Australian Standard 1851-2005 to be upgraded
February-March 2010 – This year the important Australian Standard AS 1851–2005 Maintenance of Fire Protection Systems and Equipment will be updated – a move that will hopefully encourage a more streamlined uptake of key measures by all state and territory regulators. JOHN POWER reports.
One of the most vital Standards applicable to facility management is AS 1851–2005, which addresses the maintenance of such infrastructure as ceiling-mounted sprinkler systems, fire hydrants, booster pumps, and other important fire-related products and alarm systems.
The uptake and implementation of 1851–2005, like many national Standards, has rested with individual state and territory-based regulatory authorities. These relevant authorities are a mixed bunch, representing a broad suite of government departments and agencies across the nation.
When AS1851–2005 was created five years ago, its aim was to simplify and consolidate up to 18 separate Standards pertaining to fire equipment maintenance. The reality, however, has been a rather ‘selective’ adoption process by the various state and territory bodies.
The matter was considered in detail at the recent Fire Australia conference in Hobart late last year, when fire management consultant Barry Lee (speaking on behalf of the paper’s author Roger Thomas) outlined the history of the existing Standard and itemised his aspirations for the new 2010 version.
Lee noted that 1851–2005 posed some difficulties for the respective regulatory bodies, including potential clashes with state/territory government policies, confusion about the definition of ‘competent persons’ to carry out specific activities, the intent of the Standard in relation to systems and buildings of different ages, and a suite of similar challenges. The result, he explained, was a Standard with strong devotees in some states and few fans in others. He noted, for instance, that the Standard had not been picked up at all in Tasmania; and that in other states like Queensland and Victoria it applies only to buildings built after 2005.
TIME FOR AN UPGRADE
According to an Australian Standards spokesperson, “AS1851–2005 is undergoing a major revision to update technical requirements based on input from the fire protection industry.
“An important initiative for the committee [responsible for drafting the new document] is to revise the Standard to make it suitable for regulatory use. It is envisaged that fire systems and equipment maintenance will be regulated by the building authorities in the near future.
“Standards Australia is working towards a public comment stage in June 2010, with final publication targeted for December 2010.”
In light of the above comments, Facility Management will keep readers informed of any major changes relating to AS 1851–2010 and its future implementation across all jurisdictions.
QUALITY PLUS EFFICIENCY
Meantime, AS 1851–2005 not only outlines the minimum requirements for high-quality maintenance procedures, but it also encourages greater efficiencies during routine maintenance works.
Wormald, for example, is encouraging its customers to achieve water savings through a more water-efficient fire-testing regime.
As a leader and innovator within the Australian fire protection industry, Wormald is supporting customers who want to further reduce their water consumption during necessary regular servicing and testing of wet fire protection systems.
By embracing the latest AS 1851–2005 for fire system maintenance, the number of wet tests can be reduced from one every week to one per month.
The new testing regime’s individual tests are more comprehensive, plus there is required surveying and reporting for the building owner, including more detailed logbooks and records.
According to Garry Kwok, Wormald’s national technical services group manager, the new regime is also designed to reduce the risk of systems failing to operate when needed. The combination of these new processes and the reduced frequency of tests, Kwok says, will result in a significant amount of drinking water being saved each year.
Recognising the considerable water savings to be made through this new testing, Wormald has set itself a goal to save 120 million litres of water in Sydney each year. On a national scale, the company’s target is 600 million litres of water per year, i.e. the amount of water required to fill more than 13,000 average-sized swimming pools.