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DIY Fire Protection

How to: Install an External Roof Sprinkler System

Sprinkler Systems, also known as external water spray systems, will add considerable protection to a well prepared property. A Sprinkler System is used to cover the property with water and at the same time can be designed as a fire fighting resource.

Roof sprinkler systems, also known as external water spray systems, will add considerable protection for a well prepared property.

A roof sprinkler system is used to cover the property with water and at the same time can be designed as a fire fighting resource.

Apart from sprinkler heads, hose outlets can be incorporated into the system – (when there is enough pump capacity), hoses can then be attached and used to put out spot fires.

If there is a bush fire in your area and your property is well prepared it is important that you stay at home to start the roof sprinkler system manually and help fire-fighters protect your property, for as long as it is safe.

EFFECTIVE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS SHOULD MEET THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:

  1. As Mains Water Pressure is likely to be lost during bush fires, connect the Sprinkler System to an independent water supply.
  2. The independent water supply could be a swimming pool, a rainwater tank, a detention tank or dam and should be at least 22,000 litres.

WHAT KIND OF PUMP SYSTEM DO I USE?

Your system will require a petrol (or diesel) powered pump as power is likely to be lost during bush fires. Only use an electric pump if you have a backup power supply such as a generator.

Position your pump as close as possible to the water supply and use a 40mm or 50mm foot valve with a strainer when drawing water from an underground tank or dam. Check out the Matala Pump Defenders to go over the top of your foot valve as an insurance for your fire pump to make sure nothing blocks up the suction line leaving your pump to run dry!
Dural Irrigation can advise you on the correct pump for your needs, or visit our Firefighting Pumps to have a browse for yourself!
  • Always make sure all fittings are tight around the suction hose.
  • Keep the pump out of the weather and protected from the elements.
  • Prime pump before starting (fill pump with water).
  • Check pump for oil and fuel before starting.
  • Make sure pump is sitting level. A pump stand with rubber feet is ideal.
  • Always empty pump through the drainage hole when not in use for longer periods, to avoid rust and corrosion of inner pump.
  • Do not keep fuel in pump unit over winter as old fuel will deteriorate pump performance.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SPRINKLER HEADS TO USE?

Metal impact or butterfly sprinklers should be used for this type of system.

Each sprinkler head should be located so that its spray overlaps the next adjoining sprinkler, we call this head-to-head coverage. This allows for wind spray and loss as well as providing a more even coverage on the rooftop.

Metal Impact Sprinklers should be placed on the ridge of the house or gutter mounted and spaced 10m-12m apart. They can also be placed in the garden / lawn, on the side or front of the house, whichever is more likely to be impacted by bush fires. Impact Sprinklers cover about a 12m radius and use approximately 15-20 litres of water per minute.

Metal Butterfly Sprinklers should be fixed to eaves on a 45º angle below gutters. They also have a 6 metre radius and should be installed 5m-6m apart. They use approximately 12 litres of water per minute. Butterfly sprinklers should spray in front of the house, creating a curtain of water for protection.

HOW DO I INSTALL PIPEWORK ON MY ROOF FOR FIRE SPRINKLERS?

The pipe from the pump to the house should be at minimum 375mm below ground level and generally 50mm diameter poly pipe is recommended (1½” Rural-B or 50mm PN12 Metric Blue Line) to allow enough water coming through to facilitate each sprinkler. Use compression fittings for pipe and pump connections.

Due to radiant heat, all above ground piping should be copper. Copper pipe is very easy to work with and joins should be silver soldered.

Note: soft solder could fail in a fire due to its low melting point.

Compression fittings for copper are not recommended. A stainless steel vibration eliminator should be fitted when copper is used as the delivery pipe, to remove vibrations and water hammer.

Note: water hammer and / or vibrations could damage copper welds or fittings.

To maintain water volume and pressure to all sprinkler heads contact Dural Irrigation to work out an hydraulic plan for your rooftop.

Note: never decrease pipe size with long runs of pipe, as you will lose pressure and flow over distance.

Consider fitting ball valves in main pipe and takeoffs in order to redirect the water flow where it is needed at any one time. Using ball valves can also give you points at which you can connect a hose or hose reel to fight spot fires.

We recommend storz quick-connect fittings & percolating firefighting hose, as used by your local Bushfire Protection Authority.

HOW DO I TEST AND MAINTAIN MY SYSTEM?

TEST: Before the bush fire season starts test the pump and sprinklers and thereafter start the pump for 1 minute each week during the season and once or twice in the non-fire season. Experience shows that mud wasps, spider webs, and dust can be a problem in sprinkler heads and a regular flush is therefore required.

CLEAN: If you depend on a water tank, it is most important that when flushing your sprinkler system you don’t contaminate your drinking water with pool or dam water. Block stormwater pipes or divert run-off water away from tanks. Clear out any leaves from gutters as they could fuel a fire and or block up your pump.

IF YOU'RE USING POOL WATER...

