Specification E1.8 Fire control centres
This Specification describes the construction and content of required fire control centres and rooms. A fire control room is a fire control centre in a dedicated room with additional specific requirements. Clauses 2 to 5 apply to fire control centres (including fire control rooms). Clauses 6 to 12 apply additional requirements to fire control rooms.
To clarify that Specification E1.8 provides the construction and content details for fire control centres and rooms.
Specification E1.8 sets out the construction and content details for fire control centres and rooms required by the BCA.
A fire control room is a fire control centre in a dedicated room with specific requirements. See Clause 6 which requires that where a fire control centre is in a building of more than 50 metres in effective height, the centre must be in a separate room. Clauses 2 to 5 of Specification E1.8 set out the requirements for fire control centres (including fire control rooms) while Clauses 6 to 12 set out additional requirements for fire control centres which are required to be located in a dedicated room, which is commonly referred to as a fire control room.
2. Purpose and content
A fire control centre must—
provide an area from which fire-fighting operations or other emergency procedures can be directed or controlled; and
contain controls, panels, telephones, furniture, equipment and the like associated with the required fire services in the building; and
not be used for any purpose other than the control of—
fire-fighting activities; and
other measures concerning the occupant safety or security.
To clarify the facilities a fire control centre must contain.
E1.8 sets out when a fire control centre is required in a building.
Clause 2 sets out that a fire control centre must be for the exclusive purpose of:
- directing firefighting operations and other functions of the fire brigade, such as search and rescue operations (this requirement reflects the importance placed on fire brigade operations); and
- other measures directly relating to occupant safety or security.
In this context, the centre or room cannot be used for any other purpose.
3. Location of fire control centre
A fire control centre must be so located in a building that egress from any part of its floor, to a road or open space, does not involve changes in level which in aggregate exceed 300 mm.
To require that a fire control centre be conveniently placed to allow egress.
Egress from the fire control centre must not involve a change in level exceeding 300 mm. This is to help fire brigade officers carrying their equipment and make entry easy.
4. Equipment not permitted within a fire control centre
An internal combustion engine, pumps, sprinkler control valves, pipes and pipe fittings must not be located in a fire control centre, but may be located in rooms accessed through the fire control centre.
To limit the type of equipment allowed in a fire control centre.
Since the fire control centre will be occupied by fire brigade personnel during a fire, possibly for a period long after the other occupants have evacuated, it must be suitable for directing fire brigade operations. Equipment which does not assist in this function, or could endanger the fire brigade personnel, is not allowed in the centre.
5. Ambient sound level for a fire control centre
The ambient sound level within the fire control centre measured when all fire safety equipment is operating in the manner in which it operates in an emergency must not exceed 65 dB(A).
The measurement must be taken for a sufficient time to characterize the effects of all sound sources. Where there is not a great variation in noise level, a measurement time of 60 seconds may be used.
To minimise the risk of the sound levels in a fire control centre interfering with the room’s function.
The fire control centre is used to direct fire brigade operations during a fire in the building, possibly for a period long after the other occupants have evacuated. This involves communication with other fire brigade officers outside the centre. It is therefore important that ambient sound levels do not interfere with that communication.
6. Construction of a fire control room
A fire control centre in a building more than 50 m in effective height must be in a separate room where—
the enclosing construction is of concrete, masonry or the like, sufficiently impact resistant to withstand the impact of any likely falling debris, and with an FRL of not less than 120/120/120; and
any material used as a finish, surface, lining or the like within the room complies with the requirements of Specification C1.10; and
services, pipes, ducts and the like that are not directly required for the proper functioning of the fire control room do not pass through it; and
openings in the walls, floors or ceiling which separate the room from the interior of the building are confined to doorways, ventilation and other openings for services necessary for the proper functioning of the facility.
To set out the construction details of fire control rooms.
E1.8 requires certain buildings to contain a fire control centre. Clause 6 only applies to those buildings with an effective height greater than 50 metres. In these buildings, a fire control centre must be within a dedicated room known as a fire control room. Since the fire control room will be occupied by fire brigade personnel during a fire in the building, it must be fire separated from the remainder of the building.
7. Protection of openings in a fire control room
Openings permitted by Clause 6 must be protected as follows:
Openings for windows, doorways, ventilation, service pipes, conduits and the like, in an external wall of the building that faces a road or open space, must be protected in accordance with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions of Part C3.
Openings in the floors, ceilings and internal walls enclosing a fire control room must, except for doorways, be protected in accordance with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions of Part C3.
A door opening in the internal walls enclosing a fire-control room, must be fitted with a self-closing –/120/30 smoke sealed fire door.
Openings associated with natural or mechanical ventilation must—
not be made in any ceiling or floor immediately above or below the fire control room; and
be protected by a –/120/– fire damper if the opening is for a duct through a wall required to have an FRL, other than an external wall.
