Water, Sewage & Effluent May June 2019 - Page 41

Fighting fire – with water All role players and stakeholders need to come together and find acceptable and cost- effective solutions to satisfy everybody in the supply of water and the use of water for fire protection. The correct system of municipal water infrastructure for firefighting is an extremely important tool for the fire brigade. www.waterafrica.co.za National Building Regulations (NBR) To fully appreciate where the ambiguity stems from regarding NBR, we need to take a step back for an overview. The boundary of the NBR is the four boundaries of the property. The NBR is only applicable within the boundaries innovations About the author Vollie Brink (Pr Eng, MSAICE, MPMISA, MFEASA) is one of the industry’s longest-serving wet service engineers. He continues to serve on SABS committees and has been involved in the Green Building Council’s Green Star rating system. Brink continues to consult for various organisations while enjoying a well-deserved retirement. Water Sewage & Effluent May/June 2019 renovation must now provide a large tank and pumps for the fire brigade, while the building next door doesn’t – and the cherry on top is that the developer has to pay tax for services. These requirements are, however, not consistent, and change from town to town and fire brigade to fire brigade. To add to the confusion some fire officers refer to standards which, when taken out of context, are actually not applicable for certain situations since the design standards and regulations differ for the infrastructure and for the property respectively. S outh Africa’s aging municipal water infrastructure has been neglected over many years and the water supply has become a serious problem in many, or rather most, of our rural towns and cities. In many instances there has been no water, or not enough water to fight a fire. There have even been cases where it took days to kill a fire due to insufficient pressure and some firefighters have lost their lives. The problem is that town or city infrastructure cannot cope with the provision of water for firefighting, and accountability takes the form of passing the buck. The solution is that their fire departments insist that the owners of properties must provide large volumes of water on their properties, specifically reserved for firefighting. This is very costly and a financial burden on developers of new properties and even where existing buildings are upgraded. It is also unfair. It means that an existing property undergoing By Vollie Brink 39