Installations – the good, the bad and the ugly

This is a case study of what NOT to do when commissioning a Fire Safety Upgrade.

The building was built in the 1960’s and had absolutely no fire safety measures installed.

Due to their Local Council requesting an Annual Fire Safety Management Statement, the owners commissioned Dragon Fire Services to carry out a Building Code of Australia (BCA) and Australian Standard (AS) Audit Report, which detailed the work required for compliance.

The owners put the required work out to tender.

Dragon Fire Services quoted the work.

Another fire company quoted the work at approximately half the price and subsequently won the job.

The owners re-contacted us after the work had been done by the other organisation.  And they weren’t happy.

The installation had been done in the quickest and cheapest way possible and was of very poor quality.

As you’ll see in the pictures of the completed job, ultimately in life you tend to get what you pay for!  Notice the exposed, ugly conduit.

The Fire Indicator Panel (FIP) as shown in the picture has been installed in such a way that it obstructs passage through the stairway for large furniture items etc.

More importantly, “path of egress” is obstructed which is non-compliant with the Building Code of Australia.

The bad and the ugly!

Conduit work above Fire Panel (Entry Foyer)

(A) Click the image to zoom in and see the shocking conduit work around the junction box.

Click the image to zoom in and see the shocking conduit work around the junction box.

This is a 2-Way box with 4 conduits coming into it!

This is the sort of wiring you'd expect to see in a cow shed!

Fire Panel (Entry Foyer)

(B) Note the distance between the Fire Panel and the Ballustrade is less than 1 metre.  This DOES NOT comply with egress requirements.

This could have easily been avoided by installing the panel under the stairs, recessed into the gyprock wall.

One of the owners said they couldn't get their fridge out which is why they complained!

(C) Note the 2 Unit entry doors behind.  There is no "Evacuation Sounder" installed.  Sound requirements 100dB at the door.  So does not comply with fire codes.

Sadly, rectification will now cost more than our original price due to demolition of the existing system and rewiring from scratch.

The Good - This is what a "Professional" job looks like...

Conduit work in a carpark.

(A) Note the correct use of conduit accessories and joining pieces.

Duct work in internal common areas.

Note the correct use of Tee and Corner pieces.

The Ultimate - If you're wondering what a "Premium" job looks like...

Fully Concealed Wiring

All wiring is concealed within the concrete slab.

This is very difficult and labour intensive, so comes at a premium price.

However, the end result is worthwhile.

Several owners have told us, “We wish we had paid double and done this properly in the first place” and are now talking about re-doing the work.

Overall this will cost more than our original price, because there is more work involved in terms of removing the defective work and starting again from scratch.

Ideally the owners would get the original installer to rectify the poor work.

However,  since completing the work, the company has been wound up by the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation and is in external administration.

Even so, owners should of been protected by the Home Owners Compensation Fund, formerly known as Home Owners Warranty (HOW) insurance, however there was no policy in place. This is most likely because the installer was not eligible for HOW and the owners never asked or queried.

Take home lessons:

  1. Don’t leave an apartment building without fire safety measures in place – it’s extremely hazardous and council or the fire brigade will eventually catch up with you.
  1. All fire companies are not the same. Quality of workmanship can vary enormously. Ask for references.
  1. All quotes may not be the same. If quotes vary enormously, ask questions. You are almost certainly not comparing ‘apples with apples’.
  1. Ensure the contractor has Home Owner Warranty Insurance for any residential work over $20K.