Death not in vain

THE horrific death of a woman who jumped from an apartment block to escape a fire in Bankstown almost seven years ago, has led to improvements to the National Construction Code.

New fire code after unit death

Connie Zhang died and her 27-year-old friend Yino Jiang was seriously injured when they were forced to jump from a fifth storey window to escape the fire in September 2012, which caused the evacuation of 144 residential apartments.

The apartment block was not required to have sprinklers installed.
Builders will now be required to install automatic sprinkler systems in all new residential apartment buildings above three storeys to protect lives and property following improvements to the National Construction Code.
Minister for Emergency Services, David Elliott, said the changes would improve the safety of occupants in shared residential buildings up to 25 metres.
“Sprinkler systems have been used to protect lives and property in high-rise residential, industrial and commercial buildings for a very long time,” Mr Elliott said.
“Our focus remains on prevention; however, in the event of a fire, residential sprinklers help control it and provide improved protection against fatalities, injuries and damage. They can often mean the difference between a minor incident and a major tragedy.”
FRNSW Commissioner and Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC) President Paul Baxter said FRNSW’s extensive research revealed stronger measures were needed to ensure best practice fire safety prevention in shared residential buildings.
“Residential sprinkler systems can contain at least 90 per cent of fires to the room of origin, preventing it from spreading to other rooms and potentially extinguishing the fire and inhibiting the spread of lethal smoke,” Mr Baxter said.