Domestic Fire Sprinklers

Written By: - Date published: 12:44 pm, June 18th, 2017 - 14 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags:

For almost two decades there have been a number of perfectly acceptable domestic fire sprinkler solutions available in the NZ market. When building new I always wear the modest extra cost of installing them; our first ones during 2002. For most units it amounts to something under $4,000 which frankly is peanuts in the wider scheme of things.

The NZ Fire Service has persistently campaigned to raise awareness around this exceedingly effective way to save lives.

Yet it’s now 2017 and our building regulations remain silent on the topic. In light of recent events, this post needs no more elaboration.

14 comments on “Domestic Fire Sprinklers”

  1. Whispering Kate 1

    I heard a guy on the news the other night saying in NZ it was mandatory for sprinklers to be in buildings eight storeys or higher and I thought surely that shouldn’t be so. I thought can that be true – I would have thought that there should be fire sprinklers in buildings wherever people resided from the ground floor up. We have some pretty piss poor safety regulations in this country if this is correct. But then considering some of the new buildings regulations I suppose anything goes these days. I wouldn’t like to be in some of our really big apartment towers sprouting up all over Auckland.

  2. greywarshark 2

    Some reports on the cladding and NZ application and some footage of Grenfell Towers.
    http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2017/06/nz-councils-checking-buildings-after-shocking-london-fire.html

    But a New Zealand cladding company told Newshub aluminium composite panels have been used on buildings here since the 1980s, and possibly earlier.
    The company, which didn’t want to be named, told Newshub it only uses fire-rated ACP cladding with a mineral core, but says there has been a lot of lower-cost, non-fire-rated material used in the industry.

    The lower-cost material often has flammable polyethylene in its core, which is what was in Grenfell Tower’s cladding.
    But it’s hard to tell the difference between that and the fire-rated mineral-core ACP, unless samples are taken and tested.

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2017/06/nz-councils-checking-buildings-after-shocking-london-fire.html

    and
    http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/world/2017/06/london-apartment-fire-cladding-maker-warned-against-using-panels.html

  3. greywarshark 3

    In the first link there is reference to sprinkler use in NZ, from about 3 minutes on, which must be installed if over 8 stories but may be only if under 8 stories. Nick Smith is also interviewed and has reports from his ministry and is confident that we do okay. A further interviewee said that a docklands fire in Australia that had the cladding didn’t result in loss of life, I think he meant that it had a sprinkler system.

    If a sprinkler system is in place with proper stairways, the fire should be contained and not spread to the outer cladding. That is the thinking. However with very high buildings like Grenfell, every care should have been taken, non inflammable outside and inside and sprinklers and safe stairs and exits. And perhaps a mandatory jail sentence as well as compensation to the affected families. That would sharpen up the serious attention of those involved.

    • RedLogix 3.1

      The OP is really about domestic installations. The design goal of these systems is much less rigorous than has been traditionally required for larger, multi-storied buildings. Their intention is to operate for at least 10 minutes after a fire starts, which is long enough to extinguish most small domestic fires, save lives and greatly reduce property damage.

      They are only applicable for single/two storey domestic homes and fall under a different design code. It is much less expensive than the more complex and sophisticated one required for larger buildings.

      Sadly many people are still not really aware of them.

  4. greywarshark 4

    That is interesting RedLogix. I remember once I had an idea that might reduce fires and rang the local fire station and asked whether my idea was in practice or who I should go to. The person on the phone was uninterested and i wonder if the way the Fire Service has been run has led to a top-down, reactionary approach to consideration about fires.

    Often NZ approach is to lecture people, blame people, and put the onus on people rather than looking at ways where people can be helped by pointing up problems to remain alert to. There should be an agreement with insurance companies on reduced annual policy cost for buildings with approved sprinklers, an incentive that would save everyone money and precious resources. And on other household danger points – there is only one stove I think, that has a light by each element control to show it is on, I would like to see that sort of warning aid getting an insurance discount. I would like to see an automatic drop in element setting after 3 minutes on very hot so cooking would keep going but the stove heat would drop considerably, and fire and burn out pots would be less likely.

    Under deregulation the pendulum has swung away from practical interaction with the public and replace with published warnings in formal speak. Regulation gets cranked up when someone wants to save government money. We now have health and safety regulations that are often cumbersome and pedantic.

    I thought it was interesting to see how official warnings can get hung up on official speak – there were numerous notices about changing the speed limit on the alternative road to Christchurch but I couldn’t find in them what the actual new speed limit was.

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 5

    But but but but what sort of rational householder can’t afford batteries for their free market smoke detectors? Burning to death is a choice that poor people make.

