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.