Fire upgrade - Change of use

Fire upgrade through change of use refers to a change in a building’s use which will require upgrading to certain systems and elements (i.e. residential villa becomes a restaurant, a warehouse becomes an apartment). The Building Code requirements may differ from one type of use to another. The building owner must give the local authority due notice of the proposed change(s) to the use of the building, or extend the life of a building with a specified intended life. After inspections, the council may provide its advice and confirm if it is satisfied that the building in its new use complies with provisions in the Building Code relating to: means of escape from fire, protection of other property, sanitary facilities, structural performance, fire-rating performance access and facilities for people with disabilities. 

Fire upgrade - Alterations to existing buildings

Fire upgrade through alterations may trigger upgrade works for the whole building. These works might relate to means of escape from fire (egress), and access and facilities for people with disabilities (if relevant).  Notwithstanding the above, the building must continue to comply with the relevant Building Code just as it did before any alterations commenced. 

LAF offer a building owner the ability to upgrade ANY existing elements of construction inclusive of  old vermiculite spray, fire rated or non fire rated plasterboard, concrete, steel and composite elements, as well as advanced polymers. A FRL (Fire Resistance Level) upgrade requires careful and thorough assessment of the existing structure and conditions against compliance requirements. As an example, and when considering the FRL upgrade of Concrete elements the following considerations are vital: 

- Overall Concrete thickness;

- Concrete cover to the outer steel bars;

- Overall size of any structural elements (Beam/Column);

In fire affected buildings, the concrete may not readily exhibit any damage and it is advisable that specialist engineering advice be sought in these circumstances. Significant changes in concrete design strength (normally occurring at 300° C) result in subtle colour changes of the concrete aggregates. Texture and hardness changes are the superficial signs of temperature effects of concrete that has been significantly heated. Fire spraying over these areas is possible in order to reinstate the original Fire Resistance Levels. Mechanical reinforcement may need to be considered. 

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