1962 fire design rules?

HI Everyone,

I’ve been asked by a client to assess how well a c.1962 building complied “at the time of construction”. I see the first edition of NZS 1900 was dated 1963 and the title page states “superseding NZSS 95 part VII”… any fire engineers with more experience than myself out there who assist? I can’t find this standard on the Standards website anywhere.

Thanks in advance

Fire protection for most building stock was based on complaince with council ‘construction bylaws’ right up 1992 when the Building Act 1991 took effect. The only way to be certain would be to locate the particular council bylaws at the time the building was constructed.

Some additional history:

  • Crown exemption applied to most government and council owned buildings. Crown exemption under previous legislation was much wider than the current crown exemption. Hence councils will generally have no records for old school buildings, old state housing, and other crown exempted buildings.
  • There were several model fire codes/standards used around the country but there was no requirement for councils to adopt any particular standard.
  • Not all councils adopted NZS 1900:Ch5 in 1964. Most adopted it over the years although some apparently never did. Not all councils adopted all its amendments and some adopted the NZ 1900:ch5 with changes or exclusions.
    So, even for post 1964 buildings checking only against NZS 1900:ch 5 may not be completely correct but it’s probably the closest you will get as old council bylaws are generally not available.
    Uniformity of standards was one of the reasons the NZBC was introduced as each council had different standards and bylaws.
    This probably doesn’t help much unless you can locate the council bylaws.

That’s a big help thanks Frank, will have to explain all this to our client. I did manage to find NZSS 95 on the government archives website, but as you explain, this may be pointless to obtain anyway.

Another option could be just to check what the council permit plans required (assuming there are record plans) ?

Hi Rob
NZSS 90 was essentially a guide for Councils to base their fire safety policies on. It did not work very well, and the Ballantynes fire was the driver to cause NZS 1900 Chapter 5 to be formed in 1963. Even if you can find specific details as to the Council requirements at the time, they will be peculiar to the actual Council, as the bylaw process was all that existed - as per Frank’s comments. As the building must be 50+ years of age, compliance doesn’t exist ie the building has exceeded its expected life. No, I do not have a copy, but from memory it was a very slim document. If you are lucky, Michael Simpson may have one, or you could try the FENZ library.
Paul C.