Compliance is king.
With a dedicated focus on fire stair cores and handrails, our expert Design Team explores the intricate world of codes and guidelines. FTI Group has a qualified in-house Design Team who diligently examines buildings every day, especially stair cores. Their keen eye catches potential compliance issues during the design phase, enabling us to highlight and address them to our clients before manufacture or construction commences.
When you partner with FTI Group, we take compliance to the next level. Our meticulous shop drawing process includes a comprehensive compliance check and detailed mark-ups, fulfilling our obligation and commitment to excellence and safety for our clients.
If you are involved in construction and design, you know compliance is king. And when it comes to fire shafts and stairs, our team lives and breathes the ins and outs of regulations daily. We are here to share our expertise and shed light on the five most common compliance issues that can arise in fire stair applications. So, whether you are sketching plans, constructing structures, or fine-tuning details, learn how to discover and navigate these potential pitfalls.
Here are the five most common compliance issues our team identifies when looking at fire cores, stairs, and handrails.
1. No one-tread offset.
A compliance issue we frequently see is the absence of a one-tread offset. This issue occurs when the handrail fails to smoothly transition at landings or changes in direction, resulting in vertical elements or sudden elevation changes.
Imagine using a fire stair, relying on the handrail for support as you ascend or descend. Suddenly, you encounter a disruption in the handrail flow. It could be a vertical element that obstructs the handrail continuity or an abrupt change in elevation where the handrail should seamlessly continue.
This absence of a one-tread offset is not compliant with an Australian fire stair design. The one-tread offset requirement ensures that handrails maintain a consistent height and uninterrupted path as users navigate the stairs. Its purpose is to provide a continuous handhold, promoting safety and preventing potential accidents or discomfort during stair navigation.
2. Riser heights outside the allowable 115-190mm range.
Another critical compliance issue commonly found in fire stairs applications is the incorrect riser heights, falling outside the allowable range of 115-190mm.
Imagine climbing a flight of stairs and realising that the height of each step is inconsistent or does not adhere to the recommended range. This inconsistency disrupts the natural flow of stair navigation and poses significant safety risks.
Maintaining consistent riser heights is crucial for ensuring user safety and preventing accidents. The suggested range of 115-190mm ensures a balance between making it easy to go up or down the stairs comfortably and reducing the chance of tripping or stumbling. Deviations from this range can create challenges in using the stairs, especially for individuals with limited mobility or those carrying heavy loads.
When riser heights fall outside the allowable range, it compromises the overall functionality and compliance of the fire stair system. Stairs with excessively high risers can strain the legs and increase the likelihood of tripping. Stairs with abnormally low risers can lead to an uncomfortable and rapid descent, potentially causing a loss of balance.
3. Head clearance less than 2000mm.
Another significant compliance issue that often arises in the design of fire stairs and handrails is the lack of sufficient head clearance, falling below the required minimum of 2000mm.
Imagine yourself going up or down a fire staircase. When you reach a landing or move between floors, you realise that the area above your head feels uncomfortably limited. This inadequate head clearance diminishes the overall user experience and raises serious safety concerns.
Providing ample head clearance is crucial to prevent potential head injuries and establish an environment that ensures the safety and comfort of users. The minimum requirement of 2000mm accounts for the average height of people and enables unhindered movement. When head clearance is compromised, it increases the risk of collisions with low-hanging obstructions, creates discomfort, and gives a sense of confinement.
4. Clear width between handrails and obstructions.
A crucial compliance issue common in the design of fire stairs and handrails is the distance between the handrail and any obstruction being less than 1000mm.
Imagine walking on a fire stair and noticing a lack of space between the handrail and obstacles like walls or columns. When this distance is too small, it can be dangerous and make it difficult for people to move freely.
Having enough clear space ensures that people can pass through safely. The minimum requirement of 1000mm allows people of different sizes, those using mobility aids, or during emergencies to move quickly and without any restrictions. When the clear width is less than this requirement, it blocks the flow of people, making the fire stair system less safe and functional, especially during busy times or in emergencies. The limited space can lead to accidental collisions or make it harder for people to move, resulting in injuries or delays during evacuations.
5. Tread going width less than 250mm.
A significant compliance issue commonly faced in the design of fire stairs is the insufficient width of the tread going, falling below the required minimum of 250mm. FTI Group recommends a minimum tread going design of 252mm.
Imagine climbing or descending a set of fire stairs and noticing that the width of each step feels uncomfortably narrow. This lack of adequate tread-going width compromises the usability of the stairs and poses a safety risk.
Ensuring sufficient tread-going width is crucial for providing a stable and secure platform for users of the stairs. The minimum requirement of 250mm considers the average foot size and allows for confident and balanced footing. When the tread going width is insufficient, it increases the likelihood of missteps, instability, and a higher risk of tripping or falling.
But wait, there is more to help you.
We recognise that the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the National Construction Code (NCC) can sometimes be unclear and confusing due to the complexity, vague language, evolving standards, performance-based approaches, and varying interpretations of the codes.
To assist you in understanding and applying the codes to stairs and railings, we have invested in design tools specifically designed for this purpose. These tools will help you interpret and navigate the codes easier, ensuring compliance and clarity in your stair and railing designs.
By partnering with FTI Group, you will have access to these extra tools.
Fast Tread® Handrail & Stair Guidelines
We have developed a set of fundamental compliance guidelines to assist our clients in identifying potential compliance issues before manufacturing and construction begin. These guidelines are outlined based on our understanding and interpretation of the BCA/NCC and Australian Standards. While they serve as a valuable guide, it’s important to note that they are not binding regulations. However, they can be a helpful tool in deciphering the codes and ensuring compliance with railings and stairs.
Download your copy here.
Fast Tread® BIM Content
We understand the challenges of modelling and documenting in Autodesk Revit, so we have invested in developing a comprehensive suite of highly parametric Revit Content specifically for Fast Tread® stairs and handrails.
Our Revit Content is designed to streamline the modelling and documentation process, significantly reducing the time and effort required. But it doesn’t stop there. Our Fast Tread® Revit Content goes beyond mere convenience. It incorporates embedded design guidelines that help interpret and apply Australian Standards and the NCC to railings and stairs.
Our highly parametric Revit Content helps you identify any potential compliance issues. The content will flag these issues and provide various options for achieving compliance, making it much simpler to design a stair core that meets your project requirements and complies with relevant regulations.
Download your copy here.
Compliance Mark-up by the FTI Design Team
The Compliance Mark-up involves a full compliance review of the Architectural drawings to identify and flag any actual or potential compliances issues with regards to the stairs and handrail based on our interpretation of the BCA/NCC & Australian Standards and as outlined in the Fast Tread® Handrail & Stair Compliance Guidelines.
Partner with FTI Group for your next project to experience this for yourself.
Partner with FTI Group.
We have reports and documents that confirm our products meet all the necessary standards and regulations. These have been endorsed by experienced engineers in the industry, giving you peace of mind about the compliance and quality of our Fast Tread® preformed stairs and our ancillary products. Contact us to request a copy.
Our customers trust us because our products are reliable and of high quality. That is why we have a lot of repeat business. We have supplied our products to over 3,500 buildings around the world. You can be confident in choosing FTI, knowing that our products have been tried and tested and meet the required standards.