Fire safety

Fire safety in domestic buildings

The most common causes of house fires are:

  • a saucepan containing fat or oil boiling over onto the hotplate or burner;
  • the heat setting on the stove being too high, causing burning or spattering fat;
  • leaving food cooking on a stove unattended;
  • children playing with matches;
  • appliances such as an irons, stoves, ovens or heaters left on at night, or when the house is left unattended;
  • furnishings, toys or clothes placed too close to heaters where they accidentally catch fire;
  • smoking in bed;
  • an open fireplace left burning without a screen guard;
  • faulty electrical appliances;
  • incorrectly installed flues on wood heaters or stoves; and
  • overloaded powerpoints.

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) has further information on fire safety in the home. For further information on fire safety, visit the MFB website.

Fire safety in commercial buildings

The Building Act 1993 requires owners of all commercial buildings to install and maintain certain types of safety systems.

These are required for an emergency to aid in evacuation, give early warning, extinguish or suppress a fire. Some of these systems include:

  • fire sprinkler systems;
  • fire hydrants and hose reels;
  • extinguishers; and
  • exit and emergency lighting.

A complete list can be found under Part 15 of the Building Regulations 2018.

Since August 2002, all nursing homes, hostels and other similar housing centres are required to have residential sprinkler systems installed.

Severe penalties apply to owners who do not regularly maintain these systems, or who have not installed the safety systems in a proper working order. The Building Code of Australia and Australian Standards stipulate the required levels of routine maintenance to be carried out by qualified testers.

The Victorian Building Authority has produced a community information sheet which assists building owners in meeting their obligations. A copy is available for download below.

Essential services information sheet(PDF, 163KB)

Fire safety inspections

We conduct regular random inspections of commercial buildings throughout the City to check that building owners are meeting their responsibilities in relation to the routine maintenance of these essential services.

Stern enforcement policies are now in place for the issuing of infringement notices for breaches of the Building Regulations 2018. In some instances, owners can be prosecuted in a court of law if they are found to be in breach of these important safety requirements.