Alternative ways of complying with a Council Fire Safety Order

How fire engineering can be used on existing buildings

Overview – Building

  • Mixed – use building in Sydney, Australia
  • Class 6 (retail) and 5 (office)
  • Type B Construction
  • Built in 1970s


  • The owner of the building received a Fire Safety Order form local Council.
  • Among items relating to fire protection equipment, exit signage and housekeeping, Council recommended to install a wall sprinkler system or a fire shutter to external windows that were too close to the property boundary.
  • The rectification works were deemed too expensive and the need for maintenance unacceptable to the building owner.


The building owner engaged CJK Fire & Safety to inspect the premises and assist in satisfying Council’s requirements.

Our engineers assisted in providing a response to Council’s by composing a letter identifying items listed within the Fire Safety Order that will be completed as requested and others, for which alternative means of compliance were proposed. Three items form the defects’ list could be deleted providing evidence and justification to Council on why those items were considered compliant.

In relation to the external opening that was deemed non-compliant, CJK outlined options to the client including reduction of the window size to reduce the radiant heat flow. On consultation with the client and the responsible Council representative, a fire engineered solution was prepared involving a radiant heat assessment using zone modelling to identify the maximum permissible window size so that the risk of fire spread is reduced.

The reduction of the window was the client’s choice out of all options as it allowed him to eliminate ongoing maintenance costs for the window protection and created additional wall space for the office.

The solution was successfully presented to Council and all rectification works were completed before the due dates outlined in the Fire Safety Order. For the project to run so successful, good communication between stakeholders was the key.


This is one example of a successfully completed upgrade to an old building that was identified as defective under the current legislation. It not only demonstrated that good communication and stakeholder consultation is crucial on a project, but saved the building owner money and time so that there were no business interruptions and the office could be used during upgrade works.

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