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VBA funds fire safety system research

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The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) is supporting Deakin University research aimed at better understanding defects in “passive” fire safety systems in apartment buildings.

Passive safety elements built into the structure and fixtures of a building include fire isolated stairways, fire-rated walls and separating floors, self-closing fire or smoke doors, door smoke seals and appropriate exit widths.

Led by Nicole Johnston, the new research aims to provide improved understanding of the nature and extent of passive fire safety defects and the rectification costs associated with remedying them. It will also review the regulatory system to identify any gaps and recommend reforms and solutions to mitigate defects.

Dr Johnston says previous research found defects in fire protection systems were the second most common type of defect in residential construction.

“Of note was the finding that due to the concealment of some passive fire elements from view, such as the inclusion of appropriate fire separation barriers, it is highly likely that passive fire defects were under-reported in the research,” she said.

The grant - the first successful research grant application funded by the VBA out of a total of 56 submissions from across Australia - is funded through the state building regulator’s inaugural research grant program, which backs universities and TAFEs to find new and innovative solutions to challenges in the Victorian building and plumbing sector.

The research program helps the VBA better understand consumer needs and how regulations can be shaped to improve public safety.