Please note salt or chlorine is not good for plants – so it is a good idea to wash down all your plants after testing the sprinkler system if you pump water from a swimming pool.

If you are drawing water from a swimming pool it is advisable to wash down your roof & walls with town or tank water after a full system test to prevent long term staining or corrosion by the chlorine in the swimming pool water.

Parts of this document have been reproduced with the permission of the NSW Rural Fire Service.


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Yes, all roof sprinkler systems can be retrofitted to suit your structure including houses, sheds and stables. They are built using quality materials including copper pipes and brass fittings, with a range of sprinklers available to suit any application required for your property. If you require more sprinklers on the perimeter of your property, we can also design sprinkler systems for boundary fences, decking, and verandas.

Your roof sprinkler system should have an adequate independent water supply. It should be independent of town services, as  reticulated mains water is not always available nor can it be relied upon during a major fire because increased demand may reduce volume and pressure to many houses. We strongly recommended there is an independent water supply of at least 22,000 litres – This can be from a water tank, swimming pool, or dam.

During a bushfire, you may lose power and mains water pressure. If you need to defend your home, a generator and an independent water supply will come in handy. Pumps (petrol or diesel) and generators should be able to pump 400 litres per minute. Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to start and operate your generator. For this reason, generators with a push-button start are preferable to a pull-start. Please note an electric pump should only be used if an independent generator powers it.

A roof sprinkler system is used to cover your property with water and at the same time can be designed as a fire fighting resource. A roof top/roof mounted sprinkler system is a proven and effective way of reducing the risk of an ember attack on the home. Nearly all structural damage caused by a bushfire is due to ember attack. The sprinklers produce large droplets, which minimizes the chance of wind dispersing the water.

Metal Impact or Butterfly Sprinklers that can be gutter mounted and without plastic fittings should be used for this type of system. Brass sprinklers are the best, because than can withstand harsh environmental elements.  Impact Sprinklers cover about a 12m radius and use approximately 15-20 litres of water per minute. Metal Butterfly Sprinklers should be fixed to eaves on a 45º angle below gutters so they spray down the side of your property. They have a 6 metre radius and should be installed 5-6m apart. They use approximately 10-12 litres of water per minute.

Each sprinkler head should be located so that its spray overlaps the next adjoining sprinkler, we call this head-to-head. This helps to allow for wind spray as well as providing a more even coverage on the rooftop. Metal Impact Sprinklers should be placed on the ridge of the house & spaced 10m apart. They can also be placed in the garden / lawn on the side or front of the house whichever is likely to be impacted by bush fires.

LET US GUIDE YOU THROUGH YOUR NEXT PROJECT

Can roof sprinklers be installed on all types of roofs?

Yes, all roof sprinkler systems can be retrofitted to suit your structure including houses, sheds and stables. They are built using quality materials including copper pipes and brass fittings, with a range of sprinklers available to suit any application required for your property. If you require more sprinklers on the perimeter of your property, we can also design sprinkler systems for boundary fences, decking, and verandas.

Should my roof system have its own water supply?

Your roof sprinkler system should have an adequate independent water supply. It should be independent of town services, as  reticulated mains water is not always available nor can it be relied upon during a major fire because increased demand may reduce volume and pressure to many houses. We strongly recommended there is an independent water supply of at least 22,000 litres – This can be from a water tank, swimming pool, or dam.

What are my options if there is a power outage during a fire?

During a bushfire, you may lose power and mains water pressure. If you need to defend your home, a generator and an independent water supply will come in handy. Pumps (petrol or diesel) and generators should be able to pump 400 litres per minute. Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to start and operate your generator. For this reason, generators with a push-button start are preferable to a pull-start. Please note an electric pump should only be used if an independent generator powers it.

What is a roof sprinkler system?

A roof sprinkler system is used to cover your property with water and at the same time can be designed as a fire fighting resource. A roof top/roof mounted sprinkler system is a proven and effective way of reducing the risk of an ember attack on the home. Nearly all structural damage caused by a bushfire is due to ember attack. The sprinklers produce large droplets, which minimizes the chance of wind dispersing the water.

What are the best sprinklers for a roof system?

Metal Impact or Butterfly Sprinklers that can be gutter mounted and without plastic fittings should be used for this type of system. Brass sprinklers are the best, because than can withstand harsh environmental elements.  Impact Sprinklers cover about a 12m radius and use approximately 15-20 litres of water per minute. Metal Butterfly Sprinklers should be fixed to eaves on a 45º angle below gutters so they spray down the side of your property. They have a 6 metre radius and should be installed 5-6m apart. They use approximately 10-12 litres of water per minute.

Where should I position my sprinklers on the roof?

Each sprinkler head should be located so that its spray overlaps the next adjoining sprinkler, we call this head-to-head. This helps to allow for wind spray as well as providing a more even coverage on the rooftop. Metal Impact Sprinklers should be placed on the ridge of the house & spaced 10m apart. They can also be placed in the garden / lawn on the side or front of the house whichever is likely to be impacted by bush fires.

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