Evaluating methods for fire protection and related fire risk categories in rural towns of the Western Cape, South Africa

Myburgh, Erena (2012-03)

Thesis (MScEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Water flows required for fire protection (fire flows) from water distribution systems (WDS) in rural towns in the Western Cape Province, South Africa, were evaluated as part of this research project. The fire flow requirements specified in different South African guidelines, as well as a number of international standards, were compared. Various guidelines and codes used in South Africa, including the South African National Standards, specify fire flow requirements according to the risk category of the area concerned. Alternative methods of firefighting and new firefighting technologies that can reduce the reliance on potable water resources for firefighting were evaluated. The traditional method of designing a WDS to provide potable water for firefighting, commonly employed in South African municipal areas formed the focus of the study. The potential fire risk costs (potential costs of damages if a fire was to occur) should also be considered, in addition to the network construction costs, when designing a WDS, in order to determine the most economically feasible option. Data obtained from the fire departments of three municipalities in rural towns of the Western Cape, was analysed to determine the actual flow rates that were required to extinguish fires in these towns. The records considered covered approximately one year in each case and included a total of 564 fire incident reports suitable for this study. According to the data, a small fraction (11%) of the fires was extinguished using water from the WDS by connecting firefighting equipment directly to a fire hydrant. The majority of the fires were extinguished by means of water ejected from a firefighting vehicle. This method implies the use of water drawn from the potable network at a certain location; the water is shuttled by firefighting vehicles, from either the fire station or from a central abstraction point in the WDS. The location of the said abstraction point was found to have a notable impact on the WDS and this received attention in this study. The data showed that 99.8% of the flows required in rural towns were lower than the flows recommended for moderate risk areas in typical South African guidelines. Hydraulic modelling of a hypothetical WDS model was conducted to illustrate that the provision of fire flows according to commonly used South African fire flow standards leads to higher costs. The latter hypothetical case study illustrates that designing a network to provide fire flows according to the referred standards resulted in 15% higher costs, compared to designing a network that would have provided for the actual recorded fire flows according to the data set obtained from the selected rural towns compiled for this study. The hypothetical case study also showed that the cost for a WDS, where sufficient pressure is required at all hydrants during peak fire flows, is 2.4% higher than the cost for a distribution system where water is supplied via predetermined hydrants for refilling firefighting vehicles. A WDS with central, predetermined abstraction points for refilling firefighting vehicles offers a solution to providing fire flows in areas where the distribution systems may be inadequate. The revision of the current fire flow standards of South Africa would, therefore, be a logical next step along with the reassessment of methods used for supplying fire flows.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Water vloei vir brandbestryding (brandvloei) uit waterverspreidingstelsels (WVS) in plattelandse dorpe in die Wes-Kaap, Suid Afrika, is as deel van hierdie navorsingsprojek geëvalueer. Die brandvloei soos gespesifiseer in verskillende Suid-Afrikaanse riglyne, asook ʼn aantal internasionale standaarde is vergelyk. Verskeie riglyne en kodes wat in Suid-Afrika gebruik word, insluitende die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Standaarde, spesifiseer brandvloei-vereistes op grond van die risiko-kategorie van ʼn spesifieke gebied. ʼn Verskeidenheid alternatiewe metodes vir brandbestryding en nuwe brandbestrydings-tegnologieë is ondersoek, om sodoende die afhanklikheid van ons beperkte drinkbare waterbronne vir brandbestryding te verminder. Die tradisionele metode om water aan munisipale areas te voorsien, die gebruik van ʼn WVS, is ook geassesseer. Hierdie metodes dui daarop dat die potensiële brandgevaar-kostes (potensiële koste van skade indien ʼn brand sou plaas vind) ook in ag geneem moet word, tesame met die konstruksie kostes van ʼn WVS, om sodoende die mees ekonomies haalbare netwerk te bepaal. Data wat verkry is vanaf die brandweer departement van drie plattelandse munisipaliteite in die Wes-Kaap is ontleed om die werklike vloei-tempos vas te stel wat nodig was om brande te blus in hierdie dorpe. Die data is verkry vir ʼn tydperk van een jaar en 564 brandverslae was bruikbaar vir die doeleindes van hierdie studie. Volgens die data was ʼn lae aantal (11%) van die brande geblus vanuit die WVS deur die koppeling van brandbestrydingstoerusting direk aan ʼn brandkraan. Die meeste van die brande is geblus met behulp van water wat voorsien is deur ʼn brandbestrydingsvoertuig. Met hierdie metode word water deur die brandbestrydings-voertuie aangery vanaf die brandweerstasie of onttrek vanuit ʼn sentrale ontrekkingspunt in die WVS. Daar is gevind dat die ligging van laasgenoemde ontrekkingspunt ʼn beduidende impak op die WVS het – hierdie aspek is daarom verder ondersoek. Die data het getoon dat 99.8% van die vloei-tempo’s wat nodig is om brande te blus in plattelandse dorpe, laer is as die brandvloei riglyne vir matige risiko-areas volgens tipes Suid-Afrikaanse standaarde. Hidrouliese modellering van ʼn hipotetiese WVS is uitgevoer om te illustreer dat die verskaffing van brandvloei volgens die standaarde wat algemeen gebruik word, hoër kostes tot gevolg het. Die laasgenoemde hipotetiese gevallestudie illustreer dat ʼn netwerk ontwerp om brandvloei te verskaf volgens die huidige standaarde 15% duurder is as vir netwerke wat ontwerp is om die werklike aangetekende brandvloei te voorsien soos getoon deur die veld-data wat vir hierdie studie verkry is. Die hipotetiese gevallestudie het ook getoon dat die koste vir ʼn WVS, waar voldoende drukke gehandhaaf moet word by alle brandkrane terwyl piek brand vloeie voorsien word, 2.4% duurder is as vir ʼn WVS waar die brandvloei verskaf word by voorafbepaalde brandkrane vir die hervulling van brandbestrydingsvoertuie. ʼn WVS met sentrale onttrekkingspunte vir die hervulling van brandbestrydingsvoertuie, bied ʼn metode om brandvloei te voorsien in gebiede waar die WVS onvoldoende is, bv. informele nedersettings. Die hersiening van die huidige brandvloei standaarde van Suid Afrika sou dus ʼn logiese volgende stap wees, tesame met die herevaluering van die metodes wat gebruik word vir die verskaffing van brandvloei.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20066
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