Legislation Updates

Fire compliance changes for soffit insulation

Insulation Australasia has circulated a statement alerting the industry to changes around fire compliance for soffit insulation in the new National Construction Code (NCC), adopted on May 1.

“Soffit insulation manufacturers and building practitioners are alerted to the end of the concession period for acceptable demonstration of group numbers for building linings as required by the National Construction Code of Australia (NCC),” says the statement. “This affects soffit insulation that is exposed to the space below, as it is then also effectively a building lining.”

Group numbers are now to be determined under AS 5637.1. This states that when a product or material is to be tested in the AS ISO 9705 test room for the purposes of determining a group number it must be tested with the product or material installed in the ceiling and three walls of the test room. Even though soffit insulation is generally in the ceiling only, a group number cannot be determined in accordance with AS 5637.1.

NCC 2016 contained an exception for group numbers from earlier testing regimes. With the adoption of NCC 2019, that exception ceases.

It is now inappropriate and nonconforming for manufacturers to supply product into a soffit insulation application without the appropriate group number. The group number must be determined by a NATA-accredited
laboratory (or similarly accredited laboratory under NATA’s Mutual Recognition Arrangement Network) in accordance with AS5637.1.

“Furthermore practitioners are alerted to the fact that they should be requesting manufacturers to demonstrate compliance via a legitimate AS 5637.1 test report from an accredited laboratory that confirms a Group Number of either 1, 2 or 3 dependent on the specification required, and a SMOGRARC index of less than 100 m2.s-2 x1000 in terms of smoke development for areas without NCC compliant fire sprinklers,” says the statement.

“From May 1, 2019, group numbers for internal linings that rely on ceiling only test reports are non-conforming and should not be relied upon to demonstrate compliance to the NCC.”

AIRAH is currently running a series of seminars around the country to highlight key changes in NCC 2019, with a focus on new energy efficiency requirements in Section J.

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