Quill Essential Newsletter - October 2021
The FPAS scheme in NSW is now well under way and the management of smoke control systems in NSW is tightening up – this is good news for Strata Managers and the safety of occupants in high-rise apartments. In this issue of our newsletter we highlight some critical Fire and Safety Issues seen in the field over the last several months. We’ve also added Passive Fire Prevention to our list of services.
Fire protection technicians are specialists in the science of fire prevention who help individuals, businesses, groups or organizations diagnose the risk of fire and deploy proper safeguards. This is particularly relevant for high density residential such as high rise apartment buildings.
The Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS) is a national accreditation system designed to recognise and promote individuals with the minimum skills, knowledge and competencies required of professional fire protection technicians, as well as the businesses that support these individuals. FPAS became mandatory in NSW in July 2020
Since then, practitioners must be accredited under FPAS if they wish to perform ‘regulated work’ under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (EPAR).
Qualified Inspections and Advice
The FPAS scheme in NSW is now well under way and the management of smoke control systems is tightening up. Quality of inspections and reporting is much better.
As FPAS approved Fire Safety Assessors Quill Essential Services is seeing a marked uptake in consultation and use of our professional services, particularly in the area of fire safety for apartment buildings for:
- Mechanical Air Handling Systems (e.g. pressurisation Systems)
- Smoke Dampers
- Fire Dampers
- Smoke Dampers
- Smoke and Heat Vents
Highlighting Fire and Safety Issues seen in the field
We have undertaken many inspections and significant building upgrades during the past six months – here are some highlights:
Large apartment building with no mechanical air handling
A large residential complex in eastern suburbs of Sydney had been signed off as compliant 16 years ago. Quill Essential were called in by the Strata Manager because the incumbent mechanical contractor had not achieved FPAS accreditation. Our team found that no exhaust or supply fans were functioning and that there was no method of operating any car park fan (even if they ran) in event of a fire.
Some of these car parks were 80 metres long and posed real risk to life. A cost competitive quotation was submitted and upgrade works completed. This building is now safe.
No fire dampers Installed in large apartment building
We are continuing to see multiple fire damper defects across multiple new sites where we have been invited to endorse Annual Fire Safety Statement AFSS.
One medium size site was found to have no fire dampers installed in foyer penetration where they were required and yet this has been endorsed every year. This building is over 20 years old and is now being upgraded. The risk of vertical fire spreading through ductwork has been eliminated.
Fans running backwards
A small residential building in Parramatta signed off for over 17 years by the incumbent mechanical contractor was checked by our team for compliance. Our technician found that the car park exhaust fan was in fact running backwards.
The situation was easily fixed and the fans are now operating safely. Unfortunately oversights like this are being seen on a daily basis, where inherent safety systems that play an essential role in mitigating fire, have been subverted by negligence.
These extremely dangerous defects are all too common – Stairwell Pressurisation Systems
Pressurising systems are second only to full sprinkler protection in the hierarchy of real-life fire safety measures. When occupants can get to a fire-isolated stairwell with lots of breathable fresh air, they are safe. That’s what is meant to happen. We are regularly finding Stairwell Pressurisation Systems sometimes up to 50% undersized from original design.
The Control Interface in some systems is managed so badly, that stairwells are actually pressurised with smoke. This means that the stairwells could well be more toxic than the fire zone. This situation has been negligently signed off each year by unaccredited air conditioning contractors.
At Quill Essential Services we understand fire safety and risk, as well as the requirements of the NCC / BCA as well as AS1668.1 (1974 – 2015), AS 1682.1&2, AS 1670.7 and AS 1851 Section 12.
Awarded service contract for large apartment complex in Sydney
We’ve recently been awarded maintenance and certification works to cover mechanical air handling and fire dampers for a very large 1,200 apartment multi residential site in Sydney. The Strata Manager had received multiple confusing reports and pricing from contractors and consulting engineers. They were advised by the incumbent fire contractor to “Just Let Quill Look at It”.
We were able to offer clarity and come in with a competitive quote that provided a best fit for the development.
A great vote of confidence for our team!
New business for Quill Essential – Passive Fire Protection
We are FPAS approved for Lightweight Construction and Fire Seals protecting openings in fire resisting components. We actually started doing passive works in a small way back in 2010 and have now decided to start a new division to fill the growing demand. Our new client is significant in Health Care and we are in the process of documenting assets and penetrations using comprehensive FireMate software. This job, along with several large multi residential upgrades, shows a bright and rewarding future for Quill Essential.
As FPAS approved Fire Safety Assessors Quill Essential is seeing a marked uptake in consultation and use of our professional services, particularly in the area of fire safety for apartment buildings for:
- Fire Seal protecting openings in fire resistant components
- Light weight construction
- Access panels doors and hopper to fire resistant shafts
What is passive fire protection?
Passive fire protection systems are designed to contain flames in certain parts of a building. This prevents the spread of flames from room to room and floor to floor. Just as importantly, passive protection stops smoke and other toxins from spreading throughout the building, which can be just as damaging as fire.
- Structural fire protection: Protects key structural components such as steel and joint systems. It is typically achieved by fireproofing with a substance that is flame retardant.
- Compartmentalisation: Barriers that prevent the spread of flames. These partitions can include everything from fire-rated walls through to dedicated smoke and flame barriers.
- Firestopping: Perhaps the greatest risk in terms of a fire spreading is small flaws, or penetrations in a fire barrier. These may have been left by a contractor such as an electrician or plumber, and if not protected with a passive firestop product, these gaps can undermine the entire system.
Our passive fire protection team can help with inspections reports and certification of all of the above. Call us now on 1300 782 761
Fire and Smoke Control Specialists
49 Frenchs Forest Road
Frenchs Forest NSW 2086
Phone: 1300 782 761