19 - Fire Brigade & Water Supply

Fire brigades/departments are community, government and industry operated organizations and can be manned permanently by professional personnel or by volunteer/part time teams.

Fire water is a water supply (volume, flow and pressure of the fire water) provided to a site for firefighting purposes. Water can be drawn from either a private reservoir or tank with dedicated fire pumps, or it may be provided from the public mains.

What do we look for?

Exposures

  • High fire exposures can be the result of the use of combustible/flammable materials in processing, or more commonly through the storage of significant volumes (or storage heights) of combustible/flammable stock
  • Combustible construction materials can significantly add to the fire hazards at a site (e.g. timber or foam plastic sandwich panels)
  • External fire exposures to the premises can be significant (e.g. yard storage, neighboring buildings or exposure to forest fires).

Controls

  • The water supply should be able to meet the expected demand from the site using fire hose reels, hydrants and sprinklers (if installed), and the needs of the fire brigade responding to a fire exposure
  • Regular testing and maintenance of fire hydrants, and associated pumps and water supply, to ensure a high level of reliability
  • Well trained fire brigade having a sufficient number of fire appliances to effectively deal with a fire at the premises; more than one professional fire brigade in the area with good response time.

Risk improvement ideas

  • Establish an ongoing relationship with the fire brigade. Ensure that fire fighters are familiar with the site and involve the fire brigade in any building changes.
  • Invite the fire brigade to witness and participate in regular evacuation drills.
  • Provide regular testing and maintenance of water supplies to maintain suitable service. These should be conducted by professional fire contractors familiar with local requirements.
  • Complete full fire water supply flow/pressure tests at least every 12 months. Verify the water supply  meets design demands per applicable national Standards.
  • Carry out regular maintenance and testing of fire pumps to ensure they will activate reliably in the event of a fire and provide adequate supply.
  • Develop self-inspection schedule to check that any isolating valves in a fire main are padlocked open or electronically supervised to ensure availability of fire water supply.
  • Review water supply requirements when there is a change in site fire load (e.g. a change in construction or site conditions such as storage arrangements or production).
  • Locate fire hydrant  in positions that allow access by the fire brigade during emergencies and are in proximity to all areas requiring coverage.
  • Post the correct site address at the designated entry point for emergency services.
  • Provide updated alphabetical listing of all dangerous goods on material safety data sheets (MSDS) at gatehouses or other designated entry points for emergency services.

NFPA Standards

  • NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection
  • NFPA 22, Standard for Water Tanks for Private Fire Protection
  • NFPA 24, Standard for the Installation of Private Fire Service Mains
  • NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing & Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems
  • NFPA 291, Recommended Practice for Fire Flow Testing and Marking of Hydrants
  • NFPA 1620, Recommended Practice for Pre-Incident Planning.