Fire Main

A sprinkler system or hydrant system cannot be installed in a building unless it is fed by a fire main (a water pipe), and the fire main nominated as an essential safety measure under a building approval. Victoria’s MFB provides the following fire main definition in guideline GL-34:

  • “Fire Main” means all pipework commencing at the fire isolation valve downstream from the street water main connection.
  • “Combined Sprinkler and hydrant system” means an integrated system of sprinkler and fire hydrant reticulation where the sprinkler system is fed from a fire main designed to supply the concurrent water requirements of both the sprinkler and the hydrant systems.

Building Code of Australia

BCA Part E1 Fire Fighting Equipment sets out the criteria building surveyors/ building certifiers must apply for the installation of fire hydrants in clause E1.3 and Sprinklers in E1.5, each requiring a fire main to operate. The Building Code of Australia calls up the following standards which involve a fire main:

  • AS 2419.1-2005 Fire hydrant installations – System design, installation and commissioning
  • AS 2118.1-2006 Automatic fire sprinkler systems – General systems

AS2419.1 in the preamble states:

An adequate source of water (from a fire main) is a fundamental consideration in the design of a fire hydrant installation and may comprise water from more than one source. A source based on a 4hr duration at the flow rates given in this Standard is regarded as the minimum safe quantity to enable fire brigades to commence an initial attack to limit fire spread, protect neighbouring properties and extinguish the fire.

The following illustration depicts the requirements for the protection of internal fire mains in a building above ground level.

The following is a part extract of clause I1.1 for an Essential Safety Measure  (as appeared in BCA 2013) known as fire main under fire hydrant system and sprinkler system:

Table I1.5 SAFETY MEASURES – FIRE FIGHTING SERVICES AND EQUIPMENT

Safety Measures BCA Provision for Determining Standard of Performance
Fire hydrant system (including on-site pump set and fire-service booster connection) E1.3
Sprinkler System E1.5, G3.8

Essential Safety Measures Audit – Fire Main

The installation of a fire hydrant and a sprinkler system will automatically cause the building surveyor/ certifier to nominate in the essential safety measures determination/ schedule a fire main (hydrant system/ sprinkler system) as an essential safety measure. The essential safety measures auditor for fire safety compliance should check the fire service contractor’s fire main logbook in accordance with AS 1851-2005 Maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment. Any failures in testing, inspection or maintenance works relevant to a fire main should be recorded in the building’s essential safety measure logbook under the building regulations to allow signing of the Annual Statement, Annual Certificate of Compliance, Annual Fire Safety Statement, Annual Maintenance Statement and Annual Occupiers Statement.