Fire Protection Systems
Get the right advice on which systems are right for you to prevent and suppress a fire on your site.
Fire sprinkler systems
Fire Sprinklers are the most effective form of fire protection in a building. In new construction these also offer the added benefit of reducing the requirement for fire separation and fire rated construction, with a saving in this area making the installation of a Fire Sprinkler system almost cost-neutral. New changes to the New Zealand Building Code make sprinklers compulsory in high storage warehousing, cool stores and high risk environments such as spray-painting operations. Underwriters are more focused on risky buildings with polystyrene-based insulation systems, and many will require fire sprinklers as a condition of insurance.
Wet pipe systems are traditional but there are also options for dry pipe systems in low temperature areas, pre-action systems to prevent accidental operation and all systems are installed to NZ Standards or International Insurer requirements (such as FM Global) and certified by independent accreditation bodies on completion.
Our highly qualified team offer in-house designers using the latest 3D CAD software and hydraulic modelling, fabrication by NZS4711-qualified workshop personnel and NZQA qualified supervisors and fitting crews. Our team can offer you a complete design and build package to suit the installation in a new building, or the options to retro-fit into an existing site.
Discuss the best sprinkler system for you with our team now.
Gas flood and special hazard protection
In some environments suppressing a fire with water can cause more damage than the fire might have. Operations such as Telecommunications centres, server farms, MRI systems and hi-tech equipment rooms often want to protect their equipment but without using traditional sprinklers. In this case a Gaseous Agent can be used to flood the room with a fire suppressant, avoiding any damage to the precious equipment.
Coupled with this, gas suppression systems are linked to precise detection equipment to detect a fire in the earliest phase and allow time for intervention. Should the fire develop, our gas flood systems will provide very safe hands for your critical systems equipment.
With our international connections we are able to access almost every clean agent system on the market and we have in-house experts who can advise and broker the best system for your equipment, at the best possible value to you.
Talk to us about our gas flood and special hazard protection systems.
Fire fighting equipment
Fire Extinguishers are not required under the New Zealand Building Code, but can be required to support a Fire Sprinkler System for particular hazardous goods requirements, or even as a requirement for insurance cover.
What is certain is that Fire Extinguishers are a very good way to stop a small fire from becoming life-threatening and devastating to your business. If you think you can just evacuate and wait for the Fire Service, think again. In the five minutes it might take the Fire & Emergency New Zealand to arrive, an unchecked fire is likely to take over the entire building.
If you are going to consider Fire Extinguishers, there are many options and one of our consultants will be able to give you the best option. We even have leasing options to make life completely simple for you.
Talk to our team about the right solution for you.
Fire extinguisher types
- ABE Dry Powder
Excellent extinguisher for most types of fires and a very good extinguisher for novice users.
Dry Powder is ABE Rated and the extinguishers themselves are cheap to purchase and lightweight to operate, as well as achieving very good Fire Kill ratings compared to most other extinguishers because of a very quick knockdown effect.
The only downside to Dry Powder is that it is very messy and the powder (typically Ammonium Phosphate) is mildly corrosive, affecting printed circuitry such as electronic equipment particularly. ABE Dry Powder must never be used in the vicinity of aircraft, as it would be necessary to pull apart the affected area rivet by rivet, piece by piece in order to clean it and prevent corrosion.
A very effective extinguishant for solely Class A (timber/paper/textile) fires with excellent cooling effect. Water requires little clean-up, it is cheap to refill and is favoured by areas which are likely to have malicious discharge of extinguishers regularly for both reasons.
Water however has very negative effect on all other fires and suffers from being bulky and awkward to handle as an extinguisher. It is dangerous to use on both flammable liquid fires (causing nasty eruptions), cooking media such as deep fryers (causing dangerous explosions) and energised electrical equipment (able to conduct electricity back to the operator) and must never be used in these situations.
- Foam (AFFF)
Foam is a very good smothering agent and works well to control open flammable liquid fires if you have time to work the blanketing effect required, but does not have a fast knock-down like Dry Powder.
Foam is also very effective against Class A (timber/paper/textile) fires and achieves a better effect than water because of a higher surface tension. Although some AFFF extinguishers achieved a laboratory test of electrical non-conductivity of the spray, Foam Extinguishers must never be used on Energised Electrical equipment as this will pool on the floor and remain conductive.
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Carbon Dioxide is a specialised extinguishant for use on electrical equipment.
