The PBDB and FEBQ are documents that lay out the scope of works for fire safety considerations in building design, involving all stakeholders and identifying outcomes and critical activities. The PBDB/FEBQ process includes a proposal summary, analytical assessment procedures, acceptance criteria, and acknowledgement of participants.
According to recent legislation, building owners must make sure that the person who wrote the PBDB requests comments from the Fire Commissioner, as represented by Fire & Rescue NSW, if the building is Class 2-9 and if a Construction Certificate (CC) is required for building works. Failure to seek comment can result in penalties ranging from $33,000 to $66,000.
It is important to engage a Fire Safety Engineer early in the design process and follow the required documentation process to ensure the safety of the building and avoid penalties.
The preparation of the Performance-Based Design Brief (PBDB) is a crucial step in the building design development process. It provides an opportunity for all stakeholders, such as the fire safety engineer, architect, developer, client, appropriate authorities, fire authority, and others, to participate in the process and define the project's scope for fire engineering analysis. The PBDB includes the safety strategy of the building, encompassing evacuation strategies, management policies, and more. Once completed, it serves as the foundation on which the proposed design is based upon.
In NSW, the Fire Engineering Brief Questionnaire (FEBQ) is a crucial document required by the Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) for all Class 2 to 9 buildings with Performance Solutions,. As with the PBDB, this document involves all stakeholders, but with the addition of Fire & Rescue NSW as a necessary stakeholder. FRNSW assesses the FEBQ and will notify the applicant of their decision within 10 working days. If FRNSW decides to comment, the applicant must wait for up to 28 working days to receive further comments.
The PBDB and FEBQ are important documents that define the scope of work and identify critical activities and outcomes for all stakeholders involved. The PBDB/FEBQ typically includes a proposal summary that provides information on the building type, location, and effective height. It also includes a description of the proposed solution, applicable performance requirements, analytical assessment procedures, acceptance criteria, scope of supporting evidence, and the format and content of the final report. All stakeholders involved in the process are acknowledged in the document (see Figure 1). The analytical assessment involves multiple trials and scenarios before formulating a conclusion for the final report (see Figure 2 and Figure 3). The proposed solution may require further analysis, modelling, and/or testing, but it will always meet the agreed-upon acceptance criteria.
Figure 1. PBDB Process (ABCB)
Figure 2. Analytical Assessment Process (ABCB)
Figure 3. Report Generation Process (ABCB)
New PBDB/FEBQ Legislation
Under Schedule 1 – Amendment of Environmental Planning and Assessment (Development Certification and Fire Safety) Regulation 2021: Section 26, it is the responsibility of the building owner to ensure that the author of the PBDB seeks comments from the Fire Commissioner, represented by Fire & Rescue NSW, for Class 2-9 buildings that require a Construction Certificate (CC). This request must be made during the PBDB development process and in the manner specified by the Fire Commissioner.
Failure to seek comments on the Performance Design Based Brief (PBDB) from the Fire Commissioner can lead to penalties imposed on the building owner, with corporations incurring 600 penalty points and individuals incurring 300 penalty points. In New South Wales, each penalty point is currently equivalent to $110 (as of the date of publication), resulting in fines ranging from $33,000 to $66,000. However, there are situations in which the penalty may not be enforced. For instance, if the Fire Commissioner has not notified the building owner within 10 working days after a request for comments on the PBDB, or if the Fire Commissioner has stated that they will not provide comments on the PBDB, or if the Fire Commissioner has not provided written comments within 20 working days after the request.
The Performance Based Design Brief (PBDB) is an essential component of the fire safety design process for any type of development, whether it involves a new project or a fit-out. To ensure the PBDB's effectiveness, it is crucial to involve a Fire Safety Engineer at an early stage and follow the required design, stakeholder engagement, and documentation process. PBDBs and their accompanying Fire Engineering Brief Questionnaire (FEBQ) outline fire safety considerations and seek valuable design input from all relevant stakeholders. Failure to comply with the process or seek input from Fire & Rescue NSW can lead to penalties.
NCC 1.3 Performance-based design
Fire NSW - PERFORMANCE-BASED DESIGN BRIEF / FIRE ENGINEERING BRIEF CONSULTATION