The Australian insulation industry has called for greater vigilance in ensuring fire compliance in commercial buildings. According to industry stakeholders, fire compliance requirements in common building applications are being overlooked in commercial sheds and warehouses.

There is confusion regarding the use of insulation in specific applications, leading to misunderstandings about when compliance with the NCC BCA is required. The Building Code of Australia Volume 1 requires the internal ceiling and wall linings of Class 7 or 8 buildings (warehouses and commercial, industrial or rural sheds) to achieve a Group Number, where the required Group Number is determined by the area of the building and the inclusion of sprinklers in the area.

In most typical Building Classes, the insulation is hidden behind plasterboard, gyprock or similar materials, and therefore, does not require a Group Number. However, in the case of Australia’s sheds and warehouses, insulation is often left exposed in the internal compartment of the building, thus making it the lining, which necessitates its testing in accordance with AS/NZS 5637 to determine its Group Number. 

Materials used in these applications are quite often overlooked during inspections, and compliance with the Deemed-to-Satisfy requirements of the BCA is not being met simply due to lack of awareness of the application’s requirements.

“In Australia’s extreme climate, the need for buildings to be fire compliant is essential. Building surveyors need to be extra vigilant when it comes to seeking the required ratings and certifications,” says Scott Gibson, Chairman of Insulation Australasia.

“As fire compliance continues to be a focus point for the building industry, we need to put more emphasis on these misunderstandings and work to ensure all buildings are being built according to code.

“With a large portion of our country’s commercial sheds and warehouses in rural areas, we need to be extra vigilant. These buildings play a major role in the culture and economics of our country. They shelter our factories, store the feed for our livestock, house our harvests and protect our stock. We need to put more of a focus on protecting them,” concluded Gibson.