry with their passive fire protection design. If you are unsure about the content of the documents or if you have any project specific enquiries, please contact the Permax Technical Team for further assistance.
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Permax constantly update the documentations based on the new fire testing outcomes and change of standards and regulations. To ensure the documents you read are up-to-date, please contact the Permax technical team.