Assessing Passive Fire Defects in Existing Buildings

January 15, 2017

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Ed Claridge (Auckland Council Principal Fire Engineer), Ron Green (Fire Group Consulting Passive Fire Specialist) and Michael James (Origin Fire Consultants Managing Director) presented together at the 2016 FireNZ Conference. The theme was “Assessing Passive Fire Defects in Existing Buildings”.

It was motivated by the problems building owners, consenting authorities and fire engineers have been having when apartment buildings are being re-clad and during the course of construction to re-clad the building, multiple defects in the passive fire rating are discovered.

Once construction has commenced there is little time to sit back and take a high-level view of the problem to determine the best strategy to solve the problem. As a result, building owners are often forced into very expensive solutions.

Ed, Ron and Mike propose an alternative approach that involves identifying the problems during the design phase and carrying out a risk-based assessment to determine how best to achieve compliance with the Building Code on an “as near as is reasonably practicable” basis, which can then be agreed with the consenting authority during the building consent process rather than waiting for the project to get on site.

Ed’s presentation focuses on a risk-based methodology and how it fits into the compliance framework of the Building Code. Ron’s presentation focuses on gathering the necessary information on the building defects to be able to carry out a meaningful risk assessment. Michael presents a case study putting the first two elements in practice.