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Perimeter Vehicle Access for Emergency Vehicles

Perimeter vehicle access for emergency vehicles is an important consideration in the construction and planning of buildings and facilities in Australia. It forms a crucial part of the fire safety measures in place to ensure the safety of the public and the emergency response personnel. This is particularly relevant in the preparation and submission of the Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS), a document that certifies a building's fire safety measures are compliant with Australian standards and are in proper working condition.

The goal of perimeter vehicle access for emergency vehicles is to provide quick, safe, and effective access to the site for emergency services such as the Fire and Rescue NSW. The access must be suitable for large vehicles, like fire trucks, which need to be able to navigate to the site, park, and have sufficient space to operate. In some cases, this may also include ambulance services and police, particularly in larger emergencies where multiple agencies are involved.

The Australian Standard AS 2419.1 outlines specific criteria for access for fire brigade vehicles. These include the minimum width of the access route, maximum gradient, weight capacity, and even details about the turning circle for larger vehicles. While these standards primarily apply to fire hydrant installations, they provide useful guidelines for the general provision of access for emergency vehicles.

The Building Code of Australia (BCA), part of the National Construction Code (NCC), further stipulates the need for appropriate vehicle access for emergency situations. It underscores the need for clear and easy access routes and mandates the provision of fire hydrant booster points, which must be readily accessible from the site's perimeter.

When preparing the AFSS, property owners or managers need to certify that the perimeter vehicle access for emergency vehicles is kept clear and is suitable for its intended purpose. This means regular inspections and maintenance are necessary to ensure no obstacles, such as overgrown vegetation, parked cars, or built structures, are obstructing the path.

Non-compliance with these requirements can result in severe penalties, including significant fines and potential liability in case of an emergency where access is obstructed or insufficient. More importantly, ensuring good perimeter vehicle access is a critical step in protecting people and property in the event of a fire or other emergencies. It allows for faster response times, efficient firefighting operations, and, crucially, it can save lives.