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NSW Draft Code of Practice for Dance Parties

8. Building Requirements

Promoters of Dance Parties often seek out unusual buildings such as warehouses and other disused industrial buildings. Regardless of whether the proposed venue is a licensed premise or a disused warehouse, it must comply with essential minimum requirements of the Local Government (Approvals) Regulations 1993 and the Building Code of Australia 1990 (BCA) concerning building structure, fire safety and sanitary provisions. (However, Councils have some discretion when dealing with existing buildings that do not strictly meet minimum requirements that are mandatory for new buildings.)

The references to the Building Code of Australia, 1990, in this Section provide a guide to KEY elements of building design and fire safety issues. The BCA should be consulted directly for technical building standards and requirements. Part A1 and the NSW Appendix A1 of the BCA contain a complete list of important definitions.

Enquiries relating to the Building Code of Australia should be directed to local councils.

Building Integrity

The integrity of the building structure and it surrounds must be sound and not be a danger to its occupants. Below are some issues to be considered when deciding on a suitable venue.


All floor surfaces must be level, structurally sound and free of hazards such as pot holes, protrusions, loose boards, worn floor coverings and debris.


Walls must be free of hazards such as loose and broken cladding, broken windows, protrusions and sharp edges.


The roof must be sound and free of hazards such as loose roofing material, insulation, light fittings and broken skylights.


Wiring must be sound and free of hazards such as exposed cables, terminals, loose plugs and switches. Wiring must not be loose or taped to the ground or floor in public areas.

A qualified electrical contractor should be consulted in each case to ensure that the electrical facilities are adequate for the proposed function.

Curtains and Drapes

All curtains and drapes must be made of flame and smoke retardant material or be treated with a flame and smoke retardant chemical.

Plastic drapes and hangings must not be used under any circumstances.

Building Capacity

Part D1.13 of the BCA provides for the number of persons according to use.

Area per person according to use

Auditorium (for public entertainment) - 1 square metre of floor area per person

Dance Floor - 0.5 square metres per person

Other areas - 1.2 square metres per person

All calculations are in square metres and are dependent upon the variables of exit provisions, sanitary provisions and car parking requirements being adequate for the proposed capacity.


An 'exit' is any internal or external stairway, ramp, fire-isolated passageway, or doorway, if they provide exit to an open space. All exit doors must be easily opened into an open space which is free from obstruction. All passages leading to an exit, must be well maintained and free from obstruction.

Exit provisions are determined by Section D of the BCA which includes detailed specifications for the provision of escape and construction of exits.

Numbers of Exits Required

For all buildings there must be a minimum number of two exits from each floor, including the basement.

Exit Travel Distances

There can be up to a maximum of 80 metres from any point on the floor to an exit.

Distance Between Alternative Exits

There should be a minimum of 9 metres between alternative exits and a maximum of 60 metres between alternative exits. Alternative exits are to be located so that alternative paths of travel to those exits do not converge to the extent that they becomes less than 6 metres apart inside the building. The openings where the alternative exit paths leave the building must be as far apart as possible.

Dimensions of Exits

An exit which is a doorway must have a minimum height of 1980mm. All other exits must have a minimum height of 2 metres.

An exit must have a minimum width of 1 metre and a maximum width of 3 metres. The aggregate (or total) required width of exits must be provided on the basis of one metre per 100 persons, or part thereof, present on the premises.

Exit Signs, Emergency Lighting And Warning Systems

Exit signs, emergency lighting and warning systems must comply with BCA, Part E4.

Exit signs

All entertainment venues must be fitted with exit signs that are clearly visible to persons approaching the exit and must be installed on, above or next to each required exit.

All exit signs must be installed so that if the normal power supply fails, emergency illumination is provided to the sign. Exit signs must comply with Australian Standard 2293.1.

Emergency lighting

Emergency lighting must be provided in entertainment venues where the floor area of that storey is more than 300 square metres, or any point on the floor of that storey is more than 20 metres from the nearest doorway opening directly to a stairway, ramp, passageway, road or open space.

Emergency lighting must also be provided if exiting from that storey involves a vertical rise within the building of more than 1.5 metres, or any vertical rise if the storey does not admit sufficient light.

Every emergency lighting system must operate automatically and give sufficient illumination without undue delay for the safe evacuation of all areas of the building.

Emergency lighting must comply with Australian Standard 2293.1. Enquiries about Australian Standard 2293.1 and emergency lighting should be made to a qualified electrical contractor for electrical installations, and to local Council for the BCA.


Unlicensed premises such as warehouses and disused factories often have flooring which includes ramps, loading bays and balconies which are not fitted with suitable barriers. It is strongly recommended that balustrades be provided where the threat of injury exists, taking into account low light levels and the possible intoxication of patrons.

Balustrades must be put in if the level is more than 1 metre above the floor. Handrails must be 865 mm high. On required exit paths, balustrades must be 1 metre high if inside the building, and 1.2 metres high if outside the building.

Doorways And Doors

Required exits must be fitted with swing doors which open outwards from the building. However, automatic sliding doors are allowed on the main entrance. Revolving doors, collapsible gates, accordion doors, turnstiles or rigid barriers are not acceptable.

Many unlicensed venues are fitted with large sliding doors and roller doors which do not meet the requirements for places of public entertainment. However, local Councils may accept sliding and roller doors as exits in a venue if:

  • the doors meet the minimum requirements of distance of travel to exits, and aggregate width;
  • the doors are key-locked in the open position while the premises are occupied, and the key is held by the promoters.

Artificial lighting

Artificial lighting must be provided in entertainment venues to provide a safe and comfortable environment in accordance with Australian Standard 1680 to all rooms that will be occupied by the public/patrons, and all corridors, lobbies, internal stairways and other circulation spaces and paths of exit.

Fire Fighting Equipment

Fire Hydrants

A fire hydrant system must be provided to service a building with a floor area greater than 500 square metres, and where an operational fire service is available to attend a building fire. Fire hydrants must comply with Australian Standards 2419.

Hose Reels

A hose reel system must be provided to serve the whole building where one or more internal hydrants are installed.

Where internal hydrants are not installed, a suitable hose reel system must be provided to serve any fire compartment with a floor area greater than 500 square metres. Hose reels must comply with Australian Standard 2441.

Portable fire extinguishers

Portable fire extinguishers containing an extinguishing agent suitable for the fire risk being protected against, must be provided in every building.

Water type extinguishers need not be installed in a building or part of a building served by a fire hose reel.

Portable fire extinguishers must be provided and installed in accordance with Australian Standard 2444. Enquiries about Australian Standard 2441 and 2444, fire extinguishers and more specialised requirements for sprinklers and alarms should be made to the local Council.


The Building Code of Australia, 1990 provides for sanitary provisions for buildings such as public halls and function rooms as follows:

Sanitary Facilities:

patrons closet fixture(s)

1 2 each extra Urinal(s)

1 2 each extra Washbasin(S)

1 2 each extra

Males 100 300 200 50 100 50 up to 250 100 over 250 Note: 1 urinal = 600 mm 1 w/c can substitute 1 urinal or every 600 mm 50 200 200

Females 25 50 50 up to 250 100 over 250

50 150 200

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