Governments to review fire regulations for multistory ECEC settings, ACA NSW says
The New South Wales Branch of the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) has advised its members that the Federal and State Governments have taken feedback about the proposed changes to the 2019 National Construction Code (NCC) with respect to Early Childhood Centres who operate in buildings with more than one storey on board.
ACA NSW initially raised concerns about proposed amendments to the Code, which, in their view “would and could negatively affect future and existing early childhood education and care (ECEC) services that operate in up to two-storey buildings who can easily evacuate all their children and staff within 4 minutes without the need for additional fire infrastructure (for example sprinklers and dedicated fire corridors).”
As a result of requests for consideration from ACA NSW, and other sources, Federal and State Ministers have agreed to instead “require a Performance Solution for ECEC services at upper levels of high-rise and multi-storey buildings and enshrine such this requirement in the NCC”, ACA NSW said.
Essentially, ACA NSW said, this measure would “appear to be no different to the existing practice of ECEC services proving to the authorities (typically local councils) that they are able to evacuate all children and staff from their services to the designated emergency assembly areas before their services can be approved to be built or allowed to operate.”
In the event that services are able to successfully demonstrate this, the ECEC services would, therefore, be deemed to satisfy the NCC, ACA NSW said, questioning the need for modifications to the Code.
In spite of the similarities, ACA NSW noted, the Federal and State Governments, through their Industry and Building Ministers, “believe there remains the need for amendments to existing rules and regulations about emergencies and evacuations for ECEC services in high-rise and multi-storey buildings.”
The amendments will be addressed by 1 July 2022 after appropriate consultation with education regulators (eg ACECQA and the state Regulatory Authorities) and effective input from the ECEC sector, ACA NSW said, vowing to “continue their engagement with a variety of sources in the interim, in order for effective and operationally sustainable solutions and outcomes to be realised in order to ensure all children and staff are protected, regardless of whether they are in standalone two-storey buildings or in a high-rise/multi-storey building.”
To read the statement in full, please see here.