Engineers Role in Building Construction

The decision of the courts in the Lacrosse fire shared the alleged responsibilities on the use of the combustible cladding on different parties – builder, fire engineer, building surveyor and architect.

The builder has a responsibility as to construction however is it fair in the existing building legislation throughout Australia that engineers are reviewed by building surveyors and other professionals in fire fighting and share the responsibility of such decisions.

An engineer should be allowed to provide a building solution based on their expertise, training and experience and not have to seek acceptance from another building professional.

When the engineer is the sole professional there would not be a shared responsibility.

The paper will present an option for building legislation where the responsibilities and roles of all those involved in building design are clearly separated and defined. A history of the role of engineers in building construction will be included.

The engineering profession needs to present as the only profession that can calculate, assess and produce solutions based on engineering principles.


Mr Keith Thomas Director/Fire Engineer/Building Certifier, Thomas Management Design, Australia

Keith R Thomas is a Consultant Building Surveyor, Building Certifier, Structural and Fire Engineer and is the Director of Thomas Management Design Pty Limited T/A Thomas Independent Certification.

Keith Thomas has been involved in the building and construction industry for over 40 years having worked in Local Government, Private Sector, in advisory roles for Department of Local Government and lecturing for University and Tafe courses in building. He has qualifications in building surveying and structural and fire engineering.

Some of the areas Keith has been involved in are as follows;

  • Building Surveyor and Structural Engineer with North Sydney Council
  • Building Surveyor with Gold Coast City Council
  • Private Building Certifier responsible for assessment, approval and inspection of building projects including houses, unit developments, Department of Defence buildings, commercial, industrial and convention centres
  • Fire Engineering Performance Solutions for various projects