Part E2 Smoke hazard management (Performance Requirements)
EP2.1 Automatic warning for sleeping occupants
EP2.1 only applies to a Class 2, 3, 9a or 9c building or Class 4 part of a building.
The Objective of this Part is to—
safeguard occupants from illness or injury by warning them of a fire so that they may safely evacuate; and
safeguard occupants from illness or injury while evacuating during a fire.
Safeguard occupants from illness and injury
Part E2 aims to safeguard building occupants from illness or injury from the products of combustion (including smoke and toxic gases). EO2(a) deals with warning of a fire and EO2(b) deals with requirements for evacuating.
Smoke and toxic gases kill
Smoke and toxic gases are the main causes of death in building fires. Such deaths have occurred in locations remote from the fire to where smoke and gases have spread. Smoke and toxic gases cause disorientation, incapacitation and ultimately death, depending on the concentration and length of exposure.
Management of the smoke and toxic gas hazard is crucial for occupant safety. This is best achieved through a combination of active and passive measures, such as:
- building materials and finishes;
- smoke and toxic gas detection;
- fire suppression; and
- smoke and toxic gas control by mechanical means.
Part E2 addresses some of the active measures which, together with the relevant provisions in other Parts of the BCA, provide appropriate strategies for the protection of occupants.
A building is to be provided with safeguards so that—
occupants are warned of a fire in the building so that they may safely evacuate; and
occupants have time to safely evacuate before the environment in any evacuation route becomes untenable from the effects of fire.
EF2.1 requires that a building have safeguards to warn occupants of a fire so they may safely evacuate before the conditions in any evacuation route become untenable, due to the effects of fire.
A Class 2, 3, 9a and 9c building and a Class 4 part must contain automatic warning on the detection of smoke for occupants in sleeping areas, so they may be alerted to a fire.
EP2.2 Safe evacuation routes
In the event of a fire in a building the conditions in any evacuation route must be maintained for the period of time occupants take to evacuate the part of the building so that—
the temperature will not endanger human life; and
the level of visibility will enable the evacuation route to be determined; and
the level of toxicity will not endanger human life.
The period of time occupants take to evacuate referred to in (a) must be appropriate to—
the number, mobility and other characteristics of the occupants; and
the function or use of the building; and
the travel distance and other characteristics of the building; and
the fire load; and
the potential fire intensity; and
the fire hazard; and
any active fire safety systems installed in the building; and
fire brigade intervention.
Occupants must be given time to evacuate before the onset of untenable conditions. EP2.2(a) specifies these conditions as dangerous temperatures, low visibility and dangerous levels of toxicity.
Hence, evacuation time must take account of a range of factors including the following:
- EP2.2(b)(i)—the difficulty of evacuation and/or rescue. An example is where there is a large number of occupants, or they are not mobile, such as patients in a hospital or residents of an elderly people’s home. Here the evacuation time could be high.
- EP2.2(b)(ii)—the likelihood or risk of a fire occurring in the building, which can have an influence on risk levels during evacuation and along the evacuation route.
- EP2.2(b)(iii)—the time necessary to travel to an exit, and the difficulty of evacuation and/or rescue.
- EP2.2(b)(iv), (v) and (vi)—the size, load or intensity of any fire in the building, which has a clear influence on the speed of fire development and spread, and heat and toxic gas characteristics.
- EP2.2(b)(vii)—the fire safety systems in the building can influence the rate of fire spread and intensity and toxic gas development (eg if a sprinkler system is installed, it should extinguish the fire or reduce its growth rate).
- EP2.2(b)(viii)—the firefighting operations of the fire brigade and the resources available to it, which influences the extent to which a fire can develop before the fire brigade is likely to bring it under control.
Under its Limitation provision, EP2.2 does not apply to open-deck carparks or open spectator stands where the smoke and hot gases can vent naturally, thereby allowing occupants to safely evacuate.