Fire Australia 2021: Day Three Program Highlights

Posted on : Friday, 14 May 2021

The final day of Fire Australia 2021 was shorter than the other two, because of the Conference tours in the afternoon.  Delegates were treated to discussions covering risks to fire fighters, the culture of fire engineering, residential sprinklers, cladding, and the NSW Design and Building Practitioners Act.  



Session 1 ...


… was led by Assistant Commissioner Trent Curtain of Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW), who described how the fire brigades navigate complexity.  Fire fighters have to deal with complicated buildings and systems in stressful conditions, and are trained to respond as best they can to all eventualities.  However, Trent advised attendees that:  


"firefighters ... are assuming the building is safe.  They assume the fire protection systems [in the building] are installed properly and maintained properly. Their lives depend on it."  


The second presentation of the morning was from former FPA Australia President and Fellow of Arup, Peter Johnson, who has been closely involved in the Warren Centre research discussed on day two.  Peter observed that the way fire safety engineers operate needs to adapt to suit modern buildings, and provided some insights into how this should be done.  He said that:  


"In changing the culture of fire engineering they must take more responsibility for things they can control.  The different building construction parties must work together and not in their own silos."  



Policy Stream


The policy stream started with a presentation from Assistant Commissioner Mark Whybro  from FRNSW, who is a member of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC).  He discussed the latest work of the Coalition and described how it is being applied to deliver safer residences for the community.  Mark explained that HFSC advocates for the installation of residential sprinklers.  Future research will focus on developing cost-effective sprinkler systems for domestic housing and for bushfire prevention.   


The final session of the policy stream was from Angus Abadee of the Department of Customer Service, who detailed the NSW Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020  and explained how it will affect the fire protection sector.  Angus commented that fire systems designers will need to be registered in order to declare designs, and argued that there are two important principles to the Act:  


  1. registered practitioners have an additional duty of care to declare that a Class 2 building is compliant with the Building Code of Australia; and

  2. practitioners will not be able to make a declaration without being registered.  


The Act will apply to all class 2 buildings being constructed after 1 July, 2021 . 



Cladding Stream


Although only one topic, the second stream focused on cladding.  Nathan White  of CSIRO described how cladding is assessed and tested, and how it is approved for use.  He outlined what testing laboratories expect to see and the vast array of equipment and tests that are used to determine performance.  


Nathan advised that practitioners shouldn't assume that samples that are the same colour are the same, as many types of material with different properties can look the same.  He also gave the audience some sage advice when assessing cladding on a building:  


"Don't apply naked flames direct to cladding on buildings..."  



Technical Stream


The technical stream was taken up by a full workshop on the residential sprinkler systems FPAA 101D and 101H, looking at implications for hydraulics and electrical systems.  Shae Mete  of FPA Australia, David Isaac  of Fire and Safety Technologies, and Mark Cummings  of Eclipse Fire, went into great detail about the systems, how they are designed and installed, and what practitioners need to consider when designing them.   



After the sessions, attendees went to lunch or joined the tours.  


On behalf of the Board and staff of FPA Australia, we thank all delegates and exhibitors for participating in Fire Australia 2021 and hope to see them all again in 2022 in Melbourne.