    • RedLogix 5.1

      Domestic fire sprinklers require no batteries and zero intervention from the tenant. Basically most of our tenants don’t even know they are there; only a few have ever noticed the unusual and unobtrusive little dome in the ceiling.

    • greywarshark 5.2

      OAB
      You bring up the cost of batteries. There is also the problem of getting up to ceiling level to manipulate the workings of the smoke alarm. So a ‘sturdy’ stepladder is needed, or a very sturdy chair and a sick or shaky person, particularly the elderly will have problems getting up there, and more likely to result in a fall.

      The intensive screech is a horrible noise and hard to stop when lack of battery energy or something else, non threatening starts it.
      The feeling may be that when there are a number of alarms around the house the result is likely to be too alarming on an everyday basis!

      One thing that should be encouraged is smoke alarms being installed on a wall high up, but easier to reach than ceiling level and less likely to result in a fall. A good idea for caravan owners is to have their smoke alarm attached with velcro, which make it easier and more adaptable for intermittent use or put up after finishing cooking etc.

  6. Ad 6

    In western Auckland the licensing trusts gave out free fire alarms to everyone in their area, with proof that they lived in the area. It was easily 7-8 years ago, but still one of the most positive and memorable distributions that the Trusts have ever done.

    • RedLogix 6.1

      Nothing wrong with smoke detectors at all; they do save lives. Sprinklers are just way better.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Every day that goes by it gets weirder. Surely someone has a list of occupants and has been able to organise at least a rudimentary roll call by now.

      In the absence of reliable information, speculation and suspicion will grow to fill the vacuum.

  7. jcuknz 8

    In a small kitchen I have two hotplates covered with a removable bench top. They are on a circuit simply for them which is only turned on when I use one of them perhaps once every three/four weeks.
    This is to cook up a frypan which after cooking makes five pottles of ‘meat’ to be frozen and reheated in my microwave with rice or pasta.
    I have had this frypan for over twenty years now and the only time it has been burnt was when my visiting son used it to cook bacon and eggs…. why? because I made a metal ring to support it above the element, ‘Wok Style’ I believe. He obviously used direct contact with the element. I usually leave it unattended for several hours to ‘slow cook’ as it bubbles happily on low heat[ below ‘1’ on the 1-5 dial.
    Of course I designed and built my cottage to suit myself which most folk are incapable of doing for various reasons. Sprinklers look a great idea but I didn’t know about them until now. That is assuming I could have afforded such a system back then 🙂

    • RedLogix 8.1

      Sounds interesting. Appliance manufacturers probably could do a fair bit more to reduce the very big risk of cooking accidents.

      The cost of domestic sprinklers is a lot less than people imagine. They are designed to a much more relaxed standard intended to be ‘good enough’ to work in say 95% of scenarios.

      First of all they are plumbed into the standard town water supply. No extra pumps, tanks or valves. The distribution pipes can be in plastic, the idea being if the fire reaches the ceiling cavity the sprinkler hasn’t worked and it was game over anyway. Typically only one, or sometimes two, heads are required per room. Low risk areas like cupboards are not covered. A typical unit might only require 5 or 6 heads at most and the cost of these is not great.

      A sprinkler head is hidden behind a small, unobtrusive dome that has a eutectic alloy which melts (at about 75 degC) and drops off, the head itself then activates at a slightly higher temperature and drives a fine spray into the room. The idea of the spray is to rapidly absorb the infra-red heat energy of the fire and prevent it from spreading.

      Ideally the pipes are in a big loop configuration and the far side of the loop from the supply point is plumbed to a toilet cistern to keep the water in the sprinkler system from ‘dead legging’. This means you don’t need special isolation valves at the town supply side.

      Nor are there any alarms, batteries or any kind of regular maintenance.

