Your questions answered

Your questions answered

We often find when we arrive on site that Owners and Facility Managers are keen to meet code and industry standards, but are looking for better ways to achieve this. Or they may have created a novel solution and they want to show us their “new idea”.

Another bunch of queries we get relate to the need for certain practices, or a better understanding of the reasoning behind some compliance requirements, and critically, how they can lower their costs. We are only too happy to assist our client to get a better understanding, and get rid of cost ineffective activities, or help reduce costs by working together with a clear understanding of the essentials

Upcoming Blog topics

In fact we get some questions over and over again so we’ve outlined a handful of Blog topics below.
Feel free to comment on this topic list or raise additional topics if your favourite is missing.just want a second opinion on .  Plz don’t use the “Leave a comment” link on our Blog page (because it is “broken” at present). Instead send an email to Drew – he loves emails from clients.


Seq Title wk
1 Fire blanket deployed 8
2 PLAN for the year. 11
1  Fire Alarm Installation
2  Block plans for buildings
3  Hydrant flow testing
4  Repairing a fire alarm system
5  Monthly Maintenance of a fire alarm system
6  My fire pump controller: We have the answer to let you sleep at night. Ps – What is a PRV and can it save my building?
7  What is the difference between a conventional and analogue fire detector
8  Why do I have to test my sprinkler heads? Why do the chemical properties of sprinkler heads change?
9  I’m getting quotes for essential services but I don’t know what I’m getting quotes for? Heres our easy to read guide on what you are asking for.
10  How do you test a buildings passive elements? What should the report look like?
11  How do you test a fire hose reel?
12  Why would you choose MFE over a big company? I think the answer depends!
13  Why are sprinkler fitters so expensive?
14  Scope: You need to know what you are asking for when getting a quote for essential services, it makes a big difference… or does it?
15  Difference between preparing an AESMR for $120, for free, paying someone $500.00 or paying $$$$ for an audit……..
16  How do do your own AESMR? Would you like us to do it for you?
17  Who should you trust with your fire inspections?  Do I go with a big company or a small company? How can I tell the difference between a good and bad company?
18  What are passive fire inspections?
19  What to do with old fire extinguishers
20  Why do conventional smoke alarms only last 10 years

Of course we’ll still write posts about the interesting, and downright weird, things we come across as we go about our regular fire maintenance inspection business.


Fire extinguishers – used as intended

Fire extinguishers.

Fire management equipment can be seen every where, but how often do you see it used in an emergency? Earlier this month one of our clients had cause to deploy a dry powder fire extinguisher and a fire blanket, in a busy commercial kitchen. The fire was quickly controlled. They then contacted us to replace the two pieces of used equipment.

These pieces of equipment are both classed as fire extinguishers.

Fire blanket

This fire blanket was quickly and effectively deployed. It was hanging nearby the fire and the kitchen staff quickly pulled the two straps as intended, to release the blanket and spread it quickly over the fire. In this case, only scorch marks on the blanket remain.

The red pack shows how to get hold of your blanket;
and how to re-fold the fire blanket, but this is not required as the fire blanket should be disposed of after use.

For effective use the fire blanket must be mounted by hanging it from above, within easy reach, and with no obstruction to quick access.



The blanket must comply with AS/NZS 3504. Nevertheless most fire blankets we see were made in China.


Below is the commonly available Aldi product, which of course, still complies with the standard. It is used in exactly the same way. Again – these are NOT to be re-folded after use, but discarded.







How can we help?

Call us on 1300 134 971.

We can confirm your fire blankets and other fire extinguishers are code compliant and properly mounted. We will arrange to check them on a regular basis and replace them quickly if they are used (following your call) or if they are found to be out of date.

Sub-divided commercial properties

Sub-divided commercial properties

Part 2 – an ancient specimen

While investigating the hardware in our client’s half-century old warehouse we came across this vintage sprinkler.

Kraft Crt Broady

Image 3 – sprinkler fitting on sprinkler branch line, running just under the roof


Note the older style trigger device. Metal tabs made of lead  (Pb) are set to soften at the trigger temperature, allowing the valve to open under the constant water pressure.

Stamped on the sprinkler head is 160 degrees. This would be the trigger temperature, in degrees Fahrenheit, at which the lead tabs would give way – equivalent to about 75 degrees Celsius.



This item indicates its date of manufacture, 1966, which is consistent with our understanding of the age of the original part of the warehouse.

Look out for Sub-divided commercial properties – Part 3

Talking book articles from ME mag

Talking book articles from ME mag

Drew is interested in providing regular Blog posts for the benefit of our clients. He also wants to provide some reference to trade magazines; such periodicals as The Master Electrician, Facility Perspective (for Facility Managers and their support contractors) and Fire Australia (from FPA). Send us an email with your feedback. So here is my idea – Talking book articles from ME mag … and others. You can use these like a podcast, which you may find more accessible than reading the magazine itself.

