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Essential Safety Measures

All buildings that are not a house or outbuilding have essential safety measure requirements.


These include the following Classes which are defined in A3.2 of the National Construction Code Series Volume One, Building Code of Australia Class 2–9 Buildings:

  • Class 1b: Some boarding houses, guest houses or hostels
  • Class 2: Buildings containing sole-occupancy units which are dwellings (e.g. apartments, blocks of flats)
  • Class 3: Backpacker accommodation, residential parts of hotels or motels, residential parts of schools, accommodation for the aged, disabled or children
  • Class 4: A dwelling in another class of building
  • Class 5: Offices for professional or commercial purposes
  • Class 6: Shops or other buildings for sale of goods by retail, including cafés, restaurants, milk bars, dining rooms, and bars
  • Class 7: Buildings used for car parks, storage or display of goods
  • Class 8: Laboratories or buildings for production or assembly of goods
  • Class 9: Public buildings such as health care buildings or assembly buildings, nightclubs, bars etc

What are Essential Safety Measures?

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


A building's fire safety systems are called Essential Safety Measures and are integral for people's safety in commercial and public buildings in the event of an emergency.


Each building has its own unique list of Essential Safety Measure items depending on its class, size and location.


The term ‘essential safety measure’ is defined in Part 15 of the Building Regulations 2018 (the Regulations) and includes items listed in Schedule 8 of the Regulations, such as:

  • Exit doors and signs
  • Emergency lighting
  • Fire extinguishers, hydrants and hose reels
  • Fire detection and alarm systems
  • Fire rated materials
  • Fire walls and windows
  • Fire isolated stairs, passageways and ramps
  • Path of travel to exit
  • Smoke alarms
  • Smoke control systems
  • Sprinkler systems

What are the owner's responsibilities?

The regulations require the building owner to maintain essential safety measures so that they operate satisfactorily.


There are different obligations under the regulations, dependent on when the building was built or when work occurred on the building.


The owner must also keep records of maintenance checks, safety measures and repair work so a municipal building surveyor or chief officer of the fire brigade can inspect them.


Building owners must prepare an annual essential safety measures report on the buildings essential safety measures. They may authorize an agent, such as a specialist maintenance contractor, to complete the report for them.


This list of local contractors that may be able to help you:


Essential Safety Measures inspection services


What is an Annual Essential Safety Measures Report?

Each year building owners must complete an Annual Essential Safety Measures Report to show that the building's fire safety features (ESMs) have been maintained to the standards.


The annual report must be available for council or Country Fire Authority inspection.


The report must be in an approved layout.


Annual ESM report template


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.


Further help

The Victorian Building Authority has produced information to help you.


For further information refer to the Victorian Building Authority website or contact council.





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