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AS1851:2005 review - Twelve months on
The previous AS1851 comprised a suite of individual documents, parts 1 to 16 which have now been amalgamated into a single standard, AS1851-2005. Twelve months on, what have we learned?

AS1851:2012Australian Standard AS1851:2005, Maintenance of Fire Protection Systems and Equipment was overhauled and subsequently published 12-months ago, in September 2005. According to one consultant;

This standard aims to link the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance aspects of fire equipment to improve system reliability.

The previous AS1851 comprised a suite of individual documents, parts 1 to 16 which have now been amalgamated into a single standard, AS1851-2005. New sections included in this standard include: water mist systems, evacuation plans/procedures, fire monitoring systems and smoke alarms.

Twelve months on, and the uptake of these standards has been complimented through changes to various federal and state regulations and codes. Amendment 1 was also published in July 2006, with changes to 9 clauses and no less than 18 changes to tables throughout the entire document.

Summary of amendments:
Clauses: 1.15.3, 1.15.4.3, 2.1(a), 2.2.1.1, 3.2.1, 15.2.13, 17.4.3.1, 17.2.5.2 and 17.2.6

Tables: 1.9, 2.4.1.2, 2.4.2.2, 2.4.2.3, 2.4.2.4, 3.4.1.2, 3.4.2.1, 4.4.2, 6.4.1, 6.4.2, 7.4.2,
9.4.1, 9.4.2, 11.4.1, 11.4.2, 11.4.3, 15.4.2, 17.4.3.1.

With the flurry of activity, building owners, contractors and consultants have been cautious in their adoption the standard, most still unaware of how these changes will affect their businesses.

Firewize also has taken a softly-softly approach to the application of the standard with much of our effort invested into educating our team on the changes and the review of our existing systems and processors to facilitate these changes.

whitepaper by the Fire Protection Association of Australia (FPAA) provided further background on the legal application of the standard, stating;

This new Australian Standard must be considered to be the most recent benchmark for maintenance of Fire Safety Protection Systems and Equipment. As such the building owner, building occupier and essential service provider must determine whether by not adopting the new standard they may be considered to be negligent.

Now that 12 months has passed, and the regulatory framework has almost caught up, we have started to work with existing customers to migrate to AS1851:2005. The most common approach taken by building owners and agents so far is to adopt the new standard but maintain the existing weekly inspection regime for Sprinklers and Pumpsets.

There has also been considerable discussion as to the cost to migrate to the new standard, both in capital expenditure and ongoing maintenance. From our experience building owners should expect to and budget for modifications to their fire safety systems.

From an ongoing maintenance perspective, building owners should also budget for an increase in annual inspection and testing fees ranging from 7% to 18% depending on the size and extent of their safety measures.

Other factors affecting the cost to migrate include the age, size and complexity of the systems and equipment. One thing that migration will highlight is the practices of some contractors who may have been performing the inspection and testing to a lessor standard to what is actually required for the building.

The new requirement for annual survey will also be a factor in the ongoing costs, which are new to this standard. The intent of this survey is to;

be conducted visually from floor level and is intended to identify changes to the specific system or the building and its environment which would impair the performance of the system.

It is anticipated that the annual survey will be conducted during the annual systems interface test that;

includes the requirement to annually test all aspects of system interconnection; for example detection and alarm systems with atrium smoke exhaust plant, alarm systems with stair pressurisation, automatic fire sprinkler systems with HVAC fire mode operation and warning systems

If all of this isn't enough, there will be wide ranging changes to the logbooks and reporting systems that support the delivery of the new standard.

It is our opinion that we expect to see more building owners migrate to AS1851:2005 over the following 12 months, with building owners who seek industry best practice being at the forefront of change.

More information

If you would like more information about the changes in AS1851:2005 or to receive a copy of our FREE workbook titled Maintenance of Fire Safety Systems and Equipment simply contact the author.