What Is A Fire Sprinkler System?
Fire sprinkler systems in buildings are used to provide a reliable method of automatically detecting and extinguishing fires.
The system often serves as the first line of defence against fires, giving people more time to safely escape any imminent danger and follow the approved evacuation plan to safety.
Some buildings not only have pumps to boost the pressure of the water supply but also have large water storage tanks to supply the sprinkler system.
Why Do Buildings Have Fire Sprinklers?
The Building Code of Australia volume 1 parts E1.5 and G3.8 detail the mandatory requirement for fire sprinklers to be provided in various classes of buildings.
Where Should Fire Sprinklers Be Located?
Australian Standard AS2118.1 specifies general requirements for the design, installation and commissioning of automatic fire sprinkler systems in buildings.
There are no simple rules to follow because each building is different, both in its layout, and fire risks. The spacing of sprinkler heads is largely dependent on the hazard type or hazard classification within the building.
How Do Fire Sprinklers Operate?
Most sprinklers have a small glass bulb with a liquid in it. This bulb blocks the flow of water. When a fire occurs the liquid in the bulb becomes hot, expands and then shatters the glass. This causes water to spray automatically from the sprinkler continuously until the system is shut off. Smoke will not activate a fire sprinkler. When one sprinkler activates water does not flow through all sprinklers in the system. Water will only flow through a sprinkler if its glass bulb has been shattered.
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 pumps to be inspected every month. There are additional inspection and test checklists required to be undertaken six monthly, yearly, five yearly, ten yearly, twenty five yearly and thirty yearly.
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