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Installation of fire sprinklers in houses promoted

Guidance for domestic fire sprinkler designers, homeowners and building consent authorities (BCAs) when working through the building consent process for the installation of domestic fire sprinklers.

Homeowners who wish to voluntarily install fire sprinklers in their houses can refer to a Standard researched and developed by the New Zealand Fire Service, in conjunction with BRANZ, NZS 4517 Fire Sprinkler Systems for Houses.

Other means of compliance could also be used such as NFPA 13D Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes.

Although a requirement to install smoke alarms in houses was introduced in 2003, it is not a Building Code requirement to install domestic fire sprinklers. However, the Fire Service is promoting their installation to reduce injuries and loss of life caused by fire.

Homeowners who choose to have sprinklers installed need to know what the building consent requirements are. The following table sets out the responsibilities for designers, installers, homeowners and BCAs.

   

 Responsibilities

 

 
  Designer and installer Homeowner BCA
General Design, installation and commissioning to NZS 4517 The system is designed and installed correctly. Obtain a building consent for the building work required A building consent application should contain the associated building work from this table
Pipe installation through the external envelope Detail penetrations for the building consent Include in building consent application Check as part of the building consent processing
Backflow protection Detail the type and location of the backflow preventer, if one is required Include in building consent application Check as part of the building consent processing
Structure Detail the sprinkler pipe penetrations through structural frames, to NZS 3604 or alternative design, if they exist Include in building consent application Check as part of the building consent processing
Durability Include consideration of the building work’s durability in the building consent application Include in building consent application Check as part of the building consent processing, including the test frequency of any backflow preventer detailed in the plan and specifications
Water flow characteristics Required for an effective fire sprinkler system to NZS 4517  Engage designer Not required as part of the building consent
Sprinkler head locations Required for an effective fire sprinkler system  Engage designer Not required as part of the building consent
Installation and commissioning Installation and commissioning to NZS 4517 Engage installer. Installer to issue to the owner details of the installation, commissioning and testing Test certificate for any backflow preventer required before issuing CCC
Testing and maintenance To be detailed for the owner Owner or contractor to undertake regular testing Engage contractor to test the backflow preventer, if one is installed Not required as part of the building consent, except for the ongoing testing of the backflow preventer (see Durability above)

BCAs need to know all of the following information before issuing the building consent.

  • The building work associated with the fire sprinkler system complies with B1 Structure, B2 Durability and G12 Water Supplies.
  • The appropriate level of backflow prevention, if required, has been identifiedandspecifiedforinstallation, including the testing frequency.
  • The backflow preventer, if required, will be installed and tested. This will probably be done by the installer, who will provide a backflow preventer test certificate.
  • The name of the craftsman plumber doing the installation of potable water pipework or the connection to the potable water supply.

Homeowners will also find the following information about fire sprinkler systems helpful, although it is not required as part of the building consent process.

  • There is adequate pressure and flow; and this should be done by inspection, test or producer statement.
  • The design is to NZS 4517 and will probably be demonstrated by a design producer statement (Appendix G of NZS 4517).
  • The installation has been installed and commissioned in accordance with NZS 4517 Appendix C Test water supply, Appendix F Verification flow test and Commissioning in accordance with Section 8, and this will probably be demonstrated by a design and construction producer statement (Appendix G of NZS 4517).
  • The owner is aware of the testing and maintenance requirements (Appendix I of NZS 4517), including the testing of any backflow preventer.