Here goes

Firstly From the Oct2017 issue of The Master Electrician magazine

  • The Contents list SDR_0003
  • Article about AS3000 revision due out soon : SDR_0004
  • Article about Tesla FarmsSDR_0007

Here is a link to Fire Australia, the FPA magazine site

And from the Facility Perspective – relevant to our Essential Safety Measures area of business.

  • Article about Non-compliant claddingSDR_0006

Once again here is that familiar image.




Send an email to request for to tell us what other articles to record.



Sub-divided commercial properties

Sub-divided commercial properties

Part 1

Last month we were called to investigate the fitness for purpose of the fire protection equipment – wet side – in a property our client has owned for several years.

Kraft Crt Broady

Image 1 sprinkler valve manifold

The building had originally been built half a century ago as an East-West running warehouse. Over the years a number of substantial extensions had been added at each end. A sprinkler isolation manifold was required and was added to, as can be seen – Image 1. Our client’s property looks like it was part of the original build.

About a decade ago the entire building was sub-divided and sold-off as separate compartments, isolated by closing off doorways in the existing North-South walls, and adding new walls where required. This happened a couple of years before our client bought in.

Kraft Crt Broady

Image 2 – the hydrant and sprinkler mains run overhead

The original building featured a 200 NB hydrant ring main and 150 NB sprinkler supply – both lines run East -West inside the North and South building walls, just under the roof line – Image 2. As each major extension was built, it appears the ring main piping had also been extended, to the East or the West as required. Today, these ring mains are common to all the new owners.

Our initial area of focus was investigation of the adequacy of this protective equipment for our client’s ongoing business. It also quickly became apparent that routine servicing and testing of this equipment would need to involve all the current owners.

No drawings & drawing conflicts

Disappointingly but not unusually, there are no available drawings of where these lines run, how they connect to the mains supply or interconnect to the hydrant branches or sprinkler water distribution lines. Concerningly there are at least two versions of the block drawings for the sprinkler isolation valve manifold – and they are not in agreement. This means that time and water could be wasted trying to establish partial isolation during a fire event.

Look out for Sub-divided commercial properties – Part 2


Apartment fires

Apartment fires – don’t let this be you

From BBC program on iView

Just after midnight 14 June 2017 Grenfell Tower, London – 24 storeys

Last night, having dozed off in front of the TV, I awoke to this BBC doco on apartment fires and rescue crews.


From BBC program on iView

Still burning many hours later




The TV show is mostly about the tough experiences “Inside London Fire Brigade”, particularly for the rescuers themselves, during and after disasters like the recent Grenfell Tower fire.


The show also includes quite a few less spectacular apartment fires, most without any loss of life. London, a city of 8 million certainly throws up many and varied fires each day.

From BBC program on iView

Smaller apartment fire

Elevated platform with hose delivering 2,300 L/min

All residents are out but the fire persists in the wall cavities, The building walls must be broken down bit by bit till water can reach the seat of the fire.









The destruction and loss felt by residents who have dragged themselves out on to the streets without warning, and now have nothing but the clothes on their back (and their pet in their arms) was apparent again and again.

The images in this program certainly underline the importance of our work. I could just see our client’s faces amongst those distraught residents.

From BBC program on iView

Authorities identify residents amongst the distraught by-standers


From BBC program on iView

Eventually the fire is out. It may be possible to enter some apartments for limited recovery of belongings …

From BBC program on iView

… including Nelson







Be prepared

Preparedness is not just about keeping your family photos in a bag near the door, or a cat box to ensure that your pet makes it out when you run for your life.Initially your building is designed and built to be safe, and this integral safety must be maintained and re-confirmed regularly. The Australian codes and Victorian Building Regulations combined aim to prevent known design faults being incorporated in buildings under construction or refurbishment. They also mandate routine servicing requirements to keep the various building safety features in place and operable.

External cladding material

I’m sure apartment dwellers everywhere in 2017 are concerned about the fabric of construction of the place they call home.

We look forward to the issue of investigative reports and action plans related to cladding materials installed in new or refurnished buildings in recent years. This will set to rest the concerns of some, and focus the resources necessary to mitigate risks in the buildings which need it.

Business as usual

Some of the simplest checks are the most important – such as visually confirming paths of travel. Resident awareness of the dangers helps keep paths clear. But frequently confirming that everyone in your apartment building sticks to this practice – that’s our job. These fundamental escape route checks include:

  • seeing that paths of travel within your building are clear
  • checking exit doors are openable
  • ensuring the path beyond the exit door is clear
  • that fire doors and smoke doors are fit for purpose, with no big gaps round their edges, and close properly unaided.
  • that fire stairs remain unblocked and easy to use.