Leave a Comment

Show Tags

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Te Ture Whenua – gone by lunchtime?
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell has to front up about yesterday’s mysterious withdrawal of Te Ture Whenua Bill from Parliament’s order paper, says Labour’s Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.  “Has he lost his way and has decided to run ...
    12 hours ago
  • Bill English ignorance of law beggars belief
    For Bill English to claim he and others in the National Party didn’t realise the law may have been broken in the Todd Barclay taping scandal is simply not credible, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister ...
    14 hours ago
  • Government ignored advice on Pacific people’s superannuation
    The Government ignored advice from the Ministry of Pacific Peoples that raising the Superannuation age of eligibility would have a ‘disproportionately high impact’ on Pacific people, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Aupito William Sio.   “The Ministry for Pacific ...
    20 hours ago
  • Bill English misleads Parliament on Police statement
    Bill English's attempt to restore his damaged credibility over the Todd Barclay affair has backfired after his claim to have "reported" Mr Barclay's actions to Police has proven not to be true, says Labour MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson. ...
    1 day ago
  • Keep it Public
    The Green Party strongly supports the Tertiary Education Unions call to #KeepitPublic Keep what public? Out quality tertiary education system that National is trying to open up to more private for-profit providers with a new law change. The (Tertiary Education ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 day ago
  • This ‘technical error’ is hurting big time
    Jonathan Coleman cannot resort to his ongoing litany that the Ministry of Health’s $38 million budget blunder is an error on paper only, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “He might keep saying it’s a ‘technical error’ but the reality ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour to invest in public transport for Greater Christchurch
    Labour will commit $100m in capital investment for public transport in Greater Christchurch, including commuter rail from Rolleston to the CBD, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “As the rebuild progresses, there are huge opportunities for Greater Christchurch, but ...
    2 days ago
  • Green Party will repeal solar tax
    It’s ridiculous for an electricity distribution monopoly to apply a charge on solar panels but worse than that, it’s harming our effort to tackle climate change. Hawke’s Bay lines company Unison last year announced a new solar charge for their ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 days ago
  • English fails the character test over Barclay
    Bill English is hoping this scandal will go away, but he is still dodging important questions over his role in covering up for Todd Barclay, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 days ago
  • Government must apologise for Christchurch schools stuff-up
    The Ombudsman’s findings that the Ministry of Education botched the reorganisation of Christchurch schools after the 2011 earthquake are damning for an under-fire National Government, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. “The Ombudsman has found the reorganisation of schools in ...
    2 days ago
  • Government’s multinational tax measures weak
    The Government’s proposals to crack down on multinational tax avoidance, by its own admission only recovering one third of the missing money, means hardworking Kiwis will bear more of the tax burden, says Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. “The Government ...
    3 days ago
  • World Refugee Day – we can do our bit
    I’m really proud that yesterday, on World Refugee Day, the Greens launched an ambitious plan to increase the refugee quota to 5000 over the next six years. Of those places, 4,000 will be directly resettled by the government and another ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    3 days ago
  • PM’s leadership in question over Barclay affair
    The Prime Minister must belatedly show some leadership and compel Todd Barclay to front up to the Police, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Twice today Bill English has been found wanting in this matter. ...
    3 days ago
  • Another memory lapse by Coleman?
    The Minister of Health ‘couldn’t recall’ whether the Director General of Health Chai Chuah offered his resignation over the Budget funding fiasco involving the country’s District Health Boards, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “In the House today Jonathan Coleman ...
    3 days ago
  • Bill English needs to come clean over Barclay
    Bill English needs to explain why he failed to be upfront with the public over the actions of Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay, following revelations that he knew about the secretly recorded conversations in the MP’s electorate office, says Labour Leader ...
    4 days ago
  • Minister, show some backbone and front up and debate
    Rather than accusing critics of his Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill of telling ‘lies’, Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell should show some backbone and front up to a debate on the issue, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. “Te ...
    4 days ago
  • Equal pay for mental health workers
    Today, mental health workers are filing an equal pay claim through their unions. Mental health support workers do important and difficult work in our communities. But because the workforce is largely female, they are not paid enough. It’s wrong for ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    5 days ago
  • Nats’ HAM-fisted housing crisis denial
    National’s decision to knowingly release a flawed Housing Affordability Measure that underestimates the cost of housing is the latest evidence of their housing crisis denial, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    5 days ago
  • New Pike footage builds compelling case for mine re-entry
    New footage of the Pike River Mine deep inside the operation, revealing no fire damage or signs of an inferno, provides a compelling reason to grant the families of Pike River’s victims their wish to re-enter the drift, says Labour ...
    5 days ago
  • Labour will get tough on slum boarding houses
    The next Labour-led Government will legislate a Warrant of Fitness based on tough minimum standards to clean out slum boarding houses, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “It’s not acceptable for New Zealanders in the 21st Century to be living ...
    6 days ago
  • Green Party tribute to Dame Nganeko Minhinnick
    Haere ngā mate ki tua o paerau; te moenga roa o ngā mātua tupuna. Haere, haere, haere. It was with a huge sense of loss that we learned of the death of Dame Nganeko Minhinnick yesterday. The Green Party acknowledges ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Urgent answers needed on DHB funding
      Jonathan Coleman must come clean and answer questions about what actual funding DHBs received in Budget 2017, says Labour Health Spokesperson David Clark.   ...
