Industry alert - Assessing the suitability of materials

The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) reminds the building industry to exercise due diligence in assessing the suitability of materials and to ensure that the selection and use of materials is supported by the necessary documentation to verify compliance with the NCC 2019 Amendment 1.

A recent Federal Court of Australia decision in the case Pirmax Pty Ltd v Kingspan Insulation Pty Ltd [2002] highlights the importance of having suitable fire test reports to confirm compliance with the National Construction Code (NCC)*.

This decision considered compliance with clause C1.10 of the NCC 2019 Volume One Amendment 1 as a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution. Clause C1.10 provides that internal linings, materials and assemblies are subject to meeting the fire hazard properties outlined in Specification C1.10 which sets out the ‘group number’ that materials must achieve as determined in accordance with AS 5637.1-2015.

Part 5 of AS 5637.1-2015 provides requirements for testing to AS ISO 9705 -2003 to determine the group number and clause 5.2.1 of that part states that "testing of wall or ceilings alone shall not be used for determining group number…".

It follows that where an internal lining, material or assembly has not been tested to AS ISO 9705-2003 in accordance with clause 5.2.1, it cannot be considered as achieving compliance with C1.10 and is not a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution under the NCC 2019 Amendment 1.

Only materials that can be verified by one or more of the acceptable methods of suitability under NCC Part A5.2 can be accepted/used as a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution.

The VBA will continue to monitor whether this recent Federal Court of Australia decision will be appealed and will work with relevant stakeholders to understand what impact  the court decision may have on existing buildings.

View the reasons for judgment.

*The referenced case has been included for information purposes only and the finding of the Federal Court of Australia may be subject to appeal.