Essential Safety Measures

Building - Essential Safety Measures


Essential safety measures (ESM) are the fire, life safety and health items installed or constructed in a building to ensure adequate levels of fire safety and protection over the life of the building.

Essential safety measures include all traditional building fire services such as sprinklers and mechanical services etc., but also include passive fire safety such as fire doors, fire-rated structures and other building infrastructure items such as paths of travel to exits.

The owners of all commercial and industrial buildings including boarding houses, hostels, aged and disabled accommodation must maintain all safety measures contained within that building for the life of the building. The maintenance of ESM’s ensure the building, its occupants, adjoining buildings and the public are protected from dangers such as fire or other emergencies.

Regulation 224 of the Building Regulations 2018, places the responsibility on the property owner to ensure that the maintenance of essential safety measures required for their property is carried out, and that appropriate records of maintenance, service and repair work are kept.

Further information on Essential Safety Measure's and your responsibilities can be found at the Victorian Building Authority website including a manual that may assist you with maintaining your building.

Owner/Occupier Responsibilities

Building owners are responsible to ensure that all the essential safety measures incorporated in their building are maintained in a reasonable order, inspected on a regular basis and those inspections documented.  Building owners must prepare an annual essential safety measures report - an authorised specialist maintenance contractor may complete this report.

Council's Responsibilities

Council are responsible for ensuring a building's Essential Safety Measures (ESM) are kept maintained and regularly tested.  This is done through an audit program, carrying out inspections to assist the property owner in ensuring the buildings ESM are compliant with the relevant building legislation.

Council will advise property owners by letter of when an inspection is scheduled and will assist the owner with the requirements of the building's ESMs, maintenance and reporting requirements.

What are Essential Safety Measures

Essential Safety Measures contained within your building may include:

  • Air conditioning systems,
  • Emergency lighting, 
  • Exit signs,
  • Fire brigade connections
  • Fire shutters,
  • Fire resisting structures,
  • Mechanical ventilation systems, or
  • Static water supply]ies.

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

Class of Building

The maintenance of essential safety measures applies to Class 1b, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 buildings as defined in the Building Code of Australia (BCA) Volume 1. These classifications include multi-storey residential buildings, hotels/motels, offices, shops, warehouses, factories and hospitals/public buildings respectively.

For further information regarding building classes visit the Victorian Building Authority.