An evaluation of the primary South African standard and guideline for the provision of water for firefighting
In South Africa, as is mostly the norm globally, national legislation and guidelines specify that potable water distribution networks maintain the capacity to provide specified quantities of water for firefighting. This paper addresses the question: is the South African standard and guideline pertaining to fire-flow provision appropriate for firefighting and do these ensure the most efficient balance between providing sufficient fire protection and promoting sustainable water use? In answering this question, this study: (i) reviewed national and international design standards and guidelines; and (ii) captured and analysed 10 years of billable fire incident reports representing 3 859 fire events within the City of Johannesburg. Highlights from the study include: inconsistencies in categories when comparing the SANS 10090 and The Red Book fire tables and violations (in The Red Book) of stipulated Minimum Fire Flows; over the 10 year period, 75% of fire incidents within the City of Johannesburg were extinguished using less than 6.6 kL of water – less than the capacity (6.9 kL) of the City’s conventional pumping tanker during the period; 99.9% of fire incidents within the City were quenched using an average fire flow rate of less than 1 200 L/min, which is the minimum hydrant flow rate for the lowest fire risk category in SANS 10090; and peak fire occurrence did not correspond with typical peak residential water use. Recommendations are proffered in respect of the above.
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