In an article on the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) website, the VBA supported Deakin University's research into defects in passive fire protection (PFP) systems in Victorian apartment buildings. The study aimed to identify regulatory gaps and recommend reforms to address these defects.
Dr. Nicole Johnston led the research, which utilised various approaches, including comparative jurisdictional analysis and semi-structured interviews with professionals.
The research found evidence suggesting a large number of Class 2 buildings in Victoria have passive fire safety defects, primarily due to improper penetrations of fire and smoke-rated walls.
Key causes of passive fire protection defects include lack of knowledge about passive fire safety, poor construction management practices, issues with testing and verification of passive fire protection systems, inadequate construction documentation, and building owners' reluctance to rectify issues.
To reduce passive fire protection defects, the research recommends increased practitioner education, licensing of passive fire safety practitioners, improved document access, testing and verification of passive fire protection systems, proactive quality assurance, and shared responsibility across practitioners.
The VBA has launched a communications campaign to raise awareness of improper service penetrations and shared the report with key regulators and stakeholders. Additionally, a Practice Note has been issued to provide guidance on service penetration installations in fire-rated and smoke-proof walls.