Non Fire Isolated Stairways or Ramps

Fire isolated stairs and ramps are constructed in buildings mainly for use in emergencies and are typically enclosed with fire rated walls. This allows occupants to remain reasonably safe while evacuating and provides protection for the fire brigade to undertake a search and rescue.

Fire isolated stairs are required to have accessible features as outlined in Part D3.3 of the BCA which includes a compliant single handrail (no vertical sections) and non-slip nosings complying with Clause 11.1 (f) and (g) AS1428.1-2009. For a fire isolated ramp, a compliant single handrail is required complying with AS1428.1-2009.

In other scenarios, a fire exit stairway or ramp providing egress from a basement or ground floor building may not be required to be fire-isolated. This is called up in the BCA as a non-fire isolated stairway or ramp. Where this occurs, Part D3.3 of the BCA states this stairway or ramp must comply with Clause 10 and 11 of AS1428.1-2009, being that this stairway or ramp is not fire-isolated and not enclosed with fire rated walls.

This automatically triggers the requirement for accessible features including compliant handrails on both sides with extensions, non-slip nosings for stairways and tactile ground surface indicators.

The reasoning behind this is that the non-fire isolated stairway or ramp could be possibly used a common pathway to access the building if there aren’t any doors to prevent access to this area. It is important to distinguish the requirements between a fire isolated stairway or ramp and a non-fire isolated stairway or ramp during the design or construction of a building.