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When a Hydrostatic Pressure Test of Fire Hydrant Systems is not required

Fire Rescue Victoria ("FRV") issues guidelines (GL-35) on conducting a hydrostatic test for new and existing fire hydrant systems, clarifying requirements for systems with and without brigade booster connections or pumps. This article provides a summary of GL-35 and the circumstances where a hydrostatic pressure test is not required.

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In Victoria, Fire and Rescue Victoria ("FRV") provide written guidelines to outline the FRV position and guidance for industry professionals such as building surveyors on specific building and dangerous goods related issues.

GL-35 was published in July 2007 and later reviewed in February 2020 and provides guidance on the Hydrostatic Testing and Maintenance of Fire Hydrant Systems that DO NOT incorporate a fire brigade booster connection.

Australian Standard AS 2419.1:2005 sets out the requirements of a hydrostatic pressure test is a test of the pipework and fittings forming part of a fire hydrant system to test for the "strength and water tightness of the system".

Appendix P of AS 2419.1:2005 provides information, procedures and performance requirements for conducting a hydrostatic pressure test of a fire hydrant system.

Circumstances where a hydrostatic pressure test is not required

In order to undertake a hydrostatic pressure test, a fire hydrant system may be fitted with a booster assembly and/or water supply pump(s) to augment the primary water supplyAS2419.1-2017, Clause 1.3.55 - Water Supply, Primary 
A supply via a direct connection to a reticulated water supply or on-site tank, or a supply drawn from a river, reservoir, lake, dam, sea or stored rainwater with pumps as required and associated pipework, that provides points of connection for the attending fire brigade to access water and is capable of providing the minimum required firefighting flow rate and pressure for the required duration.

According to the Practice Note; 

Clauses 1.4.17 and 10.2.2 of AS 2419.1-2005 confirmed that the hydrostatic test requirement does not apply to fire hydrant systems that do not incorporate fire brigade booster connections or on-site pump sets.

This is largely due to the determination that Clause 1.4.17 of the hydrant code references the term “working pressure”, which is defined within the hydrant design code as being:

“Working pressure – the maximum pressure achieved within the system by the fire authority, the system pumping equipment, or both, when the most hydraulically disadvantaged hydrant or hydrants are operated.”

Based on this definition, and the non-provision of fire brigade booster connections and pump sets at a building, the pressure within public (reticulated) water mains cannot be construed as working pressure, as the pressure available within the public water main is not achieved through the use of on-site fire brigade booster connections and pump sets.

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Now this references an old edition of AS 2419.1:2005 which has been superseded by the current edition of the Standard AS 2419.1:2017.  While the references are different, the logic of the practice note remains the same.  The corresponding clause in the new standard states;

Cl 1.3.37 Pressure, working
The pressure exerted within the system by the fire brigade, the system pumping equipment, or both, when the most hydraulically disadvantaged fire hydrant or fire hydrants are operated at the design flow.
NOTE: ‘Boost pressure’ for fire brigades is synonymous with ‘working pressure’ (see also pressure boost, Clause 1.3.34).

So while the Practice note refers to a old edition of the Standard, the logic remains the same. Therefore it stands to reason that the application of this Practice Note GL-35 still applies.