AUST – HENDRY building surveyors advise that the Building Code of Australia in Clause E1.4 specifies when fire hose reels need to be installed in various types of buildings based on floor area, classifications and the number of storeys. The intent of Clause E1.4 is to ensure that fire hose reels are readily accessible by fire fighters/ occupiers and that every part of a floor will be reached.

Building Code of Australia – Clause E1.4

The performance clause EP1.1 for fire hose reels states:

PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS

EP1.1
A fire hose reel system must be installed to the degree necessary to allow occupants to safely undertake initial attack on a fire appropriate to –

(a) the size of the fire compartment; and
(b) the function or use of the building; and
(c) any other fire safety systems installed in the building; and
(d) the fire hazard

Clause E1.4 (a) (b) and (c) prescribes in which buildings a fire hose reel system is required with the type of system being suitable for the purpose. This clause requires the installation of the fire hose reel to comply with AS2441-2005 ‘Installation of fire hose reels’.

The criterion of 500m² floor area for any fire compartment is based on a perceived community acceptance of loss of contents associated with this area. In fire compartments beyond this size, fire hose reels are required to allow occupants the opportunity to attempt an initial attack.

The use of fire hose reels essentially relates to protection of contents within a fire compartment, whilst the fire service action using hydrants is also aimed at preventing spread between fire compartments. This is why the floor area criteria for fire hose reels is based on a fire compartment but for fire hydrants it is based on total floor area of the building.

E 1.4 related to the system design and its capability to allow occupants to effectively attack a fire. The lead-in phase emphasises the importance of location of fire hose reels to ensure occupants are not in danger of not being able to escape in case they are unable to control the fire. Fire hose reels are not permitted to be installed within fire-isolated stairs and are to be maintained under AS 1851.

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