Week 19 No.1 – Block plans

Block plans or block diagrams

Designers and engineers create drawings during the design phase for planning, review, approval and then construction of a building. Once these documents have served their prime purpose, and the occupancy permit is issued, the key drawings remain important for a number of reasons.  These reasons include

  • locating facilities and equipment for use
  • identifying and locating equipment for routine maintenance
  • serving as the basis for later modifications to the building
  • identifying the emergency equipment for occupants in an emergency
  • identifying and locating essential safety measures, (Note 1) and applying the maintenance requirements of the occupancy permit or the Maintenance Determination developed for the ongoing equipment integrity, generally using AS1851.
  • providing critical information to first responders in an emergency
  • providing information to investigators following a significant incident or emergency


  1. Essential Safety Measures, refer Building code of Australia BCA2006
  2. Reference Australian Standard AS1851-2012 Maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment
  3. AS851 states that baseline data is necessary to benchmark the performance of fire protection systems and equipment and this baseline data may include block plan information.

What is meant by Block plan information?

Block plans are generally represented as plan or layout views (i.e.as seen from overhead). For buildings of more than two or three levels an elevation (i.e. side view) will also be used. They are as complex as they need to be, for example a simple drawing identified as ” Level 2 Building evacuation plan” and a more detailed drawing for a multilevel building with it’s own basement fire water pump. These drawings are not to scale but most usefully must show relative positions and indicative proportions. These drawings may simply show schematics of equipment with a equipment represented by a block, and lines to represent a wall, fire water pipe or a communication signal, whatever may be relevant

Image 1. A complex schematic showing multiple building entrances and water supply points.

Image 2. A basement layout showing only smoke detectors









Image 3. An elevation of a multi storey building with fire pump in the basement

Image 4. Fire alarm panel with an alarm connection schematic


Image 5 Simple evacuation diagram for a hotel – level 2

Image 6 Hydrant layouts in a 5 storey building – mostly UNREADABLE

Image 7. No block plan or and drawing at all!








How can we help you ?

If your block plans need updating, or are missing, we can help. Let’s see what drawings you already have. If needs be, we can visit your site to gather data and discuss with you the drawing or package of drawings that would best meet your compliance needs.

Call us on 1300 134 971


Week 15 No.2 – Hydrant boost test

Hydrant boost test

Last week saw another hydrant boost test. This site has terrific mains pressure and supply rate, but the on-site fire water pipe system was found to have a leak. This prevented the system achieving the full test pressure. Our plumber will do a repair visit, along with the necessary refurbishment of all valve seals, then we’ll re-schedule the full hydrant boost test.

Here we are closing off after the trial pressure test failed.


We’ll be back.





Can we help you?

Call us to book your 5 yearly hydrant boost test for AS1851 compliance 1300 134 971

Week 15 No.1 – Thermal detectors

Early fire warning

You hear a lot in the media about smoke detectors and their importance in early fire detection and life saving. However some parts of your home, apartment block or business premises are not suitable for smoke detectors, eg. where dust may be present and could produce a false alarm. In these locations the design of your fire protection system may include heat or thermal detectors.

Thermal detectors

These often look very like your smoke detectors so you may not be aware of them. Like smoke detectors, they will generally be hard-wired into your electrical system and send a signal back to the fire indicator panel. They also require battery back-up, to ensure functionality in the event of loss-of-power.  Code requirement is that all alarms should sound if any one is triggered.

Like all detectors they require routine maintenance and testing.  First of all we switch your Fire Indicating Panel to test mode.

Image 1 Testing apparatus

Image 1 show testing equipment we use for the different detector types., typically used for ceiling or wall mounted detectors.

The test unit on the left (standing upright in the photo) uses a smoke dispersing aerosol to fill the cup, for testing smoke detectors. The test unit on the right (lying down int he photo) shows the heating elements of the thermal test unit which is shown in Image 3. Both detectors have an extension handle for ease of testing on ceiling mounted detectors, and a tilt facility to enable testing of wall mounted detectors.

