The New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA) says peak membership bodies were not consulted regarding new changes to fire safety design compliance, an issue the NZACA intends to discuss with Minister for Building and Construction, Hon Jenny Salesa.
The changes mean fire safety design for aged residential care facilities will no longer be fully covered by the C/VM2 Verification Method: Framework for Fire Safety Design. The changes kick in tomorrow, Friday 24 November.
Fire safety design for aged residential care facilities can be performed using the Fire Engineering brief process and the appropriate parts of the C/VM2 which can be considered by the building consent authority as an alternative solution.
The NZACA has flagged that this means that operators with any building plans that have not yet received building consent must demonstrate compliance with the Building Code performance clauses. So if a current consent process is in the design phase, the designer/engineer may need to talk to their Building Consent Authority about this change.
MBIE has said the reasoning for the change is because the current provisions may result in designs that do not meet the requirements of the Building Code for some types of buildings.
“It is imperative that designers ensure their designs meet the requirements of the Building Code and there can be no compromise on that fundamental, in particular with life safety objectives. The C/VM2 is one available pathway to demonstrating compliance with Building Code requirements. If a residential care facility requires staged or assisted evacuation, then the C/VM2 in isolation cannot be used for this purpose.”
The changes represent yet another layer of compliance for providers. The NZACA will be discussing members’ concerns over ‘compliance creep’ in the forthcoming Age-Related Residential Care (ARRC) contract negotiations.