Fire Hydrant concessions for existing buildings – how is this different from BCA clause E1.3?

By Ian O’Neil, Fire & Risk Consultant

BCA Clause E1.3 sets out the requirement that a fire hydrant must be provided to serve a building if:

    1. Having a total floor area greater than 500m2; and
    2. Where a fire brigade station is-
      1. No more than 50km from the building as measured along roads; and
      2. Equipped with equipment capable of utilising a fire hydrant.

Underground street hydrants are considered fire hydrants and can provide sufficient coverage to satisfy the requirements. AS2419.1-2005 sets out the standard of cover required for a fire hydrant system and is as follows:

AS2419.1-2005 Clause

    1. Hydrant within 20m of hardstand for the fire truck
    2. All parts of the building must be within 60m (2 x hoses) and 10m hose stream; and
      *The nozzle of the hose must be at least 1m inside the most distant room served.
      Total from Hydrant = 90m

The hose must be able to reach all parts within the building to comply and allow firefighters to adequately undertake their duty. If it does not comply, then a booster system may need to be installed which can be an expensive and time-consuming installation. This cost is often placed upon the owner/s of the building.

However, Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) has provided a Fire safety guideline technical information document. The purpose of this document is to provide consent on concessions regarding the provision of fire hydrant coverage to existing buildings that are subject to a fire order. This concession allows to the following additional coverage:

FRNSW concession

    1. Hydrant within 30m of hardstand for the fire truck
    2. All parts of the building be within 90m (3 x hoses)
      *70m of hose maximum in the building
      Total from Hydrant = 120m

This additional 30m of coverage may save the owners a significant amount of money and still allow firefighters to carry out their role. This document does come with specified conditions and approvals to apply it to a building. FRNSW sets out these conditions within the documentation.

If your building is subject to a fire order, then you need to engage a consultancy firm such as Credwell to determine whether any concessions may be obtained.

To discover more about flexibility and options in building safety compliance please contact Credwell at 02 9281 8555 or