There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to fire safety. There are many different standards and regulations that must be met according to building classifications.

While any architect, builder, engineer, surveyor and fire safety professional worth their salt will know your compliance requirements, it’s also important to understand them as the building manager or owner. This is so you can stay across your obligations and avoid being caught out unawares by non-compliance fines.

The purpose, design and construction of a building determines the class it is given and the fire safety regulations it must meet. There are 10 building classifications in total, with some containing sub-classifications. Not sure what class your building is? We’ve put together a general guide to help you.

Class 1:

This class typically encompasses single standalone dwellings of a domestic or residential nature. The Class 1 classification includes two sub-classifications. A Class 1a building is a single dwelling being a detached house or one of a group of attached dwellings such as a townhouse. A Class 1b building is a boarding house, guest house or hostel with a floor area of less than 300 m2 and ordinarily has less than 12 people living in it.

Class 2:

Class 2 is the classification for apartment buildings and multi-unit residential buildings where people live above and below each other. Class 2 buildings may also be single-storey attached dwellings with a common space below. Strata properties are generally in this classification.

Class 3:

Class 3 is any residential dwelling outside Class 1 and Class 2. Examples include a boarding house, guest house, hostel or backpackers that are larger than the limits for a Class 1b building. Class 3 buildings could also include dormitory-style accommodation or workers’ quarters. Class 3 buildings may also be “care-type” facilities, such as accommodation buildings for children, the elderly, or people with a disability, which are not considered Class 9 buildings.

Class 4:

Class 4 is the classification given to the non-residential parts of a residential building, such as a storage room that is part of a caretaker facility. A Class 4 can only be located in Class 5 to 9 buildings, so this would not include a part of a building such as a residential garage.

Class 5:

Class 5 buildings are office buildings used for professional or commercial purposes, excluding Class 6, 7, 8 or 9 buildings. Examples of Class 5 buildings are offices for lawyers, accountants, general medical practitioners, government agencies and architects.

Class 6:

Class 6 buildings generally comprise restaurants, retail stores and cafes. Class 6 is for any building considered to sell goods or services directly to the public.

Class 7:

Class 7 buildings include two sub-classifications. Class 7a buildings are carparks, and Class 7b are typically warehouses, storage buildings or buildings for the display of goods (or produce) for wholesale.

Class 8:

Factories, laboratories, manufacturers and warehouses are primarily classified as Class 8 buildings. The building can be used for production, assembling, altering, repairing, finishing, packing,  or cleaning of goods or produce. Class 8 buildings are generally known to pose a high potential for fire hazards.

Class 9:

This classification is for buildings of a public nature and is separated into 3 sub-classifications. Class 9a buildings are generally hospitals and healthcare buildings. Class 9b buildings are assembly buildings in which people may gather for social, theatrical, political, religious or civil purposes. They include schools, universities, childcare centres, pre-schools, sporting facilities, nightclubs, and public transport buildings. Class 9c buildings are aged care buildings or personal care services that require 24-hour staff assistance to evacuate the building in an emergency.

Class 10:

Class 10 buildings are non-habitable buildings or structures and include three sub-classifications. Class 10a buildings are those such as sheds, carports, and private garages. Class 10b is a structure being a fence, mast, antenna, retaining wall, swimming pool, or the like. A Class 10c building is a private bushfire shelter. A private bushfire shelter is a structure associated with, but not attached to, a Class 1a building.

As buildings can have mixed uses, they can also have mixed (or multiple) classifications. For example, a building may have a basement carpark (Class 7a) with ground-floor retail space (Class 6) and residential apartments above (Class 2).

If you want to learn more about the NCC building classifications, head to the Australian Building Codes Board or give our team a call on (02) 8669 9100 to discuss the fire safety requirements for your building class.