What Is A Fire Hydrant?
A fire hydrant is an active fire protection system that acts as a connection point for firefighters to connect their fire hose to, in order to combat a fire.
Water from the hydrant is then directed through the layflat fire hose to a nozzle which is then directed to the seat of a fire.Fire hydrants are not first response appliances to be used by building occupants but are specifically for use by trained officers of the local fire brigade.
Fire hydrants may either be connected directly to the mains water supply or in larger sites will be connected to a pumpset giving greater water supply and pressure to the fire brigade. These devices boost the pressure when that of the mains is not enough.
During a fire the fire brigade may provide additional water and boost the water pressure to satisfy the demands of the fire hydrant system. This is carried out by connecting a fire appliance (truck) between an alternate water supply and the booster connection.
Why Do Buildings Have Fire Hydrants?
The Building Code of Australia volume 1 parts EP1.3 and E1.3, H3.9 and G4.8 detail the mandatory requirement for fire hydrants to be provided in various classes of buildings.
Where Should Fire Hydrants Be Located?
The location of fire hydrants must consider accessibility, obstructions and proximity to the building being protected.
The position of hydrants is related to the length of a fire hose, which is 30 metres. All distances are calculated as the most direct, laid-flat-on-ground route that a fire hose could be laid to and inside the building. This includes a path up or down stairs or ramps.
Maintenance, Inspection & Testing
Western Australia’s building legislation requires owners of Class 2 to Class 9 buildings (which includes residential apartments) to ensure the building’s firefighting services and equipment are maintained. This is to ensure that safety systems remain capable of performing to a standard not less than they were originally required and commissioned to achieve.
The Building Commission considers the adoption of Australian Standard AS1851-2012 Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment as good practice and a means for owners to ensure fire safety measures are serviced at regular frequencies to demonstrate suitable operation, and rectified or repaired if necessary to meet their regulatory obligation on maintenance.
AS1851 requires fire hydrants to be inspected every six months. There is an additional inspection and test checklist required to be undertaken yearly and five yearly. Systems with pumpsets must be inspected monthly.
How Do I Operate A Fire Hydrant?
Generally, fire hydrant systems terminate with a hydrant valve. For the system to be utilised a hose must be connected to the hydrant valve. Some buildings have a dedicated hydrant cabinet with a valve and connected hose. The hose is run out to the fire and then the valve is opened. The water pressure from a hydrant system is significantly higher than that of a hose reel system. Fire hydrant systems should only be operated by qualified persons that have undertaken specialist training.