An Australian-designed bushfire protection system is being introduced that can be remotely activated by telephone to drench danger areas of building exteriors when life and property are under threat.
CalAir’s Fire-Pro EWSS (External Water Spray System) is designed as a safe and practical alternative to last-resort measures, such as people rushing home from work and holidays to stand on roofs with garden hoses as fires approach.
The system can be remotely activated by mobile phone text message, after owners and property managers learn of fire alerts, while they are absent from their property.
The semi-automatic system is designed to operate in two tiers, with the first delivering water to the roof and other areas where combustible material collects. The second tier provides window drenching after low-voltage heat detectors sense a rise in temperature from radiant heat.
“If for example you’re absent and the neighbours ring to say a fire is approaching, you simply text a message to the system’s pump and it starts the system,” says CalAir Pipe Systems Managing Director Mr John McNab. “The EWSS system is programmed to text you messages back to tell you it is starting the pump, that water is flowing and when the fire protection system is in full operation.
“After the danger is past, you can ring up to turn it off and it tells you as it does so,” said Mr McNab, who set out to design his bushfire protection system after seeing neighbours burnt out by bushfires in north-western Sydney three summers ago.
The EWSS system – the first examples of which are being installed in Queensland and NSW this summer – is suitable for installation into new construction ranging from suburban houses and country buildings, through to valuable public and private assets such as schools and industrial estates in bushfire-prone areas.
The system features low-profile Roof Mist and Eave Drencher spray nozzles especially designed for weathertight installation while providing blanket coverage of external areas posing greatest risk. Its RM1 nozzles protect against flying embers on roofs and gutters, while ED1 nozzles protect windows and doors.
CalAir spray nozzle designs provide optimum droplet size at minimum flow and pressure to avoid early depletion of water supplies. Drawing water from either swimming pools or dedicated tanks, the system comes complete with pipe and pipe fittings, hose assemblies, spray nozzles, valves, heat detectors and with pumping equipment from industry leader Davey Pumps.
CalAir says Fire-Pro EWSS is Australia’s first professionally designed and manufactured bushfire protection system for new houses and light commercial buildings (such as storage sheds, warehouses and suburban industrial complexes), featuring unobtrusive built-in installation with all major pipe system components located within the roof space.
Its compact design means the system can be installed into roof spaces as tight as 150mm, making it suitable for vaulted and cathedral ceilings.
The result of several years’ development by CalAir - which has installed more than 6500 of its industrial and commercial long-life polymer liquid and gas piping systems since 1988 – the first earlier model Fire-Pro EWSS installations are completed or under way in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. The latest remotely activated models are being installed into new houses in Brisbane and on NSW’s South Coast.
“We believe this product is the first professionally produced household bushfire protection system available in Australia, coming as a complete system that is the result of vast experience in commercial and industrial piping system markets,” said Mr McNab.
“Compared with the loss, devastation and personal risk of current methods of fire protection – which rely on householders and fire personnel exposing themselves to extreme danger - this is a very cost-effective investment. It is also designed to be easy to install during building,” said Mr McNab.
The system’s easily installed piping - made from an advanced polymer containing flame retardants - is eight times lighter than traditional galvanized steel piping, will not corrode either internally or externally, and does not require specialist labour or welding.
Major advantages of the CalAir system include safe installation without having to walk on the roof. The pipe system’s ring main is installed within the roof cavity without specialist tools. Industrial grade flexible hosing carries water to nozzles projecting outside where they cover hazard areas.
In addition to not having ugly pipelines covering roofs, the CalAir system prevents damage resulting from installers or inspectors walking upon them. The system is installed from within the roof cavity.