Fire fighting systems and equipment vary depending on the age, size, use and type of building construction. A building may contain some or all of the following features:
fire hose reels
fire hydrant systems
automatic sprinkler systems.
Fire extinguishers are provided for a 'first attack' fire fighting measure, generally undertaken by the occupants of the building before the fire service arrives. It is important that occupants are familiar with which extinguisher type to use on which fire.
Most fires start as a small fire and may be extinguished if the correct type and amount of extinguishing agent is applied whilst the fire is small and controllable.
It is the policy of the Community Safety and Resilience Department that fire extinguishers be logically grouped at exits from the building, so that occupants first go to the exit and then return to fight the fire, knowing that a safe exit lies behind them, away from the fire. In some instances this will be at odds with the prescriptive requirements of Australian Standard AS2444 Portable fire extinguishers and fire blankets - Selection and location, which simply specifies a distance of travel to a fire extinguisher rather than their location in relation to escape paths. Blind compliance with the standard has the potential to place the fire between the occupant and the safe escape path.
Fire hose reels
Fire hose reels are provided for use by occupants as a 'first attack' fire fighting measure but may, in some instances, also be used by firefighters.
When stowing a fire hose reel, it is important to first attach the nozzle end to the hose reel valve, then close the hose reel valve, then open the nozzle to relieve any pressure in the wound hose, then close the nozzle. This achieves two principle objectives:
A depressurised hose and hose reel seal will last longer than if permanently pressurised.
When the hose reel is next used, the operator will be forced to turn on the isolating valve, thus charging the hose reel with pressurised water supply, before being able to drag the hose to the fire. A potential danger exists if the operator reaches the fire and finds no water is available because the hose reel valve is still closed.
Fire hydrant systems
Fire hydrant systems are installed in buildings to help firefighters quickly attack the fire. Essentially, a hydrant system is a water reticulation system used to transport water in order to limit the amount of hose that firefighters have to lay, thus speeding up the fire fighting process.
Fire hydrants are for the sole use of trained firefighters (which includes factory fire fighting teams). Because of the high pressures available serious injury can occur if untrained persons attempt to operate the equipment connected to such installations.
Fire hydrant systems sometimes include ancillary parts essential to their effective operation such as pumps, tanks and fire service booster connections. These systems must be maintained and regularly tested if they are to be effective when needed.