Fire safety regulatory framework

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Fire safety regulatory framework

The legislation around fire safety in the built environment includes requirements that relate to the design of the building itself as well as some that relate to the operation, maintenance and general use. Fire and Emergency New Zealand is a key stakeholder in respect to many of these requirements.

Design requirements are covered in the Building Code, Clauses C1 to C6. They relate to measures intended to prevent fires, ensuring adequate warning and egress provisions for occupants, providing safe access to firefighters and preventing fire spread both within and outside of the building.

The Building Act dictates the extent to which compliance with the Building Code is required, ranging from full compliance in the case of new designs to partial compliance primarily with requirements relating to means of escape in the case of existing buildings.
The responsibility for demonstrating that the design complies with the Building Code to the extent required by the Building Act rests with the Applicant (owner, occupier…) through a Building Consent Application. Compliance can be established by one of the following mechanisms:

  • Following a “deemed to satisfy” acceptable solution C/AS1 - 7.
  • Following the methodology outlined in the Verification Method C/VM2.
  • Developing an alternative solution to demonstrate compliance with the performance requirements of the Building Code.

Fire and Emergency is mandated to review certain consent applications, as outlined under Building consents.
For buildings under construction, the responsibility for fire safety rests with the contractor(s). However, in the case of an existing building where certain areas remain in operation, a Certificate of public use must be obtained from Council. Among other things, the applicant must demonstrate how the fire safety of occupants will be maintained during the works.

Once the building is operating, it is essential that fire safety systems are maintained and regularly tested. To that end, fire safety systems must be listed on the building compliance schedule which outlines the maintenance and testing regime.

Certain buildings, typically those that accommodate over 100 members of the public, or provide employment for over 10 people, are subject to additional requirements under the the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures, and Evacuation Schemes) Regulations 2018. This includes the requirement to prepare and maintain an evacuation scheme for the building. Evacuation schemes must be submitted to Fire and Emergency for approval.