Are older buildings really safe (Fire Dampers & Duct Breakaway)

In Australia once a building is built, there is little requirement for retrospective upgrading (except when major work mandates upgrade using the 50% refurbishment within a 3-year period rule, whereupon it is required to update to those code requirements or equivalent at that time – though many do whatever is possible to avoid this and most goes unnoticed).

We have observed that many hi-rise building with HVAC installations pre-dating AS1682.1&2-1990 are without appropriate breakaway on the ductwork.

Why is the breakaway requirement so important?

  • > Because if there is a fire, there is every likelyhood that the duct shall collapse and this shall result in the duct without breakaway pulling the fire damper from the wall as well as that action leading to partial wall collapse.
  • > If there was breakaway, the duct would collapse but the fire damper would be retained within the firewall and provide the required protection.

It is my personal belief that whenever there is the opportunity (vacant possession, refurbishment, etc.), that every opportunity is made to update these systems in that accessible part of older buildings to reflect current performance requirements (or deemed equivalent).ImageIt should also be recognised that those maintaining and assessing these systems are referencing them back to the performance standards associated with their installation (operational check) and this means that the assessment reporting fails to identify non-conformance to what is current “minimum best practice“.

It has also been observed that inappropriate practices by other trades are not being reported by service technicians/ maintainers and this degrades the performance from that of the original installation (cables and pipes adjacent to duct penetrations of firewalls, etc).

It needs to be known that the assessors are actually obliged to endorse performance based entirely upon the standard of installation and such a process while conforming to the legislative requirements (and covering the assessor from liability), still leave a residual risk until that building is fully upgraded.
The building owner/building controller, remain as the responsible entity for the safety of those in occupation and should give consideration to management of those risks as well as any risks introduced by those occupants.

Building owners require that any new works reflect current requirements but are under no obligation to elevate the base building.


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AS1851-2012 Service & Repair of Essential Services in Buildings – finally published


Ok – so it’s only some 5 months latter than expectations. It’s still great to see this standard finally appear.

AS1851 provides a task schedule and scope to those who service and repair essential services measures in buildings (except those which for some idiotic reason weren’t included).

It clearly defines the requirements and expectations required of the building owner (base building data, alternate solution documentation, tactical plans and procedures) as well as the how and when to service.

The essential services measures which were inappropriately excluded were: Emergency Lifts, Emergency Lighting & Exit Signs, and Standby Power Systems. Hopefully the next review can see these included.

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Some things we do

Contact us at if you see where we could be of use to your team.Image

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Premises Access

In Australia, we have had legislation put in place since May 2011 requiring access for those with impairments into buildings where they shall enjoy not less than that same level of access provided to the unimpaired.

Any new or refurbishment of the whole or any part of a public accessed building must provide satisfactory access from public space (street) through the entry and to the new work area as well as throughout that new work area.

Exemptions are available where it can be established that the provision of such access would cause and these is evidence to support undue hardship for the stakeholder/s.

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Legionella can be controlled

Forced draft counterflow cooling tower

In Australia, we’ve completed our review of the Australian Standard for microbial control in cooling water systems and HVAC including a new part for performance based maintenance on air-handling plant.

To assist in this, we at NDIBS have developed a presentation talk to briefly explain the history and readily identify observable failings in systems as well as some of the more advanced methods that we use to mitigate such risks and elevate plant efficiency.

The talks are currently freely available to our current and prior customer base with presentation at the customer’s premises. We will also consider offering the same to others where practicable.

Anyone interested should contact us at

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Men Meeting the Challenge Conference 1st Sept 2012 at King’s School North Parramatta

ImageOn Fire for Christ
For all those Sydneysiders who call themselves Christian – It would be great if you could think about attending the Men Meeting the Challenge event on Saturday September 1st . It is best to book as soon as practicable so that you may take advantage of early bird rates as well as the 10 for 8 offer (arrange this through your local men’s ministry convenor, etc.)