The cup of the test unit is held over the detector (Image 3) for the test duration and an alarm must sound within the prescribed time.


Thermal detectors are to be tested annually. Thermal detectors require to be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, generally after 10 years.

We also check your back-up batteries on our routine visit, and replace them when required.

Image 2 – Thermal detector; ceiling mounted in basement car park

Image 3 – Thermal testing & timing the response










We carry a variety of thermal detectors so we can easily make a like-for-like swap out of your expired detectors.



After testing is complete, the Fire Indicating Panel is returned to normal operating mode.

How can we help you?

Give us a call if your Essential Safety Measures maintenance isn’t getting the attention it needs.

Call 1300 134 971.

We’ll help keep your family safe over Easter.

Week 14 No.1 – Trouble with the VBA ?

Don’t risk trouble with the VBA

Earlier this year we were invited to provide a quote for ongoing routine maintenance of Essential Safety Measures at a block of apartments. Our site investigation pretty quickly revealed a number of non-compliances which had been built into the place from day one – only a few years ago. We mainly handle work in the new build or ongoing maintenance part of the industry and are not registered for surveillance audits. A registered building surveyor, for example, could formally identify the fixes required here, which we, in due course, could look at implementing. So in this case we declined to quote and briefly advised the Facility Manager why.

A few weeks passed, and the Facility Manager has called us again. On advice from the VBA apparently, the local council will be coming round for an inspection. The FM has asked if we can provide any advice on how he should proceed. Hmm – we’re still thinking about that. Seems it’s all come as a bit of a surprise to him but, as per some of the evidence we saw in our initial visit, the building has had problems from the outset. The VBA had been tracking back some overdue items and it looks like some action, and expense, will be have to be undertaken. Now the council is getting involved too.

We can’t emphasise enough the importance of compliance with your Essential Safety requirements. Not only might the resident’s safety or property be at risk, but the authorities may take a keen interest too.

Our obligations in Essential Safety maintenance is more than simply paying the visits and ticking the boxes – we have to be sure that the equipment identified in your maintenance determination is, and remains, in full code compliance and is fit for purpose. In this case there were problems for a while; these could have lead to serious consequences, had there been a fire for example. Earlier identification and persistent follow-up may have lead to rectification closer to the construction phase of the facility. This may yet be part of the solution, but oh so messy.

Let’s hope you never have this worry.


Week 12 No.1 – Fire Equipment Service Melbourne

This blog has previously mentioned our work amongst fine old dames of the Melbourne CBD. Greater Melbourne has many fine heritage buildings as well. While some have had major face lifts or even been re-purposed, we went off to Healesville to perform our regular maintenance activities on two iconic hotels which have served the local and travelling communities pretty continuously for over a century. And of course their Essential Services require regular maintenance to comply with the standards we all expect.

Healesville – The Healesville Hotel

On a lovely day in March, and there have been a few, we are scheduled to run our routine maintenance checks in the Healesville Hotel.


As usual we start with opening the fire alarm panel, and we select test mode before we get going.

Fire alarm panel

A quick visual check of the fire response equipment is undertaken on each level.

In this case we had been advised that one of the extinguishers had been discharged, so we brought a replacement.  You can see that the pressure gauge on the depleted unit shows 0 kPa. This unit had been withdrawn and held in the office.









Before finishing we admire the shipment of fine wines just delivered and about to be properly stowed  – we’d love to stay and help with that – maybe another time.

 Healesville – Grand Hotel

Healesville 2014

… and since 2016, a facelift on the outside and a good polish up inside too







Again a check of the fire alarm panel for any messages of alarms and confirm that everything is consistent with full functionality.

We check go through various prompts and update the log books as we go.







Again we check all the fire equipment on each level and confirm that the schematics posted on each level, for the use of guests, is in alignment with the actual equipment in place.






All is good in these Hotels, and the diners can get on with their pallet cleansers.

