Essential safety measures

Essential safety measures (ESMs) are the fire, life safety and health items installed or constructed in a building to ensure adequate levels of fire safety and protection over the building’s lifetime.

They include:

  • Sprinkler systems
  • Mechanical services
  • Fire services (portable fire extinguishers, fire hose reels, etc…)
  • Fire-rated structures
  • Other building infrastructure items, e.g., as paths of travel to exits, exit doors, etc.

Where are ESMs required?

The maintenance of essential safety measures applies to Class 1b, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 buildings as defined in the Building Code of Australia (BCA) Volume 1. These classifications include –

  • Multi-storey residential buildings
  • Hotels/motels
  • Offices
  • Shops
  • Warehouses
  • Factories
  • Hospitals/public buildings

Who is responsible for maintaining ESMs?

Building owners. They must maintain all ESMs contained within that building for the life of the building.

Regulation 224 of the Building Regulations 2018, places the responsibility on the property owner to ensure that the maintenance of ESMs required for their property is carried out, and that appropriate records of maintenance, service and repair work are kept.

Why have ESMs?

Maintaining ESMs ensures a building, its occupants, adjoining buildings and the public are protected from dangers such as fire or other emergencies.

What ESMs are required for my building?

Different ESMs are applicable to different classes of buildings. To determine which ESMs are applicable to your building, check your Occupancy Permit.

For more information on ESMs and your responsibilities, check the Victorian Building Authority website.