The conference is a non-denominational, biblically referenced teaching event with the aim of assisting us in reflecting Christ to all of those with whom we have contact.

For those with a Dad around, take him along and be with him (day preceding father’s day on Sunday Sept 2nd), or for Dad’s think about bringing your son/s!

For the Girls, this is a great opportunity to get your men out of the house (together) on a Saturday and have them return better for it. As I quiter rightly point out to my Loving wife “I may not be the perfect husband and father – but without the influence of going to talks such as these, I’d definitely be a whole lot worse…” She is mindful that I dramatically improved after my committment to our Saviour and that I’m slowly getting easier to live with in spite of being a grumpy older man!

Talk program will be: Ian Powell who shall challenge us with the commission to make Christ as Saviour known, followed by Leigh Hatcher querying where we stand in our culture, then there will be a group of choice options for sessions on: ministering to mates, seeding with children, witnessing in groups, grandparenting ( I’ll be probably choosing this one) – then another choice session on: contacting young guys with the Gospel, lifetime commitment (marriage), being a chaplain in your workplace (Graham Clark), being genuine and committed with those of differing culture (Frank Hawkes). We would then be closing with a summation by Dominic Steele.

If you see that all of the talks are appealing (as I do) and you’re having difficulties on which breakout to attend then prioritise what you feel would benefit you most (and let your Dad or son or guest choose what he’d like) – then order the MP3’s for the event. This will also make a great ministry resource and reference (we stick them in the slot in the car when driving around and seem to get something more out of such talks and find ourselves refreshed each time we pray and then listen). We also have some of the earlier MMC event talks should anyone be interested (but we would like to have them back to share with others as well as refresh ourselves) or go to the website and download last years MP3’s of the talks as well as check out the promo video.

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Aethists, Agnostics and Christians

Ok – So I’ll tell you first that I do profess to be a Christian.

Recently we had a debate by the Author Richard Dawkins and the local roman catholic archbishop George Pell.    Both were a disappointment in expressing their point of view and it was obvious that Dawkins had a far better knowledge of what was in the Bible than did Archbishop Pell and the impression that I was left with was that Archbishop Pell does not have the resurrected Jesus Christ as his Lord & Saviour.

On the issue of the evilness of aethists or agnostic, I really don’t see any difference between an aethist or agnostic and a comparible Christian. Both will have done things that should give them shame (I know that I have). The difference is that the Christian has acknowledged that and asked for and been granted forgiveness by the Saviour whilst this is not the case for the aethist or the agnostic.
A deliverable of this will be the saved Christian seeking the mind and heart of God in how they deal with others and strengthening the personal relationship provided with the Saviour.

The aethist or agnostic are denying the Soverinity of God and as such are making themselves in status equal to the Creator.

As to who goes to Heaven, we who have God as Soverign in our lives should not be doing so as a just reward so that we may go to Heaven as we know we don’t deserve it, but God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ has made this a promise and therefore we can rely upon it to be so.

While I yearn for those who I care for and who continue to deny the Saviour to seek forgiveness in His name, for those who spend their lives in such denial until the end, the last place they would probably want to be is in Heaven.  Here is a place filled with the presence of God – If they were there it would be hell, to understand that they spent their life denying the opportunity to make my Saviour the Lord of their life.

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Cooling Tower Audits

I’m on the Australian Standards technical committee for Microbial Control in Building Warm Water Systems (Standard AS/NZS3666 parts 1, 2, & 3 + proposed part 4) as representative for Engineers Australia’s Society of Building Services Engineers (SBSE) and also for the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers.

One review issue I believe is worthwhile amending is that there are currently no audit referable docket sequential numbers required on water treatment service records. We believe that these could and should be introduced into the revised standard. At present the only thing we can use as a reference is the date, however this does not provide the unique referencing that auditors need.

Other similar auditable Building Services are required to have such sequentially numbered and referable records (fire protection services, HVAC & Smoke Control, etc).

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