Plumbing

Plumbing in bushfire prone areas

24/07/2020
Image of an active bushfire

Plumbing practitioners look to the PCA and AS/NZS 3500 for technical requirements for plumbing and drainage installations, but what additional requirements are there for the design, construction and installation of plumbing and drainage systems in bushfire-prone areas?

In an April 2020 Connect article, Standards Australia provided information about AS 3959:2018 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas. In this article, we look at requirements for bushfire-prone areas that are relevant to plumbing.

NCC Volumes One and Two (the BCA) require certain buildings in a designated bushfire-prone area to be (to the degree necessary) designed and constructed to reduce the risk of ignition from a bushfire. This is generally achieved through compliance with AS 3959.

AS 3959 contains requirements for plumbing and drainage systems (water services, sanitary plumbing and drainage systems, and stormwater drainage systems) that are additional to those found in AS/NZS 3500. It is primarily concerned with improving the ability of buildings in designated bushfire-prone areas to better withstand bushfire attack, thereby better protecting residents.

The PCA highlights, in explanatory information for cross-volume considerations, where the BCA requirements affect the design, construction or installation of a plumbing or drainage system. For plumbing and drainage systems in bushfire-prone areas, this relates to pipework external to the building and penetrations through the roof cladding. Relevant cross-volume considerations in the PCA are provided for cold water services (B1.4), heated water services (B2.9), non-drinking water services (B3.3), fire-fighting water services (B4.2) and sanitary plumbing systems (C1.3).

Plumbing practitioners must also be aware of the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) classification for a project’s location, and ensure that their work meets the bushfire requirements for that classification. It is also recommended to check with the local authority or building surveyor in case additional requirements apply.

Want to know more?

Access the PCA free online, or AS 3959 from the SAI Global website (open access until June 2021).

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