Automatic fire sprinkler systems have been a key building safety regulation in Australia for over 25 years. However, less than half of the commercial buildings, schools and offices have fire sprinklers fitted. Despite the government’s efforts, there is still a long way to go before every building has an automatic fire sprinkler system installed.
Every 4 minutes someone in Australia is admitted to hospital due to a fire injury. These injuries can often be avoided if the right safety measures are taken by property owners, builders and tenants.
Fire sprinkler systems are extremely important as they prevent fires from spreading rapidly through a building. In fact, they cut the spread of fire from an average of 2.1 rooms without a sprinkler system to just 1 room with one fitted! The best thing about them is that you never have to think about them until it’s too late – they spray water continuously as soon as a heat source is detected. Fires can be pretty scary because of how fast they spread and how devastating their effects can be, but if you have an automatic fire sprinkler system fitted then you should feel much safer knowing that you’ll be protected
The history on why they became mandatory
The move to require sprinklers in all new buildings taller than three storeys comes after the Grenfell Tower fire in London, which killed at least 80 people. The new standards will not require that older buildings be retrofitted with sprinklers, however there is a push from some quarters to do so.
Since 1 July 2018, all new residential buildings over three storeys are required to have automatic sprinklers installed.
The measure is part of a raft of changes to the National Construction Code released by the ABCB and endorsed by the states and territories. The changes will also impact apartment buildings built before 1994 which undergo major renovations or additions.
The inclusion of sprinklers in medium-rise residential buildings came into force on 1 July 2019. The NCC is the national standard for residential building construction and incorporates the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the National Construction Code (NCC). The NSW government introduced a sprinkler requirement amendment last week to the BCA and NCC, which requires all new medium-rise residential buildings — six storeys or less — to include sprinklers, irrespective of the number of dwellings. This follows an earlier NSW government decision to introduce a sprinkler requirement amendment to require all new high-rise residential buildings (more than six storeys) to include sprinklers, irrespective of number of dwellings. That change came into force on 1 July 2021.
The low-down on automatic fire sprinklers
An automatic fire sprinkler is a fire protection system designed to detect a fire and release a flow of water on or under an automatic basis. Automatic fire sprinklers are used in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings as a passive fire protection measure.
The first automatic sprinkler systems were patented in England in 1723 by Daniel Tyer and James Braidwood. These early designs found little or no favor among British builders who preferred the application of water by bucket brigade or other manual methods that did not require mechanical devices.
New York City is credited with installing the first municipal, an experimental installation of eight Braidwood pneumatic sprinklers on top of a ten-story building on Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan.
The installation was not successful because of the limited water supply from the city’s only fire hydrant system at Tontine Coffee House, located at Wall Street and Broadway, a considerable distance away from the fire.
The first public installation was made in 1873 at Wormley’s Hotel near London Bridge, where it was successful.
Curious about what automatic fire sprinklers are, and how they work?
Fire safety is a vital part of any building, and automatic fire sprinklers are an important component of that. Whether it’s a residential or commercial building, there’s always a risk of a fire occurring.
Automatic fire sprinkler systems are sprinklers that are triggered by the presence of a fire.
These sprinklers are added to an existing building’s structure in order to provide an additional layer of protection from fire.
Automatic fire sprinkler systems are designed to work independently of the alarm system, but alarm systems can be used with them as well.
Automatic fire sprinkler systems are available for commercial buildings, residential buildings, and industrial buildings.
Residential buildings are typically equipped with automatic fire sprinkler systems that cover the entire house. The systems may be installed on each floor, or one main system can be installed throughout the home.
Commercial buildings and industrial buildings may also receive automatic fire sprinklers, depending on the structure’s size and what is being stored inside it.
Also read “automatic fire sprinklers and you”
Automatic Fire Sprinkler System Components
Automatic fire sprinklers consist of several different components that work together to prevent fires from spreading through a building or home. These components include:
Sprinkler heads – There are two types of automatic sprinkler heads: heat activated and smoke activated. Heat activated sprinklers respond to increases in room temperature caused by a fire by activating automatically, while smoke activated sprinklers detect visible smoke within a room before activating.
There are several different types of automatic fire sprinkler systems which include wet pipe systems, dry pipe systems, pre-action systems, deluge systems, and suppression systems
Also checkout “building deluge systems”
So next time you step into a new building or even think about your current one, try to imagine what would happen if there was a fire on the top floor. Perhaps you’re in a crowded public place like a restaurant, waiting for an elevator to take you home after dinner with friends. If the sprinkler system didn’t exist, everything around you would likely be engulfed in flames within minutes.
Yours in Fire Safety