Lifetime of a building

The following outlines ten main stages when considering the overall building life cycle in the context of fire safety. It should be noted that these stages may not apply to all buildings (for example, some buildings will never experience a fire). The involvement of Fire and Emergency New Zealand for each of these stages is outlined below.

Concept stage

This stage proposes an outline of the design and assesses the feasibility of the project to produce a preliminary design. The design options are reviewed and resolved. The building owner or developer identifies the necessary development resourcing for the building (including water supplies and roadway access for emergency vehicles), appointing the consultants and architect who fit this requirement. Fire and Emergency is involved in the following procedures in the concept stage.

  • Fire engineering brief – Fire Engineering Unit provides feedback on the proposed design methodology used for the building.
  • Firefighting facilities checklist – Provides feedback on the proposed facilities provided for firefighting purposes, such as access to the building, the location of the fire alarm panel and inlets to systems such as any sprinkler systems and internal hydrants. The preferred methodology to do this is via the completion of the Firefighting facilities checklist.

Design stage

This stage is the detailed development of the preliminary design concept which was produced in the concept stage. A Fire strategy report is drafted. Fire and Emergency NZ (operational staff) should be kept involved during the design development regarding any fire safety systems. Drawings and specifications are drafted.

Consent stage

This stage is the finalisation of all the construction documentation for the design. The Fire Engineering Unit is involved in the design review of the consent stage documentation to provide comment back to the Building Consent Authority (BCA) on the “means of escape” and facilities for firefighting provisions. It is not an overall evaluation of the performance of the fire engineering design. 

Construction stage

During the construction and fit-out phase of the project, the fire safety engineers may have to answer questions or resolve site issues related to construction or installation of systems. This may also include a level of construction monitoring in accordance with Engineering New Zealand guidelines.

Commissioning stage

In this stage, the fire safety systems installed must be tested to confirm that they operate as intended. The objective of commissioning tests is to ensure that all of the fire safety systems operate as intended by the fire design. Fire and Emergency is usually not involved in this stage, except occasionally as observers if requested by the design team.

Occupation stage

During the occupation phase the building tenants move in and set up the emergency management procedures that are to be used in the event of a fire emergency. Successful building fire safety relies on the combination of good design and good management to be effective and getting both of these elements sorted before a fire incident. In this stage, Fire and Emergency reviews and may approve the evacuation scheme. This may include ensuring that “internal place of safety” meets the requirements of a ‘Place of Safety’. We also follow up on unwanted (false) alarms and the management of those.

Pre-incident planning

This stage is for firefighters to have a clear understanding of how the building will operate, where all the firefighting resources (including water supply) are located and what hazards are present in the building. In this stage, Fire and Emergency gathers and reviews data on the building to input into a site plan or a tactical plan for larger, higher risk facilities such as major hazard facilities.

Fire

Fire and Emergency  responds to incidents and investigates the fire scene to determine the fire origin and cause. The Fire Engineering Unit may be involved where a fire safety system did not perform as intended or the fire did not behave in the expected manner. Post incident analysis may be undertaken to identify the causes of these unusual events. See Post Incident Analysis (PIA) for more details. 

Refurbishment

Most buildings will be subject to alterations, refurbishments, and sometimes a change of use. This may result in the building going back to the concept stage as the new layout is developed. Many of the fire safety systems may not be affected. However, there could be upgrades of the systems. Usually works relating to, alterations or change of use will require consent, in which case the steps described above will apply (including Fire engineering brief or Design review, if relevant). Additional requirements may apply for buildings that undergo partial refurbishment, if other parts of the building remain in use.

Decommissioning and demolition

Fire and Emergency  is typically not involved in this stage.