    1 week ago
  • Treasury puts Māori Land Service on red alert
    A damning Treasury report raises serious questions about the delivery of Te Ururoa Flavell’s proposed Māori Land Service, giving it a ‘red’ rating which indicates major issues with the project, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.  “Treasury’s Interim Major Projects Monitoring ...
    1 week ago
  • Economy stalling after nine years of National’s complacency
    The second successive quarterly fall in per person growth shows the need for a fresh approach to give all New Zealanders a fair share in prosperity, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    1 week ago
  • Kiwi kids deserve much more
    All Kiwi kids deserve so much more than the impoverished picture painted by the shameful rankings provided by the UNICEF Innocenti Report Card, says Labour’s children spokesperson Jacinda Ardern. ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ Zone a precursor to a total nuclear weapon ban
    New Zealand’s nuclear-free zone, legislated by Parliament in 1987, is something we all take pride in. It’s important, however, that we don’t let it thwart its own ultimate purpose – a world free of nuclear weapons. That goal must be ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham
    1 week ago
  • English must confirm we still stand by our principles on UN resolution
    Bill English must tell New Zealand whether we remain in support of the UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “After Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee’s evasive answers to repeated questions on ...
    1 week ago
  • Māori party drop the poi on Māori health
    The Māori Party have dropped the poi when it comes to supporting Ngati Whakaue and Māori interests in Bay of Plenty by allowing an iwi owned and operated service Te Hunga Manaaki to be brushed aside in favour of a ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour to invest in Whanganui River infrastructure
    Labour will work in partnership with the Whanganui Council to repair and redevelop the city’s Port precinct in advance of planned economic development and expansion. To enable Whanganui’s plans, Labour will commit $3m in matching funding for repairing the Whanganui ...
    1 week ago
  • Parihaka: an apology
    An apology only works for healing if it is sincere and if it is accepted. We teach our children to apologise and to be genuine if they want to be forgiven. On Friday, June 9 at Parihaka, the Crown apologised ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Survey shows many international students plan to stay in NZ after study
    Most international students in New Zealand at PTEs (private training establishments) who have a plan for themselves after study intend to stay in New Zealand to work. This shows how low-level education has become a backdoor immigration route under National, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Councils step up as Nats drop the ball on housing crisis
    Phil Goff’s Mayoral Housing Taskforce is another positive example of councils stepping up where National has failed on housing, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for a breather on immigration
    Labour will introduce moderate, sensible reforms to immigration to reduce the pressure on our cities, while ensuring we get the skilled workers our country needs, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “New Zealand is a country built on immigration. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Inaction puts Māui dolphins at risk
    Conservation Minister Maggie Barry was at the United Nations Oceans Conference in New York last week, trying to convince the world that the New Zealand Government is doing a good job at protecting our marine environment.  Yet last week after ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    2 weeks ago
  • National unprepared as immigration runs four times faster than forecast
    National has been caught asleep at the wheel by record immigration that has outstripped Budget forecasts, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • First home buyers shouldn’t carry the can for National’s failed policies
    The introduction of tighter limits on lending to first home buyers would see them paying the price for the National Party’s failure to recognise or fix the housing crisis, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Nine years of denial and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Motel bill blows out as Nats fail to deliver emergency housing
    Minister Amy Adams has admitted at select committee that National has now spent $22m on putting homeless families in motels as it fails to deliver the emergency housing places it promised, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister, how out of touch are you?
    What was going through Jonathan Coleman’s head in the Health Select Committee this morning when he claimed he was unaware that an estimated 533,000 people have missed out on a GP’s visit in the last 12 months due to cost, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Divided we fall
    I’m getting pretty sick of the politics of division in this country.  The latest example was yesterday’s comments from NZ First leader Winston Peters having a good go in the House at driving up fear and loathing towards people of ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s Electoral Amendment Bill to enhance democracy
    Democracy will be enhanced under Labour’s Private Member’s Bill which will have its First Reading today, says Labour’s Local Government spokesperson MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Police underfunded despite rise in crime
    As crime continues to rise dairy owners are scared for their lives and communities reel under a record increase in burglary numbers, it has now been revealed that Police received less than three quarters of their bid in this year’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Road pricing years off, public transport investment needed now
    With road pricing still years away, Labour will step up with investment in public transport to ease Auckland’s congestion woes, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call to protect Easter Sunday in Auckland
    Auckland’s Labour MPs are backing the community to protect Easter Sunday by retaining current trading restrictions in the city, says Labour MPs Aupito William Sio and Michael Wood.  “The Government’s weak and confusing decision to delegate the decision over Easter ...
    2 weeks ago
  • $2.3 billion shortfall in health
    The funding needed for health to be restored to the level it was seven years ago to keep pace with cost pressures has widened to a massive $2.3 billion, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.  “We used to have a health ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Catherine Delahunty: My Mataura River visit
    On June 1st the Greens swimmable rivers tour visited the Mataura river and communities connected to it. All we need now is a Government willing to set clear strong rules and support the new conversation about measuring our success by ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    3 weeks ago