What does the new NCC Clause A2.2(4) mean for your building’s fire safety engineering design?
What does the new NCC Clause A2.2(4) mean for your building’s fire safety engineering design?

In Australia in February 2018, the Building Confidence Report was released. The report highlighted the lack of clear guidance for performance solutions in the existing National Construction Code (NCC). Processes and documents were often subject to practitioners’ own interpretations, resulting in inconsistencies in formats and standards.

The Building Confidence Report provided a series of recommendations for the building and construction industry across Australia to further improve the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems, and to improve overall confidence in building design.

The recommendations supported consistency, quality and transparency improvements in performance solutions, and resulted in the Australian Building Codes Board introducing Clause A2.2(4) to the National Construction Code (NCC 2019).

This clause, which came into effect on 1 July 2021, has particular impacts for fire safety engineering design.

What is the focus of Clause A2.2(4)?

Clause A2.2(4) has been added to NCC 2019 Volume One, Amendment 1, and formally stipulates the steps to be undertaken for performance solutions:

  • prepare a performance based design brief (PBDB).
  • carry out analysis in accordance with the methodology proposed in the PBDB.
  • evaluate the outcomes of analysis against the acceptance criteria agreed in the PBDB.
  • prepare a final report that details all steps and confirms that the relevant performance requirements have been met, as well as any limitations applicable.

Let’s take a look at what’s required in each of these steps.

Prepare a Performance Based Design Brief (PBDB)

As indicated above, a Performance Based Design Brief (PBDB) must now be prepared as the first step in the development of a performance solution. This effectively replaces the Fire Engineering Brief (FEB) commonly prepared for the performance solution process in the past, under the International Fire Engineering Guidelines (IFEG 2005).

The objective of the PBDB is to identify all critical activities and outcomes of the performance-based design process, ensuring transparency and giving all project stakeholders the opportunity to raise any concerns.

The scope and process of a PBDB is summarised in this flowchart from ABCB’s Guidance Document for the Performance Solution Process.

Carrying out analysis

Once the PBDB is signed off by all project stakeholders, the agreed methods of assessment and verification for the performance solutions can be carried out.

The analysis must conform to the PBDB. In the event that the initial outcomes do not meet the agreed acceptance criteria previously documented in the PBDB, modifications can be made but they must be captured and approved.

This process is summarised below in an extract from ABCB’s guidance document:


Evaluate outcomes of analysis

The results from the analyses are then collated and evaluated against the agreed acceptance criteria, as summarised in the flowchart below.

As mentioned above, re-evaluation and modifications may be required during the process until a satisfactory outcome is achieved and documented.

Preparing the final report

Details of the fire engineering analyses and outcomes are then included in detail in the final report. The final report must be able to demonstrate compliance of each performance solution with the relevant performance solution of the NCC, and should have a thorough quality assurance check.

Can you incorporate this clause into your existing fire engineering design process?

Clause A2.2(4) of the NCC officially came into effect on 1 July 2021.

While the new clause does mean you need to conform to a set process to help improve minimum industry standards, it still provides scope to adapt performance based delivery to your own existing processes.

Our fire safety engineering team at DMA Engineers have already worked with a number of clients to complete PBDB’s in accordance with the new requirement. If you’ve got questions about clause A2.2(4), or would like assistance preparing a PBDB for your next building project, get in touch with our fire safety engineering team today by contacting Koroush Keshavarz on koroush.keshavarz@dmaengineers.com.au


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