Sub-divided commercial properties
Part 3 – Equipment difficult to find or access
It looks like they should have relocated this hydrant point when the new tanks were installed.
It looks like they should have relocated this hydrant point when the new tanks were installed.
While investigating the hardware in our client’s half-century old warehouse we came across this vintage sprinkler.
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
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.
Firstly From the Oct2017 issue of The Master Electrician magazine
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.
Send an email to request for to tell us what other articles to record.
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.
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.
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.
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
Last night, having dozed off in front of the TV, I awoke to this BBC doco on apartment fires and rescue crews.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Call us on 1300 134 971 for your routine fire protection system servicing.
It helps save lives.
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.
This week we conducted a preliminary fire monitor test.
View this short video taken during the test.
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.
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.
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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
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.
Call us 1300 134 971 if you require pressure, flow or boost testing on your hydrant system.
As well as having the AS1905 tag and proper signage, the key thing to look for in fire doors or smoke doors is the edge gaps.
The codes are clear on permitted gaps all round your doors. And faults are easy to see.
What can you do about it if your door and door frame combination doesn’t meet current standards?
Do you have to make retrospective remediation?
The answer is clear – you must do what you can to improve your building safety. This includes improvements which may only be a recommendation. You know it’s the right thing to do AND we can help make it easier for you.
We can identify and install modifications to get better performance from your existing fire doors and smoke doors.
Image 1 Here is a door frame with door seals added along the top and also on each side.
Our routine service will identify if your fire door gaps, top sides or bottom, are code compliant. If not we can recommend, purchase and install the necessary equipment to achieve gap compliance – and improved safety for your building in the event of a fire.
Call us on 1300 134 971. Let us help you with your Essential Safety Measures service requirements including routine AS1851 compliance inspection, repair and reporting.
Our Fire Protection Services customers sometimes come to us with tales of woe regarding substandard work done by previous service providers. Corner cutting seems to take place when prices have been cut too low, to win the work. However you can’t actually keep supplying services where the contract price doesn’t cover your costs. Something has to give and although AS 1851 is quite clear on scheduling of routine services and frequency of inspection of each function of each type of equipment it is all too easy to fall behind.
We pride ourselves on keeping on top of things That is what you pay us for after all. But to ensure no complacency creeps in we occasionally have one of our guys do a follow up check on routine servicing, just to be sure.
Call 1300 134 971