Why would I need sprinklers?
Sprinklers are often an alternate solution in a premises. The Building Code of Australia has exhaust extration systems as its first choice. Since having huge ducted systems running through a premises and out of the building is often not feasible sprinklers are often the best choice.
Sprinklers are generally installed in places that have a high risk of having a fire such as shopping centers, carparks, nightclub, etc. Sprinklers are also found in places where people in them are at a higher risk due to possible limitations like in hospitals, age care facilities etc.
More information is found below:
Approved operators of ‘residential care facilities’ subject to the Commonwealth Aged Care Act 1997 are obligated to install a fire sprinkler system if a fully functional fire sprinkler system is not already installed in their facilities as at 1 January 2013, or a fire sprinkler system has not been required to be installed under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) or any other Act or law (including an order or condition of development consent), where the requirement arose before 1 January 2013.
According to the Fire Sprinkler Standard, a fire sprinkler system must be installed in any building that forms part of such a facility, if the building contains a ‘resident area’ (which is defined in the Fire Sprinkler Standard). This includes Class 3 and 9a buildings. Retrofit action may involve installation of a new fire sprinkler system or the extension of an existing system if the building is only partially sprinkler protected.
New buildings and new parts of buildings
The BCA sets standards for the design and construction of new buildings and building work. Currently, in so far as the BCA applies to residential accommodation for the aged, the BCA ‘deemed-to-satisfy provisions’ only require fire sprinkler systems in Class 9c buildings and buildings taller than 25m in effective height.
A fire sprinkler system required by the BCA must comply with the BCA. A fire sprinkler system otherwise required must comply with the Fire Sprinkler Standard.
Retrofitting a sprinkler systems
The retrofitting of a fire sprinkler system in an existing building is likely to involve not only the installation of the fire sprinkler system itself, but also other related building work.
The fire sprinkler system will comprise various components such as pipework, valves, boosters, pumpsets, water tanks, local alarms, monitoring and signaling devices.
The related building work may include the construction of fire and smoke barriers to separate sprinkler protected and non-sprinkler protected parts, enclosures for fire pumpsets, supporting structure to water supply tanks, bulkheads to conceal pipework, remedial works to penetrations to existing fire or smoke barriers.
The fire sprinkler system installation must comply with the Fire Sprinkler Standard (which references the BCA in part for various system aspects). Although the standard includes some related building work provisions (eg. for fire and smoke barriers), it does not contain all requirements for related building work.
Related building work will need to comply with the EP&A Regulation and as relevant, the BCA.
The Fire Sprinkler Standard, like the BCA, is performance-based, so ‘alternative solutions’ to its deemed-to-satisfy provisions can be proposed. However, the types of ‘alternative solutions’ that can be proposed are limited. The Performance Requirement in the Fire Sprinkler Standard is more prescriptive than those under the BCA. The standard also requires a certificate or a report from an accredited fire engineer for all alternative solutions at application and completion stages.
Main Stop Valves for Residential Sprinklers Systems in Class 9c Buildings
Where “Booster Connections” are installed for a Residential Sprinkler System protecting an Aged Care Building (class 9c), QFRS requires the Main Stop Valve to be fitted with a monitoring device which is permanently connected with a direct data link or other approved monitoring system to a fire station or fire station dispatch centre.