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.


Fire door repairs and maintenance melbourne

Fire door seals

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.

How can we help?

We can identify and install modifications to get better performance from your existing fire doors and smoke doors.

Door seals

260 Lt Collins St

Image 1 Side and Top seals on the fire door frame

  • door seals for top and sides B – these can be added to seal door gaps and so achieve fire durations outlined in the codes. Proprietary items are available to meet the temperatures and durations of the code. They don’t have to endure a fire till it is extinguished or save your building. Their critical performance is to provide enough time for people to exit the building safely.

Image 1 Here is a door frame with door seals added along the top and also on each side.





260 Lt Collins

Image 2 Drop-down door seal to seal a below door gap

  • drop-down door seals – these nifty gadgets lift for ease of operation when opening and closing the door. Once the door is in the closed position a mechanism allows a seal to drop-down and seal the gap from smoke and excess oxygen supply to feed the fire.
    Image 2 shows a drop-down door seal. The fitting along the lower edge of the door has a button on the hinge side, which is triggered once the door closes against the frame. The internal mechanism causes the drop-down seal to lower, and holds the seal against the floor surface under the door.

How can we help?

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.

Quality Control

Quality Control

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 us

Call 1300 134 971


Electric switchboard

Electric switchboard

Melbourne Fire and Electrical are able to carry out your regular electrical works, for minor or major changes. This includes that key element of your electrical safety, the electric switchboard itself. And of course we keep fire safety in mind.

We are always on the lookout for ways to improve the fires safety of your electrical equipment.  Some of these enhanced safety features are mandated by regulations, others may be recommended for consideration in regs or the AS codes as a way to deal with typical health and safety risks arising in built facilities. Here is an example of an electric switchboard safety feature that can be a life saver in certain fire situations

Smoke seals in Electric switchboards

Fire investigations reveal that components in the electric switchboard can themselves be the instigator of a fire which escalates to involve the building at large. Many regulations and equipment safety features are designed to prevent fire initiation in electrical equipment, but if these fail another layer of safety can slow or stop further escalation.

Switchboard cabinet door smoke seals will provide an additional protective measure, and improve the outcome of a switchboard fire. They can add time, the time needed for building occupants to exit the building before being engulfed in smoke.

260 Lt Collins

Electric switchboard cabinet with door seal

These seals are meant to deal with a switchboard fire which is smouldering or has already ignited.Typically these circumstances will leead to emission of voluminous quantities of smoke, dangerously reducing visibility and complete with deadly combustion compounds. By lining the cabinet with fire resistant material and sealing all round the cabinet door to prevent smoke escaping, precious time can allow inhabitants to be alerted and to leave the building safely.
The seals should avoid the use of materials likely to be flammable or to add to the health risk posed by the burning switchboard components.

Call us

Give us a call on 1300 134 971 to ask about improved fire performance in your electric switchboard.


Hydrant testing

Routine service – Fire hydrant testing

Here we are doing a hydrant test at a facility in greater Melbourne – throwing some water around !

Ask Drew where

Image 1 Hydrant partway uphill

The preparation can take a bit of time but the test itself can be done fairly quickly.  This is our second test for the day at this facility. The hydrant we tested earlier was at the lower end of the property.  For this second hydrant we’re 5 m further uphill, so about 50 kPa drop in static pressure straight away

Static pressure here is 700 kPa – which is good. BUT is there enough water to provide the required flow rate? Target flow is 300 l/min (or 5 l/sec).

The test gets underway, and within about 40 seconds the flow stabilises. Result – just over 300 l/min and a residual pressure of 600 kPa. (a.k.a. dynamic pressure).

All is good.

Flow Testing Fire Hydrant Melbourne

Call us

Call us 1300 134 971 for your routine hydrant testing, and hydrant booster tests.


Fire Equipment Maintenance

Fire Equipment Maintenance

From time to time office tenancies in any CBD building will undergo change. Sometimes the property manager advises us in advance of the change being implemented, though often we find out about these changes when we are conducting our routine service visits. Below is good example of fire equipment maintenance in Melbourne and an example where a significant change has been proceeding over several weeks, and the manager has worked with us to keep the fire protection equipment as current a practical, all along the way.

Create a “new” level by exploiting an underused space.

For one of our city based clients – expansion is afoot. Demand for quality office and retail space is at least keeping pace with the growing Melbourne population, and property managers are getting creative. The old basement, previously an underdeveloped storage space, is ripe for conversion to a cool basement cafe. Consequently our Fire Equipment maintenance schedule needs to be updated.


fire hydrant hydrant maintenance melbourne

DWH - basement

Image 2 – NOTE: small extinguisher in a box, next to the installed equipment. This was brought on site by the carpentry contractor.

Sprinklers have been added and now all the other services are crowding in too.






Interesting to see that the carpenters carry their own fire extinguisher, but we leave theirs alone when we inspect and update the fixed equipment in the building.

Upstairs our routine service visits discover a cabinet has been placed near an extinguisher making it inaccessible. Or a tenant has brought some of their own fire extinguishers – which haven’t been serviced for a few years ! A friendly chat and we agree to get the unit replaced, or advise them that there is already one quite handy to their location.

Fire hydrant for fire maintenance melbourne

fire hydrant in melbourne CBD Building

We’re also making sure the path to the fire escape is clear (having removed a large pedestal ashtray this morning, Image 3)

Fire doors

On our fire door theme? This building, occupied over 4 (soon to be 5) levels has no fire rated internal walls and thus, no fire doors.



Are your tenant’s needs changing?

We can help – call us 1300 134 971