Fire pump system upgrade

Fire pump system upgrade

The fire pump system upgrade referred to below followed on from some work we did last year. On this day work centred on pump replacements.

Several months ago a regular client of ours requested us to run the 5 yearly hydrant test at one if their premises. Pretty quickly it was established that the necessary flow rate was not being achieved.From our the our point of view, we simply reported a TEST FAIL.  Our client choose to take further action in which we were not involved.
Almost a year later however we spent A LOT of last month in assisting with installation and commissioning  of the newly purchased replacement pumps. These were specified as like-for-like. The previous pumps were probably 20 to 30 years old. Our scope has included upgrading the associated switchboard, and a general equipment maintenance campaign, as required, to bring the whole system up to a good working order.

Here are some images of the pump house and water tank.

Image 1 – Bushes cut back at the valve station. Controls pulled out prior to re-running the wiring.


Image 2 – Re-wiring for the relocated switchboard and damaged controller wiring.




Image 3 – The old pumps ready for disposal.

I can tell you that a little bit of “gardening” came into our activities too, to ensure safe access. We are not often engaged to do gardening! – but it had to be done.

Image 4 – Pump house and water tank with the newly cleared pathway.








Fire doors – code compliance

Fire doors – achieving initial code compliance

AS1905 (*) is the code for your fire doors. We have posted before about the tired condition of some of the fire doors in older buildings. This causes them to fall out of compliance; repair is not really a practical option and we have to report non-compliant Fire doors.

4Apr2018 264 Waterdale Rd

Manufacturer’s plate on door and frame. Some compliance issues with this – can you see them?


Inspection of new fire doors should be a more straightforward process – but there are a few details to check out to verify compliance in the initial ESM checks. And don’t forget that the door set typically includes the door frame, the door seals and the latching mechanism.

There is more to fire door compliance than having the manufacturer’s plate on the side of the door and frame.

 (*) AS1905.1:2015 Components for the protection of openings in fire-resistant walls, Part 1 Fire-resistant doorsets. Refer to the code for the full requirements, only examples are cited in this post.

What your builder should provide

As well as purchasing and installing all the required fire-resistant doorsets your builder should provide you (the owner or owner’s representative) with a certificate recording final inspections, and verifying that a manual – a dossier of the necessary evidence – has been prepared.

The manual includes a full schedule of the fire-resistant doorsets, and their details. A hard copy of the manual shall be retained on site. This is obviously a critical tool in the Essential Safety Measures maintenance process. If we ever see one we’ll add a picture of it.

Rolling out the ESM maintenance process

With the new building you may also have; punchlist items, new tenants, new ESM contracts, teething problems, etc. There are potentially many pitfalls so getting established in a robust routine can take a few trips to set-up. The AS1905.1 manual for your fire doors is an important tool in establishing the proper baseline for your fire doors.

We then come along as the Maintenance Determination schedule requires and check, for example, that signage has not been removed or changed, that door closers and latches still work as they should, that obstructions have not been introduced to impede proper fire door access or operation, that the door gaps and are within the code specs, that door seals operate properly, and so on.

However if we can’t confirm that these compliance details are met from the outset, you are not getting the protection you and your tenants need. Nor are you getting what you paid for in your new-build. And you risk being non-compliant.

How can we  help you?

Don’t risk undiscovered non-compliances. Let us help you identify them and recommend your best way forward. Make sure your builder provides the fire door manual, and that it remains on site.

Call us today on 1300 134 971.

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. 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.