We can help you

We are experts in Essential Services maintenance and upgrades. We can help you comply with your Maintenance Determination for buildings modified since 1994, or work with you to achieve compliance in older buildings which have not been upgraded.

Call us today on 1300 134 971.

Week 12 No.2 – Fire Hydrant Flow Test – Why it should be done

Fire hydrant flow testing

This week we were requested to flow test a hydrant in the northern suburbs. We were requested to get the check for the following flow rates 5 L/s,10 L/s,15 L/s and 20 L/s for the purposes of preliminary checks before extending the system. We found that the hydrant was only just able to achieve 5 L/s and flat lined at 0 kPa trying to achieved 10 L/s. This could be a real problem if the fire brigade attended and tried to get water out of the hydrant service as they may end up sucking the main dry!

Are you meant to be flow testing?

If you are meant to be testing your building to any standard which requires flow test, ensure your maintenance company takes a quick video of the flow test and emails it to you, so you have evidence the flow test actually occurred and achieved the required results.

Why should you bother?

According to Austbrokers Countrywide, when inspecting risk for the business they insure, they most often find that the site is missing the flow test records. THis is for tests on both the hydrant system and the sprinkler set. If the brigade were to attempt use your hydrant to put out a fire in your building, would the required pressure and flow be available? If the water is insufficient it would delay any fire attack the fire brigade would be undertaking as they would need to run hoses to the next available fire hydrant in the area.

How Can we Help?

We are able to flow test your fire hydrant services on an annual basis, we flag a reminder in our system, and simply come out and flow test as required. We have attached a really basic video which we take when flow testing, the camera work isn’t great but it does provide you with confidence that the test actually occurred.

If you need boost, pressure or flow testing give MFE a call today on 1300 134 971.

Week 11 No.1 Smoke detectors

Smoke detector testing

Smoke detectors save lives.

We hear this often, when news items come up about house fires especially.  This reminder about smoke detectors underlines how important our job is, and your role too, in ensuring your tenants are adequately protected.


For contracts where we perform your routine smoke detector tests you can rest assured we have you covered for AS1851 compliance on monthly, six-monthly, yearly and five-yearly testing.


We visit our client premises on a routine basis to conduct the tests due for the respective period.

Firstly we switch your fire alarm panel to test mode to prevent unnecessary alarms or fire brigade calls. Then we make the standard PA announcement of the testing regime about to be commenced.

Panel switched to test mode

We bring the test equipment we require.







Half of the devices are required to be tested each cycle and we take care to ensure each device gets its fair share of testing. We also routinely confirm that no changes on site have adversely affected the coverage of your existing smoke detection devices.








If any device is found to fail, or due to be replaced, we’ll raise a work order request so you are aware of the event, and generally our contract with you authorises this expenditure.

Our tests are recorded on the spot in the AS1851 compliance reports, which are retained on your site for seven years. These reports are immediately accessible to the fire brigade and other authorised parties, should they attend your site for any reason.

Once the test are over and written up, the fire alarm panel is returned to normal operating mode.

Repair and replacement

We’ll generally make a follow-up visit for the changeover of expired or faulty devices. Here we are replacing a faulty smoke detector in a resident’s room in an aged care facility. The device being installed was selected for compatibility with the alarm panel in this particular facility.

The failed device, identified in an earlier visit.

New smoke detector installed






Call us

See you at your’s next month, or call us.

Week 10 No.2 – Hydrant boost test, South Melbourne

Five yearly hydrant boost test

This week we had a date with 40 Albert Road, South Melbourne, for a five yearly hydrant boost test.

Image 1 – Early start to beat the traffic, still finding the red lights.

Image 2 – 40 Albert Road, South Melbourne









Setting up

We check the local mains pressure at ground level. After a short line flush we head upstairs. The highest part of the building is the open deck on the roof. The nearest hydrant is on the floor below, so our hose is connected.

We check the hydrant pressure achieved here from the mains pressure alone.