Call us

Call us on 1300 134 971 for your routine fire protection system servicing.

It helps save lives.


Hydrant test success

Hydrant test success

Over the past few weeks  we’ve had to abandon a few annual and 5 yearly hydrant tests due mainly to leakage, or other hitches with the installed equipment. But today we went back and conducted the full test program for two clients which went just as planned (apart from the rain! – let’s do these hydrant tests in nice weather next time Drew.)

We were even thanked with an invitation to pocket some of their manufactured goods – mmm, delicious.

Photos and more details to follow.

Testing a Fire Monitor – Melbourne

Fire Monitor test

This week we conducted a preliminary fire monitor test.

View this short video taken during the test.

Fire Monitor Testing

We tested the fire monitor which is designed for use in in a high hazard environment. In the video the monitor is shooting between 50 – 100 meters across a field. A fire monitor can deliver a high flow stream of water.

The flow can also incorporate a foaming agent. When foam is required, the water flow is used to suck in a foam concentrate. The combined flow is then sprayed as a foam onto the fire in order to smother a pool fire. A pool fire is a very dangerous fire configuration generally associated with flammable liquids, particularly in flammable storage facilities or transport accidents involving large quantities of flammable fuels.



Hydrant system fails

Hydrant system fails

It’s never good to find that a hydrant system fails and doesn’t perform as it is required to. But you certainly don’t want to wait to find out in a genuine fire event – a life or death emergency.

Fire hydrant systems are designed for a long life and are sufficiently robust that performance checks are not as frequent as many of the other routine service checks.

Hydrant testing – part of routine service

We do plenty of routine service checks on your different types of fire protection equipment over the months and years. We often see gradual deterioration in your equipment as can be expected.The aim is to give timely advice on repair or replace, so you are not caught without reliable equipment. Sometimes we find that a recent change or an unrelated event has damaged a piece of your system. Again we identify these and get your gear back on track as soon as practical.

However, we have seen an increase in new customers who are seeking only the specific annual or 5 yearly hydrant system tests. The word has got out about our capabilities in these tests. 🙂

Surprisingly we find a number of tests we’ve conducted recently have failed in one way or another. Our clients have told us that the test hasn’t been done “since we moved in here” 10 or maybe 15 years ago. What has prompted them to request a test that hasn’t been on their maintenance program before? – we can’t be sure. Perhaps insurance premium renewal time has identify the gap in test data?

For sure – a failure in this equipment is not something you want to be discovering in the event of a fire at your premises.

What sort of failures?

Fail type 1

– Failure of mains pressure. It looks like you have pressure in the line but as soon as you open the valves a dribble falls out – insufficient water and not able to be applied at any distance. The requirement is 600 litre/min whilst maintaining a residual pressure of 650 kPa. If your local supply pressure can’t achieve this, it might be time to contact your water supplier or your council.

From March 2017 blog

This shows a flow rate of only 500 LPM, no residual pressure

Fail type 2

– Static pressure test fail in the piping which feeds your various hydrants. The test pressure requirement is 1700 kPa, for which we run our small jockey pump.  With all the hydrants closed the piping must hold for 90 minutes without pressure drop. Leaking valves will prevent a successful test – it won’t be possible to reach the required pressure, even briefly. This means getting the plumber in, yours or ours., to refurbish the valves. We can then attempt the pressure test again.

Fail type 3

– Failure to hold for the duration of the pressure test. This can happen if the piping has some weakness, perhaps due to internal rust, which can give way during the 90 minutes at the test pressure. We will see the test pressure hold at the start of the test but then the pressure drops, perhaps slowly, or quite rapidly.  This will only rarely be a dramatic failure, however sensible safety precautions are taken.

With this type of failure we will generally shutdown the pump straight away, though we may keep the pump running briefly to help locate the leak. Leak detection however is not always an easy process and we may require leak detection equipment and specialists. It’s not a good plan to continue pumping into a leaking system since the water will be collecting some where you don’t want it.

So what?

Each of these types of failure indicate that the fire protection equipment would not able to perform as intended in a fire emergency. Periodic testing is essential for you to have the certainty you and your tenants need. It is also a regulatory requirement that the fire equipment mandated at your particular facility is periodically tested. This is essential to confirm its ongoing reliability for use during an emergency event.

Each of the failures mentioned has some required follow-up investigation or repair work, by us or by other service providers, as the owner’s choose.

How can we help.

Call us 1300 134 971 if you require pressure, flow or boost testing on your hydrant system.