Page 6110 - Week 14 - Thursday, 8 December 2011

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(Question No 1979)

Ms Le Couteur asked the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, upon notice, on 8 December 2011 (redirected to the Acting Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development):

(1) In relation to the ACT Planning and Land Authority’s enforcement of insulation and downlight safety regime, what monitoring of safety issues around insulation surrounding downlights is undertaken.

(2) How many fires have been caused in the ACT due to insulation around downlights.

(3) What is the current rule for ACT buildings in relation to keeping insulation away from downlights.

(4) What is the thermal insulation and leakage impact of this rule.

(5) Has there been investigation into making downlight covers to protect insulation from downlights mandatory in the ACT, thereby being able to close the large holes which the building rules now require.

Mr Barr: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) Inspection of fire risks in roof spaces involving down lights, particularly recessed down lights with associated luminaires (lights) mounted through the ceiling is part of a mandated inspection of a new electrical installation. Retro-fitting down lights in existing ceiling spaces requires certification by licensed electricians in the form of a Certificate of Electrical Safety. This work is deemed ‘additions and alterations’, which is subject to a 10% audit by ESDD’s Electrical Inspectorate. Insulation installed in existing roof-spaces independently of other work is not deemed electrical work under the Electricity Safety Act 1971 or building work under the Building Act 2004 and is not subject to an inspection requirement. However, the installation must not breach safety requirements in ACT legislation.

(2) It is the function of the ACT Fire Brigade to determine cause of fire and report accordingly in relation to fire cause statistics. Although the Electrical Inspectorate assists the ACT Fire Brigade (ACTFB) in determining the causes of incidents when requested this question should be referred to the ACT Fire Brigade for response.

(3) Clause 4.5 of the Australian and New Zealand Standard, AS/NZS 3000: 2007 Electrical Installations (known as the AS/NZS Wiring Rules) regulates how recessed luminaires must function safely at an operational temperature that has no immediate or long-term effect on nearby combustible building elements when such luminaires are surrounded or covered by thermal insulation.

(4) The default 200 millimetre clearances around recessed luminaires where another form of compliant fire protection is not in place do have a significant impact on the effective level of the insulation. Table Adjustment of minimum R-Value for loss of ceiling insulation in Volume 2 of the National Construction Code demonstrates how a loss of greater than 5 per cent of the total ceiling area almost completely reduces the effectiveness of the insulation. Buildings that have less than 5 per cent

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