Fire Sprinkler Water Conservation ProjectOverview
Victoria has thousands of fire sprinkler systems. They are a highly valuable part of the state's fire protection framework and their operational readiness needs to be maintained.
Most of this maintenance occurs through periodic testing of the key components of the systems, such as alarms, pumps and water supply. The operational readiness of fire sprinklers also needs to be retained as much as possible when the systems are affected by building renovations, such as changes in the fitouts of offices or shops.
Current industry practices for maintaining fire sprinkler systems consume water though, and often more water is being used than is necessary or preferable. An estimated 500 million litres of drinking water is presently being discharged to drains annually in Victoria as a result of the procedures and equipment used for maintaining fire sprinkler systems.
The extent to which this consumption can be reduced depends ultimately on the amount of effort and funding committed to pursuing water-saving measures, but case studies have shown that a high proportion of the consumption can be cut through feasible and affordable methods. This initiative seeks to save 450 million litres per year by undertaking the initiatives identified in the guide and case studies.
This project is part of a Victorian Government initiative examining water conservation in the maintenance and testing of fire sprinkler systems. The project, led by the Plumbing Industry Commission, is funded and supported by:
- City West Water
- South East Water
- Yarra Valley Water
- Department of Sustainability and Environment
- Building Commission.
The project is derived from initiatives by the fire industry and its stakeholders, including leading fire services maintenance firms, industry associations and the Victorian plumbers union, which represents sprinkler fitters. Leaders in the property and facility management industries have also supported this important water-saving initiative, as a matter of corporate social responsibility.
In addition to the funding organisations, the working group for the project include representatives from:
- Fire Protection Association Australia
- National Fire Industry Association
- Communication, Electrical and Plumbing Union
- Australian Institute of Building Surveyors.
The project includes a demonstration program, comprising of 15 case studies that demonstrate methods for reducing water consumption through periodic maintenance and alteration of fire sprinkler systems, and includes the benefits and associated costs of these methods.
The case study sites are spread across three water retailers regions in Melbourne and include properties ranging from high rise office buildings to shopping centres and major factories. Nearly all of the chosen sites have pump-boosted sprinkler systems with multiple control valves and do not employ the use of tanks or other methods for re-using or re-circulating the water used in maintaining and altering their sprinkler systems . These sites were chosen primarily because they offer the best opportunity for reducing the estimated 500 million litres of water that is consumed annually through fire sprinkler maintenance and system alteration.
Based on these case studies, a guide has subsequently been produced incorporating the findings from case studies, research, expertise of the consultants working on the project and feedback from working groups and other relevant parties.