Fire Regulations in Mezzanine Design

Fire Regulations in Mezzanine Design

Mezzanine floors are a fantastic way for businesses to maximise space without the hefty costs and delays associated with relocation or expansion. Versatile, cost-effective, and quick to install, they are a popular choice for a range of industries. But with their benefits come essential safety considerations  of which fire protection is top of the list. Fire protection not only covers the safety of your staff and property, but also ensures that you’re compliant with building regulations.

For businesses thinking of installing a mezzanine in Australia, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the National Construction Code (NCC). Adhering to these rules keeps everyone safe and will keep your company clear of legal issues. In this quick guide, we’ll break down the fire regulation considerations for mezzanines in Australia so you can move forward with your project — with safety and confidence. 

Important Mezzanine Design Considerations

  • Fire Compliance: In Australia, adherence to fire safety standards for mezzanines is compulsory, regardless of design or material.
  • Professional Evaluation: A professional fire engineer should assess every mezzanine project to determine the specific fire safety measures required.
  • Fire Rating: While not always mandatory, frequently accessed mezzanines or those used as office spaces must be fire-rated.
  • Protection Elements: Incorporate fire-resistant components like column casings, suspended ceiling panels, edge fascias, and cavity barriers.
  • Fire Systems: Installation of sprinklers and smoke detection systems is crucial for early fire detection and control.
  • Consultation: Engaging with experts, like our team at Unistor, ensures comprehensive fire protection tailored to your mezzanine’s specifications.

 

Sprinklers and Other Fire Suppression Services in Mezzanine Designs

First up, let’s talk about sprinklers and fire suppression systems. If your existing warehouse has a sprinkler system in place, remember to extend this to your new mezzanine floor as well. The role of sprinklers isn’t just to put out fires, but to detect them early, controlling their spread and minimising damage. The Australian Standard AS2118.1-2017 carefully details the requirements for these systems in various warehouse structures, mezzanines included.

However, designing fire safety isn’t as simple as popping some sprinklers up! Many factors, from the fuel loads to the potential for fire spread, can affect what fire suppression requirements are needed. At Unistor, we ensure compliance without compromising on cost-effectiveness. Our team works with fire engineers and top service providers to ensure that our designs are both budget-friendly and compliant with regulations.

An important note: if you’re planning on adding shelves to your mezzanine, you must account for the sprinklers and fire hose reels around them. Once everything is set up, always keep pathways clear, so that in case of a fire, firefighters can easily reach every corner. 

Fire Resistance Levels of Structural Mezzanines

While a single-tier mezzanine often doesn’t require special fire resistance considerations, things become a bit more complicated when you add a second level or more. Transitioning from a one-tier to a two-tier mezzanine can shift your building classification, typically from a type C to a type B — as defined by the NCC. This brings along a fire resistance level (FRL) requirement of 240/-/240, which indicates a resistance of up to 240 minutes against fire.

But, there’s flexibility! It’s possible to potentially halve this requirement by obtaining a performance solution. Experts can evaluate your design, and with the right safety measures, this can be brought down to 120 minutes. Simple steps like wrapping columns in fire-resistant cladding can help achieve an FRL of 120/-/120. 

How to Fire Protect a Mezzanine Floor

When it comes to mezzanine fire safety, every element matters. Here are some simple yet effective fire protection measures for your system:

  • Column Casings: Think of these as protective armour for your mezzanine columns. In a fire, they help keep the mezzanine structurally stable, allowing people more time to evacuate.
  • Suspended Ceiling Panels: These are your mezzanine’s protective shield against fires starting below. If a blaze ignites on the lower floor, these panels block fire, heat, and smoke from reaching up.
  • Edge Fascias: Positioned on the mezzanine’s edges, they act as a fire barrier, stopping flames and heat from creeping up the sides.
  • Cavity Barriers: Imagine these as expandable fillers in the gaps or cavities in your mezzanine structure. When there’s heat, they expand, stopping fire from passing through these spaces.
  • Smoke Detection Systems: These are your first responders. Early smoke detection and alarm sounding ensures everyone can leave safely and as quickly as possible. 

Fire Egress – A Critical Consideration

Safety exits are a crucial part of fire safety and evacuation. To remain compliant with the NCC, it’s required that mezzanine staircases or exits should be positioned so that individuals are never more than 20 meters away from an exit. In certain cases, this can be extended to 40 meters, provided there is a clear path of travel to at least two exits. Remember, the layout of your shelving systems within the mezzanine may increase paths of travel for egress, calling for additional staircases to be installed to maintain compliance. Plan wisely to ensure everyone can exit safely and quickly during emergencies.

Unistor: Your Partner for Compliant Mezzanine Design

Designing a mezzanine requires careful consideration of fire regulations laid out in the NCC to ensure compliance and provide a safe environment. Wrapping your head around the impact of adding levels on building classification, the option of performance solutions, the importance of fire egress, the impact of shelving systems on pathways, and the significance of fire services design and sprinkler systems are all vital in creating a secure and compliant mezzanine structure.

With so many factors to consider, it’s essential to have knowledgeable experts by your side. At Unistor, we work with the best engineers, architects, and building code consultants to ensure complete adherence to fire regulations and best practices in mezzanine design. Whether you’re considering a new mezzanine design or looking to revamp an existing one, Unistor is your go-to expert. Our team is committed to delivering a mezzanine design that’s both efficient and fully compliant with all regulations.

Choose Unistor as the right mezzanine solution and increase your storage capacity by double.

Double the floor space in your warehouse

Contact our professionals today to tailor a Mezzanine Floor solution to meet your requirements