8. Doors to a fire control room
Required doors to a fire control room must open into the room, be lockable and located so that persons using escape routes from the building will not obstruct or hinder access to the room.
The fire control room must be accessible via two paths of travel—
one from the front entrance of the building; and
one direct from a public place or fire-isolated passageway which leads to a public place and has a door with an FRL of not less than –/120/30.
To require adequate access to a fire control room.
Refer to comment on Clause 1.
The main provisions deal with access to the fire control room. Since it will be necessary for the fire brigade to gain access to the fire control room while the building is being evacuated, access to it must not be obstructed by people evacuating.
Providing access by way of two paths of travel is to help fire brigade access. One of those paths must be from the front entrance of the building, and the other must be from a public place or a fire-isolated passage which leads from a public place.
9. Size and contents of a fire control room
A fire control room must contain—
a telephone directly connected to an external telephone exchange; and
a blackboard or whiteboard not less than 1200 mm wide x 1000 mm high; and
a pin-up board not less than 1200 mm wide x 1000 mm high; and
a raked plan layout table of a size suitable for laying out the plans provided under (vi); and
colour-coded, durable, tactical fire plans.
In addition, a fire control room may contain—
master emergency control panels, lift annunciator panels, remote switching controls for gas or electrical supplies and emergency generator backup; and
building security, surveillance and management systems if they are completely segregated from all other systems.
A fire control room must—
have a floor area of not less than 10 m2 and the length of any internal side must be not less than 2.5 m; and
if only the minimum prescribed equipment is installed — have a net floor area of not less than 8 m2 with a clear space of not less than 1.5 m2 in front of the Fire Indicator Panel; and
if additional equipment is installed — have an additional area of not less than 2 m2 net floor area for each additional facility and a clear space of not less than 1.5 m2 in front of each additional control or indicator panel,
and the area required for any path of travel through the room to other areas must be provided in addition to the requirements (ii) and (iii).
To set out the contents required in a fire control room.
Refer to comment on Clause 1.
Clause 9(a) sets out the minimum size and contents required in a fire control room.
Clause 9(b) lists additional items which may be contained in a fire control room. This list is not exhaustive, other items may be added provided the floor area of the room is increased, as required by Clause 9(c).
Clause 9(c) sets out the area requirements for fire control rooms.
10. Ventilation and power supply for a fire control room
A fire control room must be ventilated by—
natural ventilation from a window or doorway in an external wall of the building which opens directly into the fire control room from a road or open space; or
a pressurisation system that only serves the fire control room, and—
is installed in accordance with AS 1668.1 as though the room is a fire-isolated stairway; and
is activated automatically by operation of the fire alarm, or sprinkler system complying with Specification E1.5, installed in the building and manually by an over-riding control in the room; and
provides a flow of fresh air through the room of not less than 30 air changes per hour when the system is operating and any door to the room is open; and
has fans, motors and ductwork that form part of the system but not contained within the fire control room protected by enclosing construction with an FRL of not less than 120/120/120; and
has any electrical supply to the fire control room or equipment necessary for its operation connected to the supply side of the main disconnection switch for the building,
and no openable devices other than necessary doorways, pressure controlled relief louvres and windows that are openable by a key, must be constructed in the fire control room.
To reduce the likelihood of smoke accumulating in a fire control room.
Refer to comment on Clause 1.
Since the fire control room will be occupied by fire brigade personnel, possibly for a period long after the other occupants have evacuated, it must have adequate means of preventing the accumulation of smoke. The room can have either natural ventilation complying with Clause 10(a) or a pressurisation system complying with Clause 10(b).
If natural ventilation is used, then the window or door must not open to another part of the building.
If a pressurisation system is used, it must comply with AS 1668.1 and the other provisions of Clause 10(b). This is achieved by treating the room similarly to a fire-isolated stairway, which includes:
- activation of the system;
- air change rates;
- protection of fans, motors and duct work;
- protection of the electrical supply to the system; and
- relief air devices.
11. Sign for a fire control room
The external face of the door to the fire control room must have a sign with the words—
FIRE CONTROL ROOM
in letters of not less than 50 mm high and of a colour which contrasts with that of the background.
12. Lighting for a fire control room
Emergency lighting in accordance with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions of Part E4 must be provided in a fire control room, except that an illumination level of not less than 400 lux must be maintained at the surface of the plan table.
To provide sufficient illumination to the fire control room during an emergency.
Refer to comment on Clause 1.
Since the fire control room will be occupied by fire brigade personnel during a fire in the building, possibly for a period long after the other occupants have evacuated, it must have appropriate levels of lighting. As the lighting must be maintained while the room is in use, it must be emergency lighting in case of failure of the building’s normal lighting system.
Normally, emergency lighting is only used for evacuation purposes. A fire control room is used to direct fire brigade operations, which will include such actions as reference to building plans, and the reading of other information. The amount of emergency lighting in the room must therefore be increased to 400 lux.