Being a gas, it seeks its way into equipment and will get at a fire in cabinets of equipment and switchboards. Being a gas, there is no clean up after use and is the only choice for server rooms, switchboards and computer suites.
CO2 achieves a very light flammable liquids rating, but will not extinguish a Class A fire as it only displaces the oxygen while it is being operated. Once the flow stops burning timber, paper or textiles will re-ignite.
- Wet Chemical
Wet Chemical is a special agent for Class F (cooking media) fires and was developed as an agent because there is no other effective way of extinguishing a deep fat fryer involved in fire. Because the heat is so deep seated in a cooking fire, other extinguishants do not achieve both smother and cool effectively to prevent sudden reignition of the fire.
Wet Chemical is often insisted on in kitchens by insurance assessors and are an essential item in this instance. Wet Chemical also achieved a Class A (Timber paper textile) and Class B (flammable liquids) rating, but are really too small to be effective. Most wet chemicals are required to be refilled 3-yearly.
- Fire Blanket
Fire blankets are excellent as an assistance for fires involving clothing. Fire Blankets are also excellent for use in working with small cookers and with fires in pots, however should be used with caution and as with all extinguishers should only be used by trained operators.
Sometimes mistakenly used to attempt to seal fire-rated penetrations in buildings, blankets only have their specific use in kitchens.
- Halon 1211 (BCF)
An extremely effective extinguishant on Class A, B and E Fires, BCF is possibly the most effective extinguishant constructed as is combines with the oxygen molecule to make an inert gas, smothering the fire invisibly.
Unfortunately it is an exceptionally dangerous chemical. A small amount inhaled can be fatal and is one of the worst Ozone depletants known to mankind. A small 1kg extinguisher of BCF will deplete a hole in the atmospheric ozone layer 1.5 cubic kilometres in size and is a banned substance under the Montreal Protocol 1986.
If you have a BCF Extinguisher contact us for safe disposal of its contents. Do not discharge this into the air as this can lead to prosecution under New Zealand law.
Passive fire protection
One of the big new issues facing the construction industry is the signoff of fire rated walls particularly the sealing of penetrations such as cables, pipes, ducts and other openings. Traditionally this has been left to individual trades to fill the openings they have made, but recently inspections have found that almost no trades are correctly sealing these penetrations and fire engineers are reluctant to sign these off without ensuring they are done correctly. This is a big concern as the individual trades are generally not qualified or experienced and often use inappropriate products - tradespeople regularly fill cavities with expanding foam on its own, where the BRANZ testing is with steel inner sleeves and fire rated mastic on the exposed surfaces. Evidence of correct installation is invisible once the task is complete and it is impossible to tell if the penetration has been completed incorrectly and will fail in a fire.
A record is kept of each penetration to allow accuracy for Code Compliance sign-off.
As has happened in other parts of the country, the main building contractors are now tending to have all of the penetrations sealed by a specialist contractor once the services are installed. This ensures correct products are used for each opening and the seals are made to the correct fire ratings. This is certified by a PS3 by the contractor and the Fire Engineer then has confidence in issuing a PS4 for the Code Compliance. Often the issues relating to the sealing of penetrations only comes out during the final inspection as the deadline for handing the site over to the client is looming. The sealing process at this stage can cause the undoing of finished surfaces, add delays, and potentially incur penalties.
FFP Canterbury Ltd are fully certified to install and certify fire penetrations as a separate and specific trade. Our qualified and experienced teams have installed systems in a number of buildings under the instruction of the main contractor and provide certification of each penetration using the correct product for each seal.
We complete this during the works period and consult on the most efficient means of providing services ducts to accommodate multiple services to ensure the costs of sealing are kept minimal. One duct for many services is more efficient to seal than many small openings, the problem is that only an experienced contractor can provide a solution for mixed multiple services.
We are able to provide certified, approved solutions for the sealing of:
- PVC and plastic pipes
- Metal pipes
- Ventilation Ducts (dampers must be installed by the HVAC contractors)
- Cables single, multiple and in cable trays
- Large ducts with multiple services
Each penetration is individually recorded, photographed and mapped on as-built drawings for the engineer to be able to verify as required and for any future inspections. This plan can then be included as a part of the building Compliance Schedule. This ensures these openings retain the correct fire rating as the wall, and the engineers can sign off the building to complete the consent process. If you are a fire engineer, this service provides you piece of mind when issuing a PS4 for a building.
Contact our team today to find out more on passive fire protection.