Can I install downlights, ducted air conditioning, ceiling exhaust fans or manholes in my unit ceiling?
Well yes… but you need to be very careful if your ceiling designed to have a “resistance to the incipient spread of fire to the roof space for a period of not less than 60 minutes”.
Fire rated ceilings are an fire safety measure, designed to slow the spread of fire from one part of the building to another.
In an emergency situation emergency lights should run on their backup battery for at least 90-minutes. Australian Standards require that exit & emergency lights be tested every 6 months. Exit and emergency lights have a shorter lifespan when compared to non-emergency lights.
Fire Sprinklers are a highly effective fire suppression system, but in order to operate effectively they require clearance and coverage of all areas. In this post, we’ll explore the some of the basic issues that arise with sprinkler systems in residential strata buildings.
This video shows just how effective sprinklers are in protecting people and property. It is well worth a watch and reinforces the importance of complying with the relevant standards.
Clearance below sprinkler heads
AS2118.1 1999 Clause 5.4.8 – Clear space below sprinklers
Except as provided in Clauses 126.96.36.199(b) and 188.8.131.52(d) a clear space not less than 500 mm shall always be maintained below the level of the sprinkler deflectors throughout the room. For high piled combustible stock, clearance not less than 1m shall be provided. Roof trusses shall at all times be accessible to water discharged from the sprinklers.
Fire sprinkler systems are designed to provide full protection by overlapping the sprinkler heads’ radii of coverage. This overlapping coverage can be rendered ineffective however if materials are stacked so high that they block the sprinklers effective range. For this reason the Australian Standard requires a clear space of at least 500mm below the deflector.
Even temporary obstructions such as storage boxes and tarps can interfere the discharge pattern of the sprinkler heads and compromise the effectiveness of the system.
Hanging items from sprinkler heads
AS2118.9 Clause 3.7 – Prohibited use of piping
3.7.1 Electrical earth Sprinkler pipes shall not be used as a means of earthing an electrical installation or as a link in an earthing circuit.
3.7.2 Hoisting Sprinkler pipes shall not be used for hoisting or supporting other services nor shall articles be hung from them.
Items should not be hung off sprinkler pipe works in particular the heads.
If the sprinkler’s frangible element is broken, water will start flowing and will continue to flow until the fire brigade manually shut off the supply causing flooding. Furthermore this breaches the clear space requirement and can interfere with the spray patterns of the sprinklers
Painting the frangible element of fire sprinklers
AS1851 – 2012 Table 184.108.40.206, Item No. 3.18
CHECK sprinklers for any condition, including physical damage, contamination, and paint on operating elements or cover plates, likely to adversely affect their function.
NOTE: Sprinkler frames may be painted as part of the manufacturing process; however, the heat response elements should not be painted as this will delay or prevent operation and paint accumulated at the seat of the sprinkler may affect operation. Minor spatter on the fusible elements may be acceptable but operation should be checked if doubt exists.
Sprinkler frangible elements (bulb containing colour liquid) should not be painted as this can delay operation of the sprinkler head
Sprinklers & storage boxes in carparks
Storage boxes are increasing being used in sprinkler protected car parks. The current standard does not deal with these directly, however, the two clauses below help us understand the requirements in relation to sprinklers for the two main types of storage boxes we see in car parks:
AS2118.1 1999 Clause 5.7.3 – Ducts and bulkheads
Sprinklers shall be installed under rectangular ducts exceeding 800 mm in width and under circular ducts exceeding 1 m in diameter unless there is at least 150 mm clearance from adjacent walls in which case the width without protection may be 1 m and 1.2 m respectively.
Where a duct is erected with the top of the duct less than 500 mm below the ceiling or roof, it shall be regarded as a beam and the requirements of Clauses 5.4.4 and 5.4.5 shall apply (see also Clause 5.4.8).
AS2118.1 1999 Clause 5.6.1 – Concealed spaces
(e) Any concealed space having readily accessible permanent access, or capable of being used either intermittently or permanently as a storage area shall be protected by sprinklers.
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I don’t think we’ve had contractors come through before who were so clean and tidy, helpful and responsive with ideas about how to better maintain the heritage and be compliant and generally respectful of the property.
He was so thoughtful, he stopped the really noisy part of the repair so I could answer calls. I went out at lunch, and he was on his hands and knees washing the floor in the entry because he’d brought in some debris from the street.
People are very quick to complain but slow to compliment so I just wanted to say thank you for your prompt service.