A fire engineering brief (FEB) process helps to ensure fire safety designs that do not follow an acceptable solution will sufficiently demonstrate compliance with the building code.

Building Code

The New Zealand Building Code is performance-based. It states how a building must perform in its intended use rather than describing how the building must be designed and constructed.  Compliance with an acceptable solution or verification method is a means for establishing compliance with the building code, but are not the only means.

If your fire safety design does not use an acceptable solution as a means of compliance, then a specific fire engineering analysis is required to establish compliance with the building code using a verification method or an alternative solution.

A fire engineering brief (FEB) process is used to define the scope of work and design basis for the fire engineering analysis. This process involves an early discussion between key stakeholders on the project scope, analysis methodologies, design acceptance criteria and any potential regulatory constraints.

As a minimum, the key stakeholders include the fire designer, a fire design peer reviewer, a representative from Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), a representative from the building consent authority (BCA) and a representative for the property owner. The fire designer and peer reviewer are required to have chartered professional engineer status in fire engineering or a relevant field applicable to the project unless pre-approved by the BCA under its discretion.

Typically, the draft FEB documentation will have a concept design prepared by a suitably qualified fire engineer.  The concept fire design should include plans, details of occupant characteristics, proposed design methodologies, an initial determination of the preferred active and passive fire safety systems, and a list of any challenging matters for discussion.

Fire engineers can refer to the International Fire Engineering Guidelines(external link) or other internationally recognised standards for further information regarding the content of fire engineering brief documentation.

Deciding if you are required to use a FEB process

You are required to use a FEB process when:

  • Fire designs establishing compliance using C/VM2, except where C/VM2 is used solely for establishing compliance for external fire spread.
  • Fire designs establishing compliance using alternative solutions, except when a departure from an acceptable solution is considered minor by the BCA or where a design guide issued by MBIE under section 175 of the Building Act is followed in full.

Submitting your request for a FEB process

Complete the online request for service (Building)(external link) application.

  • Include your fire engineering brief (FEB) documentation.
  • Ensure the fire designer and peer reviewer have CPEng status in fire engineering or pre-approval from the BCA.

We'll review your application and provide comments within approximately 20 working days.

Approval of the fire engineering brief

To minimise delays in processing the building consent application, ensure that all key stakeholders have reached an agreement.

It is expected that any significant concerns raised by the BCA, the peer reviewer and the FENZ fire engineer are resolved before compiling the fully developed design. Unresolved comments may delay processing the building consent application.

The BCA approval of the FEB will be provided after:

  • Any significant concerns raised by key stakeholders are resolved.
  • Copies of the approval letters from both FENZ and the peer reviewer have been received by the BCA.

The FEB approval requires the following information to accompany the building consent application:

  • The approved FEB document.
  • The final fire design report based on the approved FEB document that includes design calculations and relevant supporting information.
  • Compliance schedule information for the specified systems in the building related to fire safety. This information must include  an accurate description of each specified system, its location, performance standard, and inspection maintenance and reporting procedures
  • PS1 from the fire designer to cover C1-C6, F6-F8 (where applicable). The PS1 shall clearly reference all relevant documents. This includes the final fire design report, all design calculations, the approved FEB document, and any other relevant supporting documents.
  • PS2 from the peer reviewer to cover C1-C6, F6-F8 (where applicable). The PS2 shall clearly reference all relevant documents, including the final fire design report, all design calculations, the approved FEB document, and any other relevant supporting documents.
  • A confirmation from the peer reviewer that the final fire design satisfies all the requirements in the approved FEB document.
  • All correspondence from the peer review process to identify how each matter raised was resolved.
  • A confirmation from the peer reviewer that the compliance schedule information is correct to the best of the peer reviewer’s knowledge.
  • Details of the proposed construction monitoring to be attached to the building consent.

The fire designer will need to carry out a design coordination review based on Engineering NZ Practice Note 22. This review is to ensure that the intent of the fire design has been correctly transferred into the consent documentation from other design disciplines.

The design disciplines whose plans and specifications require coordination include;  architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical and hydraulic.

On completing the review the fire designer issues a design coordination statement that references the documents reviewed, including their revision number and issue dates.

The documents submitted with the building consent application must be the same versions referenced by the design coordination review statement.