Effective fire prevention involves the seamless intersection of multiple protection systems that meet compliance requirements within specific environmental conditions. By taking a holistic approach to solution design, system installation, asset management and fire compliance, DEM Fire can advise on comprehensive solutions for every type, size and classification of commercial property.
“There is a complex matrix of events that needs to occur,” explains Tom Marshall, DEM Fire Managing Director. “It requires all systems, such as sprinkler systems, alarm systems and emergency communication to operate seamlessly.”
“The best option is for a fire system to never be called into action,” he adds, “but if something happens, you want it to work. Fire prevention systems need to be operational and ready to go at any point in time. When it does, there is a 99% success rate of extinguishing a fire at the source.”
It’s why maintenance is a critical element of effective fire prevention.
Fire prevention requires an intricate network of prevention systems to interact seamlessly – from fire outbreak to suppression. It requires all systems to connect and to immediately alert occupants and local fire brigades.
As Tom explains, the system has been honed over recent decades. “There was a major bowling club fire in the early 1990s,” begins Tom, “and it emerged from this incident that different parties were maintaining systems independently. No-one was taking a holistic look at buildings and how systems interface together.”
Effective systems require multiple communication and controls to swing into action. “You need the fire alarm system to talk to the fire brigade,” Tom says, “but there are also other layers. You will need the fire system to trigger the air-conditioning system to re-pressurise stairwells for instance, so that smoke doesn’t ingress into them and so occupants have a clear exit. And atriums may need to go into smoke spill mode to extract smoke from the area.”
Effective fire protection requires every element of this network, including alerts and equipment, to be fully operational at all times. So, ongoing maintenance is crucial.
There are two elements to system and asset maintenance – inspection and testing. Inspection involves an examination of equipment and controls for signs of wear or damage, while maintenance includes practical updates like replacing gaskets or changing oil.
Testing requires a physical test of the sprinkler, alarm and other detection systems.
The frequency of asset management is determined by the Australian Standard AS1851; however, various other factors may influence the necessary inspection and maintenance regime. Generally, extinguishers and hose reels, for instance, require a six-monthly inspection. However, there may be situations where that changes dependent on insurance requirements or environmental issues.
Tom explains: “It often comes back to risk and environment. There are multiple factors to sprinkler systems for instance, and more frequent testing may be needed based on the risk, security, environment or insurance.”
The installation and maintenance of fire prevention systems is covered under Australian Standard 1851. The Standard has different regulations for elements including sprinkler systems, passive fire systems, detection systems and hydrants.
Australian Standards establish the minimum requirements for inspection and testing, which vary from monthly, to six-monthly, to annually or longer.
“Fire Sprinkler Controls require an overhaul every five years,” says Tom. “With sprinkler systems and detection systems, we normally check control equipment monthly.”
Environmental factors that may trigger more frequent testing include the proximity of fire systems to chemicals, dirt and dust. “Where you have potential security problems or the possibility that the public can interfere with equipment, it will also warrant more regular inspection,” adds Tom.
Effective and well-maintained fire prevention systems will successfully reduce fire risk.
Large outbreaks have tended to occur in properties without any fire systems, or with an ineffective system that has not been maintained or updated with a change in building use or classification.
DEM Fire excels at holistic fire prevention solutions, thanks to longstanding experience and an outstanding team of solution designers, equipment testers and installers, mechanics, electricians and other fire protection specialists. And we’re committed to ongoing training to ensure we are on top of industry changes and full accreditation and compliance requirements.