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Commercial, Industrial and Business Premises

Essential Safety Measures


What are Essential Safety Measures?

Essential Safety Measures are designed to save lives, properties and businesses in emergencies. They range from a smoke alarm or pool barrier at a house, to multiple fire safety systems in buildings and hospitals.


All commercial buildings have some form of Essential Safety Measures in the form of construction, equipment maintenance, or paths of travel to the exits.


 Essential Safety Measures inspection services


What is an Annual Essential Safety Measures Report?

Each year building owners must show that the building's fire safety features have been maintained to the standards through an Annual Essential Safety Measures Report. The annual report must be available to be inspected by council or the CFA.



The Victorian Building Authority has produced information to help you. Owners or their representatives must ensure that all building maintenance and testing is carried out before completing the Annual Essential Safety Measures report.


Victorian Building Authority - Essential Safety Measures 

Victorian Building Authority brochure

Victorian Building Authority Essential Safety Measures maintenance manual

Sample annual report


What does council do?

Council inspects commercial properties to ensure that building fire safety features are maintained.

Building owners are given at least 24 hours' notice before inspections. If buildings have not been maintained, fines may be issued.


For further information refer to the Victorian Building Authority website.


Accommodation Buildings

All existing accommodation buildings must be upgraded to include a degree of fire safety. Some buildings these requirements apply to include:

  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Hostels
  • Backpackers lodges
  • Shared accommodation facilities
  • Aged care cacilities
  • Hospitals
  • Pubs with accommodation
  • Facilities with accommodation for people with intellectual or physical disabilities

Building Owners

If you own any of the above, this could impact you. Depending on the characteristics of the building one of the following systems must be installed:

  • Smoke alarms
  • Smoke detection
  • Automatic sprinkler

This applies to buildings that don’t have any existing fire detection, alarm or sprinkler systems.


Hardwired Alarm Systems or Smoke Detection

If your building was constructed prior to 1 August 1997, one of the following systems must be installed: 

A smoke alarm system to Australian Standard AS3786

A smoke detection system to Australian Standard AS1670

These systems usually require a small number of smoke alarms connected to mains power with battery backup. Smoke alarms are usually located closely to all bedrooms and in every storey, and only programmed to ‘beep’ upon activation. Smoke alarms can be interconnected to one another so all alarms activate upon activation of a single alarm.


These systems usually require a large number of smoke detectors located throughout the building, in every room of every storey, connected directly to a main Fire Indicator Panel (FIP). The FIP usually alerts the fire brigade or sends the building into alarm and escape mode upon the activation of one of the detectors.



Sample layout diagram for hotels and motels (PDF 32Kb)



Automatic Sprinkler Systems - Accommodation Building

To find out whether your Shared Accommodation building needs an Automatic Sprinkler System installed, see Requirement for Automatic Sprinkler Systems


Automatic Fire Sprinkler Systems - Residential Care Buildings

If your Residential Care Building was built before 1 August 1997, it must be installed with a sprinkler system to AS2118.4 – 1995. Where the sprinklers system will be installed in a building which has one of the following:

  • More than 100 sprinkler heads 
  • Accommodates more than 32 residents

The system must be connected to a fire station or other approved monitoring service in accordance with Residential Fire Safety Systems Practice Note 2006-07.


What is a Residential Care Building or Shared Accommodation Building?

The Building Code of Australia Volume 1 defines the two as following:


Building Type


Residential care building

means a building which is a place of residence where 10% or more of persons who reside there need physical assistance in conducting their daily activities and to evacuate the building during an emergency (including any residential care service, State funded residential care service or supported residential service as defined in the Health Services Act 1988 and an aged care building) but does not include—

(a) a hospital or 

(b) a dwelling in which 2 or more members of the same family and not more than 2 other persons would ordinarily be resident or

(c) a place of residence where only one resident needs physical assistance in conducting their daily activities and to evacuate the building during an emergency.

Shared accommodation building

means a Class 3 building having—

(a) more than one sole-occupancy unit of which any sole-occupancy unit has sleeping facilities capable of accommodating 3 or more unrelated persons or

(b) sleeping facilities capable of accommodating 13 or more unrelated persons, that is a boarding-house, chalet, guest house, lodging-house, backpacker accommodation or the like, or a residential part of a hotel offering shared accommodation but does not include a residential care building, a motel or a residential part of a school, health-care building or detention centre.



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