Image 3 – Initial hydrant flush, ground level, while waiting for this parking space to clear.

Image 4 – Hose from the top floor hydrant to the roof

Image 5 – Hose under pressure







Image 6 – Water gushes from the flow test device


Initial hydrant test

The test starts with a static pressure reading. Then we open the flow test device to record the dynamic pressure and flow rate. This requires water to flow and in this particular building the roof gutters carry the water to a storm-water containment reservoir, for processing.
(Note:- Checking the drainage is not part of our test. However a previous test in these premises, by others, lead to flooding on the top floor. Careful execution ensured we did not repeat their expensive incident.)

Booster test

In the second part of the test we run the big pump in the fire truck to boost the mains pressure to the achieve the prescribed pressure. We pressure test the hydrant system at the higher pressure without any flow (static pressure), then a brief burst of water allows the flow rate and pressure (dynamic pressure) at the roof to be measured again.


Image 9 – Two hoses connect the mains supply to our truck. Flow returns at the boosted pressure, into the building hydrant system.

Image 8 – Two hoses feed into the on-board pump. Two hoses run back to the building’s hydrant system.

Image 7 – Hoses crossing the footpath in a location with many pedestrians require continuous traffic management.








Image 10 – Frida the fire truck – most greatly admired by the passing pram traffic.

A successful day’s work for the first city outing of our fire truck.

Your next hydrant boost test

We’d love to help you with your next five yearly hydrant boost test. Give us a call on 1300 134 971


Week 10 No.1 – Fire Hydrant Boost Testing – Our latest addition  

Our Latest Addition!

We are were very excited this week to receive a new addition to our fleet. This ex NSW urban pumper has come off the line and straight into service as our second boost testing truck. This truck, whilst over 20 years old has done very little work. It has travelled less than 100 km per week for its entire life! The new truck will out-perform on boost testing hydrant systems!

Pumping System

The pump is directly driven off the PTO on the truck engine, with 4 inlets on the bottom of the pump and 4 outlets on the top of the pump. This means we are able to test most large sites without any trouble.

Key Features of MFE Boost Testing.

  1. We operate all of our boost testing under the supervision of a registered plumber.
  2. We use micrometers to measure the flow of water
  3. If required we are able to perform the overhauling of the hydrant service prior to undertaking the boost and pressure test.
  4. Our reports are simple to read!
  5. We provide a short video as evidence of the pressure and flow testing.
  6. For the more difficult sites for access we are able to undertake pressure and flow testing on the weekends where required.
  7. If you dont have a block plan we are able to assist, we have draftsman on staff who are able to re create your block plan if needed.

Watch out for our upcoming post capturing the action when we used this truck in in busy South Melbourne to perform a five yearly hydrant booster test.

If you are looking for a company to complete your five yearly boost and pressure testing give us call today! We would love to help!


Week 8 no.1 – Heritage buildings

Essential safety compliance in Melbourne’s heritage buildings

Some contractors may prefer to avoid them but we have helped more than a few city addresses to rise gracefully to meet the safety expectations of the 21st century. It’s not too daunting. In fact it’s a pleasure to work with these old dames of Melbourne.

Some date back to a time not far removed from the gold boom, when Melbourne was fleetingly one of the world’s richest cities.

260 Lt Collins St, Melbourne

The modern appearance in the entrance area, disguises a city apartment building created in times gone by – in this case a stunning Art Deco building.

It was recently extended  and spruced up to look pretty smart. And of course the fires services had to be brought up to current standards.






The simple, modernised apartments on the floor above street level are provided with an original timber fire escape – not seen in new builds but permitted here only with dispensation and additional safe-guards.



Timber fire escape

Fire alarm panel near a ground floor escape path, provides easy Fire Brigade access


The fully up-to-date alarm panel is located near the street, in a revitalised (that is, painted black – it’s a Melbourne thing!) fire stair which is available to the some of the ground floor and first floor tenants.