NSW Coronial Inquest Into Bankstown Fire Highlights Significant Fire Safety Issues
The NSW Coroners Court inquest into a 2012 fire in a Bankstown apartment that led to the death of Pingkang (Connie) Zhang has heard of signicant failings in fire safety which should serve as a serious wake up call to all stakeholders.
On 6 September 2012, two residents of a unit in the multi-storey ‘Euro Terrace’ building in Bankstown, NSW were forced to leap from the window of their fifth storey unit as it was consumed by a significant fire.
Tragically, Pingkang (Connie) Zhang died as a result of the fall and the other resident was seriously injured.
The nine storey 24.92m high “Euro Terrace” building is predominantly used as residential apartments with car-parking facilities and some ground floor level retail tenancies. The car park is protected by a fire sprinkler system but the residential apartments are not required to be sprinkler protected.
Several fire safety measures had been identified as potentially non-compliant prior to the fire occurring. Some of these included the nature of the enclosed roof atrium, fire doors that didn’t fully self-close and missing fire safety notices.
The inquest also revealed that the apartment where the fire started included an illegally constructed third bedroom, meaning potential impacts on fire protection measures within the unit.
Under the Building Code of Australia (BCA) fire sprinkler protection is only required when the effective height of a building is more than 25m. As a result, apartments such as the Euro Terrace building are often deliberately designed and constructed to incorporate as many levels as possible while ensuring the effective height is kept below 25m.
FPA Australia CEO Scott Williams said that, as a result, unsprinklered ‘low rise’ apartments of this type posed significant potential fire dangers.
“Unfortunately there is little difference in the required life safety systems between a three story residential building and nine story apartment such as the Euro Terraces,” he said.
FPA Australia strongly believes that, given the increase in apartment developments less than 25 metres, changes to the Building Code of Australia are necessary in order to improve the level of life safety for occupants in these buildings.
To read more, click here. Alternatively you can listen to Scott Williams discussing these issues with Richard Glover on ABC 702 by clicking here.
FPA Australia Backs Senate Inquiry into Building Product Compliance
FPA Australia is pleased by the announcement this week that a Senate inquiry will be held into the safety and legality of imported building materials in Australia.
The inquiry, co-sponsored by Senators John Madigan of Victoria and Jacqui Lambie of Tasmania and approved by the Senate today, was set up amid rising safety concerns about substandard imported building materials.
High profile incidents have included the apartment fire in Melbourne's Docklands last year that quickly spread via the non-compliant, combustible exterior cladding as well as the recall of non-compliant "infinity"electrical cable, believed to be installed in around 40,000 homes.
Senator Xenophon said a key aspect of the inquiry will be the inspection and regulation framework that was clearly failing.
"This inquiry is a breakthrough in addressing what many in the building industry and their clients have known for some time: Australia has become a dumping ground for some of the world's dodgiest and most dangerous building products,"
FPA Australia CEO Scott Williams said the inquiry was sorely needed.
"It is past time that we openly and transparently addressed this pressing and serious issue of building product non-compliance in this country," he said.
"We are a developed nation and are entitled to expect safety in buildings that we occupy. The confidence of the community, that buildings are safe, must be restored."
"As an Association we are committed to presenting solutions to this issue and that is why we have already proposed a comprehensive risk-based framework for product compliance and we will be submitting this to the inquiry."
The Associations discussion paper has already been submitted to all state and territory building ministers including the federal minister for industry.
Many of these issues have been addressed in a recent episode of ABC 7.30 which can be viewed here.
Professional Membership Category Opens July 1
FPA Australia is extremely pleased to launch our professional level of membership.
Professional membership is for those individuals who are registered with a body representing professionals wanting to take an active role within the activities of FPA Australia.
Practicing Professional members must hold a minimum of $2 million professional indemnity insurance and are bound by the FPA Australia Code of Professional Conduct, the memorandum & Articles of Association/Constitution and terms and conditions of membership. There is no insurance requirement for non-practicing Professional members.
Professional membership is for Fire Safety Engineers, Building Surveyors, Engineers or the like. Applicants must submit copies of the applicable qualification, accreditation, certification, registration and any additional supporting evidence.
All Professional membership applications are subject to approval by FPA Australia. (Please note: FPA Australia will not accept membership as a form of recognition).
Professional membership fees are $389.00 inc GST per year. To view a listing of benefits and to apply click here.
FPAS Fire Systems Design & Fire Systems Certification Applications Opens July 1
Applications for the Fire Systems Design and Fire Systems Certification accreditation under the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS) will be open from 1 July 2015 for all individuals in all states and territories.
Once sufficient numbers of applicants are registered, workshops and assessments will initially be facilitated in Victoria and New South Wales and then over time, rolled out to other states and territories. The staged approach is designed to ensure capacity to provide the necessary workshops and assessment sessions.
Fire Systems Design’ and ‘Fire Systems Certification’ accreditation will be launched initially with two individual accreditation pathways for entry into the Scheme:
1/ Experienced (transitional) Accreditation is awarded to an applicant who has demonstrated a minimum of four years of relevant work experience.Those individuals who gain this transitional accreditation will be required to transition to a future Qualified Accreditation within four years of it being introduced.
2/ Trainee (transitional) Accreditation is offered to FPAS ’Recognised’ businesses and is awarded to an applicant who works under the supervision of an FPAS accredited individual whilst undertaking approved formal learning.
The Qualified Accreditation pathway will be introduced at a later date as further industry and regulatory consultation and review is currently being undertaken in relation to the most suitable requirements for this pathway.
Evidence of Experience
Applicants will need to provide detailed evidence of their work history and practical experience relevant to the categories of accreditation being applied for.
