Plenty of Queensland commercial building owners are surprised when they learn that maintaining the street hydrant is their responsibility, not the councils.
In reality, maintaining the street hydrant is indeed the responsibility of the building owner and keeping up with this responsibility plays a critical role in public safety. The property damage and potential loss of life caused by a fire that has taken place in residential, commercial and industrial premises is a serious concern to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES). It is of the utmost importance that firefighters have easy access to water supply from a hydrant system (Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, 2019).
So how do you cover yourself? How can you be sure your fire hydrant is up to scratch if a fire were to occur? Read on to learn why commercial building owners must be vigilant with the maintenance of their onsite hydrant system, plus, how they should go about maintaining it.
What Is A Fire Hydrant?
A hydrant is a valve that is connected to the water main. This gives fire services and authorised users access to the main water supply (Fire and Rescue NSW, 2021). These can be both above ground and below ground hydrants (Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, 2019).
How Important Are Fire Hydrants?
Our firefighters rely on Queensland’s hydrants to do their job. They use the hydrant for a continuous flow of water, which is critical to firefighting operations. A fire truck will only store enough water to make an initial fire attack. During the critical first few minutes of a fire emergency, the firefighter must access a continuous water supply from the water mains through a fire hydrant. For every fire emergency, accessing the fire hydrant and getting it to work correctly is a priority. It is paramount the firefighters can access the hydrant without delay. This will help ensure that the firefighters in the building who are responsible for search and rescue, or putting out the fire, can continue working for as long as possible. If your onsite hydrant system is faulty in any way, this is your responsibility – and liability.
Fire Hydrants Too Often Lack Proper Maintenance
Too often, QLD firefighters can’t access the onsight hydrant – it may be hidden or just not maintained properly. This is not just frustrating for the firefighter; it can have devastating ramifications. It is vital more people, including commercial building owners, understand the importance of hydrants; so they can make sure their onsite hydrant is usable – at all times.
Fire hydrants can be hidden or under maintained when:
- Grass or vegetation has grown over the hydrant cover.
- Dirt, earth or rubbish has been piled over a hydrant.
- Cars are parked on top of a hydrant.
- Gardens have grown over a hydrant.
- Hydrants have been relocated due to building construction.
- Markers have worn out or been dislodged.
- Insects have infested a hydrant (Fire and Rescue NSW, 2021).
Unfortunately, plenty of commercial building owners with an onsite hydrant system may have a faulty or unusable hydrant without even knowing it. That’s why it’s critical to have your hydrant regularly checked to ensure you remain compliant with the requirements of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
Street Hydrant Performance
Fire hydrants are required to meet “feed” hydrant performance. This ensures that the water is supplied to the fire truck pump in a reliable manner. The pressure available from the street main and hydrant deteriorates overtime as the equipment corrodes. As such, it’s imperative that this is regularly maintained and serviced so that you, as the commercial building owner, are compliant with your hydrants and can fix accordingly as necessary.
The water utility and council pressure requirements are lower than the requirements of AS2419.1 and the QDC MP6.1 that the building occupier has to conform to. The same hydrant may be meeting the water utilities legislative requirements and failing to meet the building owners legislative requirements, but you should be diligent and thorough with keeping your commercial hydrants prepared in case a fire were to occur.
Street Hydrant Visibility
Fire hydrants must be visible so that firefighters can quickly access the water supplies in emergency situations. Hydrant indicators in QLD must be visually identifiable from both directions by the incoming fire truck crews. These hydrant indicators must also identify the precise location of the hydrant (Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, 2019). Looking at your onsite hydrant, how easily do you think firefighters could locate it in an emergency situation?
Street Hydrant Location
For hydrant locations that serve commercial properties in Queensland (including offices, warehouses and factories), above or below ground fire hydrants should be provided at no more than 90m intervals and at each street intersection. For above-ground fire hydrants, they should have dual valved outlets (Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, 2019).
So, Who Carries Out The Hydrant Maintenance?
Inspecting and testing of fire hydrants must be done by appropriately qualified professionals. Companies can only carry out the fire hydrant maintenance on a prescribed fire safety installation if they are licensed to do this work by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) or the Plumbing Industry Council (PIC) (Department of Local Government and Planning, 2011). To ensure you remain compliant, and to minimise liability in an emergency, completing regular checks by professionals is a non-negotiable.
When the occupier of the building has arranged for maintenance of their hydrant system, the qualified person (for example, a licenced contractor), must be informed of the age of the building. They also need to be provided with copies of the approved plans and Certificate of Classification, so that a qualified person is equipped with a thorough understanding of the building’s construction and the relevant legislation.
Cover Your Hydrant Maintenance With Hydraulic Testing & Certification
At Hydraulic Testing & Certification, we provide complete hydrant commissioning and hydrant maintenance services. Our hydrant commissioning tests that the hydrant system has been designed and installed correctly.
Our hydrant maintenance services take legislative pressure off building owners, as we manage their hydrant inspections and produce an Annual Occupier Statement. We don’t charge to rectify defects until we have diagnosed and explained the defect in full.
If you’d like to learn more about our hydrant testing and other services, be sure to get in touch with our expert team.
Department of Local Government and Planning. (2011). Queensland Development Code Mandatory Part 6.1 Commissioning and maintenance of fire safety installation. Queensland Government.
Fire and Rescue NSW. (2019). Fire + Rescue. HYDRANTS. Retrieved 2021, from
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services. (2019). Fire Hydrant and Vehicle Access Guidelines for Residential, Commercial and Industrial Lots.