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Fire Control Centre (or Room)

Specification E1.8 of Volume One of the National Construction Code ("NCC") sets out the requirements for the construction and content of required fire control centres and fire control rooms. A fire control room is a fire control centre in a dedicated room with additional specific requirements.

Researching and writing this article I learned that there is a difference between a fire control centre and a fire control room.  That said, a fire control room has all of the features of a fire control centre PLUS additional features described in Clauses 6 to 12 of Specification E1.8.

a fire control room is a fire control centre in a dedicated room with additional specific requirements. Clauses 2 to 5 apply to fire control centres (including fire control rooms). Clauses 6 to 12 apply additional requirements to fire control rooms.[fn]NCC 2019 Building Code of Australia - Volume One, Specification E1.8, Fire control centres, Clause 1[/fn]

To help convey the differences we have set out Specification E1.8 - Fire Control Centres in a table (below) with the requirements for Fire Control Centre and Fire Control Rooms.

Specification E1.8 - Fire Control Centres
NCC 2019 Building Code of Australia - Volume One
Clause Requirement Fire Control Centre Fire Control Room
Purpose and Content A fire control centre must—
  1. provide an area from which fire-fighting operations or other emergency procedures can be directed or controlled; and
  2. contain controls, panels, telephones, furniture, equipment and the like associated with the required fire services in the building; and
  3. not be used for any purpose other than the control of—
    1. fire-fighting activities; and
    2. other measures concerning the occupant safety or security.
Location of Fire Control Centre A fire control centre must be so located in a building that egress from any part of its floor, to a road or open space, does not involve changes in level which in aggregate exceed 300 mm.
Equipment not permitted within a fire control centre An internal combustion engine, pumps, sprinkler control valves, pipes and pipe fittings must not be located in a fire control centre, but may be located in rooms accessed through the fire control centre.
Ambient sound level for a fire control centre
  1. The ambient sound level within the fire control centre measured when all fire safety equipment is operating in the manner in which it operates in an emergency must not exceed 65 dB(A).
  2. The measurement must be taken for a sufficient time to characterize the effects of all sound sources. Where there is not a great variation in noise level, a measurement time of 60 seconds may be used.
Construction of a fire control room A fire control centre in a building more than 50 m in effective height must be in a separate room where—
  1. the enclosing construction is of concrete, masonry or the like, sufficiently impact resistant to withstand the impact of any likely falling debris, and with an FRL of not less than 120/120/120; and
  2. any material used as a finish, surface, lining or the like within the room complies with the requirements of Specification C1.10; and
  3. services, pipes, ducts and the like that are not directly required for the proper functioning of the fire control room do not pass through it; and
  4. openings in the walls, floors or ceiling which separate the room from the interior of the building are confined to doorways, ventilation and other openings for services necessary for the proper functioning of the facility.
Protection of openings in a fire control room

Openings permitted by Clause 6 must be protected as follows:

  1. (a) Openings for windows, doorways, ventilation, service pipes, conduits and the like, in an external wall of the building that faces a road or open space, must be protected in accordance with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions of Part C3.
  2. (b) Openings in the floors, ceilings and internal walls enclosing a fire control room must, except for doorways, be protected in accordance with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions of Part C3.
  3. (c) A door opening in the internal walls enclosing a fire-control room, must be fitted with a self-closing –/120/30 smoke sealed fire door.
  4. (d) Openings associated with natural or mechanical ventilation must—
    1. (i) not be made in any ceiling or floor immediately above or below the fire control room; and
    2. (ii) be protected by a –/120/– fire damper if the opening is for a duct through a wall required to have an FRL, other than an external wall.
Doors to a fire control room
  1. Required doors to a fire control room must open into the room, be lockable and located so that persons using escape routes from the building will not obstruct or hinder access to the room.
  2. The fire control room must be accessible via two paths of travel—
    1. (i) one from the front entrance of the building; and
    2. (ii) one direct from a public place or fire-isolated passageway which leads to a public place and has a door with an FRL of not less than –/120/30.
Size and contents of a fire control room
  1. A fire control room must contain—
    1. a Fire Indicator Panel and necessary control switches and visual status indication for all required fire pumps, smoke control fans and other required fire safety equipment installed in the building; and
    2. a telephone directly connected to an external telephone exchange; and
    3. a blackboard or whiteboard not less than 1200 mm wide x 1000 mm high; and
    4. a pin-up board not less than 1200 mm wide x 1000 mm high; and
    5. a raked plan layout table of a size suitable for laying out the plans provided under (vi); and
    6. colour-coded, durable, tactical fire plans.
  2. In addition, a fire control room may contain—
    1. master emergency control panels, lift annunciator panels, remote switching controls for gas or electrical supplies and emergency generator backup; and
    2. building security, surveillance and management systems if they are completely segregated from all other systems.
  3. A fire control room must—
    1. have a floor area of not less than 10 m2 and the length of any internal side must be not less than 2.5 m; and
    2. if only the minimum prescribed equipment is installed — have a net floor area of not less than 8 m2 with a clear space of not less than 1.5 m2 in front of the Fire Indicator Panel; and
    3. if additional equipment is installed — have an additional area of not less than 2 m2 net floor area for each additional facility and a clear space of not less than 1.5 m2 in front of each additional control or indicator panel, and the area required for any path of travel through the room to other areas must be provided in addition to the requirements (ii) and (iii).
Ventilation and power supply for a fire control room

A fire control room must be ventilated by—

  1. natural ventilation from a window or doorway in an external wall of the building which opens directly into the fire control room from a road or open space; or
  2. a pressurisation system that only serves the fire control room, and—
    1. is installed in accordance with AS 1668.1 as though the room is a fire-isolated stairway; and
    2. is activated automatically by operation of the fire alarm, or sprinkler system complying with Specification E1.5, installed in the building and manually by an over-riding control in the room; and
    3. provides a flow of fresh air through the room of not less than 30 air changes per hour when the system is operating and any door to the room is open; and
    4. has fans, motors and ductwork that form part of the system but not contained within the fire control room protected by enclosing construction with an FRL of not less than 120/120/120; and
    5. has any electrical supply to the fire control room or equipment necessary for its operation connected to the supply side of the main disconnection switch for the building,

    and no openable devices other than necessary doorways, pressure controlled relief louvres and windows that are openable by a key, must be constructed in the fire control room.

Sign for a fire control room

The external face of the door to the fire control room must have a sign with the words—


in letters of not less than 50 mm high and of a colour which contrasts with that of the background.

Lighting for a fire control room Emergency lighting in accordance with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions of Part E4 must be provided in a fire control room, except that an illumination level of not less than 400 lux must be maintained at the surface of the plan table. -




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