Auckland Council passive fire policy

For those who weren’t aware of it, since it was launched without fanfare (or consultation), Auckland Council has a new policy on passive fire protection - 1825 - passive fire policy
I suggest every one reads it, as there are some good parts long overdue, and also significant issues for engineers including:

  • The illegal requirements for specification that products must be listed on the commercial FPANZ register, even if they meet the deemed to comply standards, contrary to the building act.
  • A PS4 is required from fire engineers defacto although you can call it whatever you want. Fire designers who can’t do inspections or may not be experts in passive fire inspections aren’t mentioned.
  • Requirement 3rd party inspections. There is no guidance for who is suitable or acceptable or even limitations such as ISO17020 accreditation or insurance. I suggest ISO17020 accreditation, suitable qualifications and experience and auditing from IANZ as per fire alarm and sprinkler inspectors should be a minimum if you or a Council are to have reasonable grounds to rely on them,especially given the poor quality passive fire stopping issues endemic in the industry. You don’t want to have to rely on the same skill set for your inspections… Several million dollars of insurance is a must as well, although that is of limited value if the inspection company is rinsed down the track to continue with a different name when you need them but you need to back to back your insurance with theirs if you are relying on them.

Guidance on a minimum number of items to be checked is given and note that these checks are intrusive. It is not stated, but they appear to be from the ASTM standard for passive fire inspections (ASTM E2393-10A-2015 - inspection of Installed Fire Resistive Joint Systems and perimeter fire barriers and ASTM 2174 - On-Site Inspection of Installed Firestops). Note that as an engineer, this may not be enough on a risk basis if things get rough to give you reasonable grounds against a false pass in some cases. Look at ISO2859 series (especially part 4 and supporting documents) as one guide for a statistical basis. They are heavy reading and can be hard to apply in practice.

Hi Geoff
I agree with your observations, this is going to cause a bit more stress and confusion on site. Again this has not come from MBIE as a guidance for the whole of NZ but from Akl Council for the “State of Auckland”!!! Now there will be an inconsistent approach to fire stopping around the country.

It appears to me that the Auckland council are supporting the use of the FPA passive register to smooth the whole selection, design, consent review and observation process for passive. I would have thought that this would make it easier for all involved and reduce stress on site.

I think it is great you can go to one place and look for the information rather than spending hours trolling through websites to find options.

As an elected member to the FPA council, I am also aware that the FPA is further developing this register with the intention of moving to a platform with searches and filters to provide selection options for the entered scenario.

I do agree that an independent third party inspector for passive, similar to sprinklers, would be great. Who is going into business?!

Nicky Marshall

1 Like

“Any Alternative Solutions or ‘Engineering Judgements’ need to be fully supported by the product
manufacturer/test sponsor given the proposed circumstances representative of their use in service. This
is to include the respective durability and warranty requirements for the product.”

There are situations where this will come up and there is no solution, with no one to support the fire sealing. This is going to get really expensive and create massive delays.

I will watch with interest as problems start, including the lack of resources to carry out the work. Can the contractors make this work? Does Auckland Council expose itself to liability by intentionally violating Section 18 of the Building Act?

Edit: To clarify my skepticism: what I am finding locally is that the contractors capable of carrying out appropriate passive fire work they are already pushed to capacity. Of those trying to comply they do suffer the costs but save themselves problems later on.

However it is the work that is not declared and no attempt to provide any fire sealing that is the real problem, along with engineers operating outside of their area of expertise providing PS4’s for seriously defective work. I do not believe that this policy will make the problematic work go away because they are not attempting to comply in the first place.

My recollection from the FPA launch of the passive fire register was that if a product was on the register then the supplier had committed to making the test results freely available to anyone wanting to use the product. It was still incumbent on the fire stopping specifiers to read the test reports to make sure they were using the product in accordance with the test reports.

When it came to consenting products and systems, those on the register would get an easier ride through the process but didn’t preclude the use of any other product or systems provided the appropriate test results were supplied.

FPA have been successfully running the fire alarm equipment and sprinkler system equipment registers on a similar basis for many years for the benefit of all in the industry.

As Geoff has pointed out in his first post, there are some good points in the policy. Lets not throw the baby out with the bath water but seek to make it a better policy that could be applied nationally if need be.

1 Like

I will be interested to see if the contractors actually read documentation. Will a policy change by Auckland Council make contractors read more?

Will this policy make mechanical contractors install fire dampers in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions?

Passive fire work is a more complex issue than fire alarm and sprinkler installation.

Hi all
Has AC not heard of FM Global? They have some hundreds of fire stopping products on their web site, none of which (to the best of my knowledge) have ever been given equivalency to AS 4072:1 or AS 1530:4. I would much rather trust the internationally accepted FM Global documentation for fire stops than some local system that may/may not be applicable to the particular installation. I can think of a low temperature fire wall construction of sandwich panel/small gap/concrete fire wall/small gap/sandwich panel where the fire resistance was required to be maintained, at the same time as the 200mm steel pipes were not allowed to sweat from the condensation. FM Global has such an approved product, but imagine trying to get it through the AC process.
Does AC believe that internationally recognised fire testing standards are inferior to a local standard - that is based upon BS 476?
Paul C