As you may be aware, in 2018, the exemption clause that applied to awnings and blinds relating to fire regulations in the National Construction Code (NCC) was deleted. This means that technically any blind or awning fitted to any building upper floor does not comply.
Update and Summary on the NCC and Fire Regulations
What you may not be aware of is that the Blind Manufacturers’ Association of Australia (BMAA) have spent the past three years working with relevant stakeholders for the purpose of restoring the original exemption. This has included:
- In 2019, BMAA commissioned Ignis Consulting to undertake full scale fire tests (to AS 5113) on externally mounted blinds of PVC mesh, Awnings made from Acrylic, and Polyurethane shutters.
- The tests showed that these materials do not constitute a significant Spread of Flame risk, and had insufficient mass to contribute any detectable fuel load to the overall conflagration.
- As a result, the Fire Engineer Benjamin Hughes-Brown recommended that the AS 1530 part II and III test results be used to assess the fire risk of these materials, rather than the current ‘non-combustible’ standard.
- Based on this technical advice, the BMAA lodged in early March a formal “Proposal for Change” to the Australian Building Codes Board, which is revamping the current NCC for reintroduction next year. The BMAA, and sister Associations the STA and LSAA will continue to lobby to have the exemption restored.
- The submission may not be accepted, even with the overwhelming evidence contained within it that Awnings and Blinds are not fire hazards, and of the significant and unnecessary economic cost to the industry. Aware of this possibility, the BMAA has developed an alternative approach to achieve compliance. Although costly and time consuming, the so called “Performance Solution” template can be used to satisfy Certifiers and Body Corporates that the fire risk is ameliorated.
For more information contact BMAA’s Executive Officer Lynn Potesil