Applicants are required to attend a one (1) day workshop. The workshops will cover the expectations of accredited individuals, key fundamentals and principles related to designing and certifying fire systems, current best practice and key elements of good practice in service delivery.
Should you have any further enquiries for either Fire Systems Design or Fire Systems Certification accreditation or any general FPAS enquiries please contact the Accreditation and Licensing Department on 03 8892 3131 or by email email@example.com.
Stephen Kip Appointed to the Board of ABCB
FPA Australia is pleased by the recent appointment of Mr Stephen Kip to the Board of the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB).
Stephen is a leading fire engineer both in Australia and internationally. He has held senior engineering positions with private and public organisations including Warrington Fire Research and the Building Research Association of New Zealand as well as having been deputy to the Building Commissioner at the Building Control Commission in Victoria, Australia.
He has been involved in reviewing, researching and drafting of building regulations and was closely involved in the development of the performance based Building Code of Australia 1996, in particular the fire performance requirements of the BCA and establishment of postgraduate training programs for regulatory authorities and fire engineers.
Stephen holds a Masters Degree in Engineering and has additional postgraduate qualifications in Fire Safety Engineering and Building Project Management. He is a Fellow of Engineers Australia, an Honorary Fellow of the academic staff of the University of Melbourne School of Architecture and Building, and an Associate of the academic staff of the Victoria University Centre for Environmental Safety & Risk Engineering.
Given his depth of knowledge, experience and skill in fire safety engineering and building and construction regulation, codes and standards Stephen's appointment to the ABCB board is an outstanding addition and we are confident his appointment will be of great value to ABCB for years to come.
Strong Turnout for Fire Protection Maintenance in South Australia Seminar
On Wednesday and Thursday 24 & 25 June FPA Australia held a two day seminar on the the maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment in South Australia, with a focus on changes to Minister’s Specification SA76 and the technical requirements of AS 1851-2012.
The seminar was very well attended with almost 90 participants over the two days. The event was sponsored by Alan Wilson Insurance Brokers and Flamestop and the Association thanks our sponsors for their generous support.
The event was also supported by the South Australian Government and we were very pleased to work with the Government to properly educate the fire protection industry and key stakeholders on AS 1851-2012, given that it is now the preferred maintenance standard across the state.
The sessions were detailed and practical and excellent feedback was received about the quality and accuracy of information provided.
For anyone who is interested in the seminar content but was unable to attend, all presentations and other supporting documents can be purchased as a digital download. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Logo for Corporate Members Coming Soon
FPA Australia is excited to announce a new suite of membership logos for use by Corporate Members.
The new logos have been specifically designed to more strongly highlight the relevant membership levels of corporate members. The Association hopes that all Corporate members will prominently display the new logos on their vehicles, stationary and website (in accordance with the logo guidelines).
By proudly displaying your member logo, you are letting your customers and the public know that your business is a valued member of Australia's peak body for the fire protection industry - FPA Australia.
All Corporate members will receive further details in the coming weeks including the high resolution version of the relevant logos. These will also be available to download via CONNECT. For enquiries please contact the Membership Services Department of 03 8892 3131.
Workplace Relations - Quarterly Report Now Available - Last Chance for Special Offer
There is still time to take advantage of the limited 50% off special offer on our Workplace Relations Plus service.
Until 30 June, Corporate members are eligible for an exciting 50% offer for those who sign up to Workplace Relations Plus and commence services by 31 December 2015.
All FPA Australia Corporate members who subscribe to Workplace Relations Plus are eligible to use a range of enterprise agreements tailored by FPA Australia for the fire protection industry (specifically focused on sprinkler fitting & electrical) as well as a number of other exclusive services.
Available services for Workplace Relations Plus subscribers include:
A range of tailored enterprise agreements for the fire protection industry. These include agreements for Licensed Sprinkler Fitting, Licensed Electrical, Non-Trade Fire Protection work and much more
FPA Australia enterprise agreements that are Building and Construction Industry Code compliant
Support for existing enterprise agreements or other arrangements (capped restrictions apply)
To learn more about Workplace Relation Plus download the brochure. To take advantage of the special introductory offer download the registration form.
Corporate members of FPA Australia last week also received the second in our series of Quarterly Reports on workplace relations matters, as part of our commitment to the ongoing needs of our members.
These reports cover a range of important topics including statistics, findings, case studies and other relevant developments in the industrial relations space in the past three months.
The reports are provided free to Corporate Members and are also available on the CONNECT member resource platform.
The Autumn Report contains information on economic statistics, wage movements as well as industrial matters, an Industrial Legislation up-date, the Modern Award review process as well as decisions from various courts and tribunals plus WHS.
HazMat 2015 Conference & Exhibition A Great Success
The recently held HazMat 2015 Conference & Exhibition was a strong success.
Over the course of two days (Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 June) almost 200 attendees were treated to presentations from both local and international experts on the latest insights in the chemical management and hazardous materials industries.
In addition, many delegates chose to attend the pre-conference workshop and attendees were also able to browse products in the exhibition hall featuring 14 quality product suppliers.
80 delegates also attended the dinner function at the stunning L'Aqua restaurant which was a highlight of the conference. Darren Flanagan, the guest speaker for the night, receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from attendees. His story of the Beaconsfield mine rescue was inspiring and emotional and is sure to leave a lasting impression.
HazMat 2015 has received excellent feedback with several delegates commenting that that they enjoyed the conference and exhibition while several exhibitors noted that the event was beneficial for their business.
The Association would like to thank our Major Sponsors: NSW EPA and Workcover NSW as well as everyone who attended HazMat 2015. We look forward to seeing you again next year.
Fire Protection Association Australia | Building 2, 31-47 Joseph Street, Blackburn North, VIC 3130 | 1300 731 922
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