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Fire Water Tank Inspections: A Detailed Guide According to AS1851:2012

Fire water tanks serve as the first line of defence in the event of a fire, providing the necessary water supply for firefighting efforts. Regular inspection and maintenance of these tanks is of paramount importance to ensure they operate effectively when needed. In Australia, AS1851:2012 outlines the standards for routine service of fire protection systems and equipment, including fire water tanks.

CEO, Firewize
23 May, 2023

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When it comes to fire safety, water tank maintenance is a vital component. And if you're a building owner or manager, it's essential to be aware of the protocols prescribed by the Australian Standard AS1851:2012, which provides a comprehensive blueprint for fire water tank inspections.

According to Item 2.32 of AS1851:2012, a thorough drain, clean, and refill process should be performed after the first year of service and then every ten yearsA diver or other underwater inspection technique may be used in lieu of draining the tank in consultation with the tank manufacturer (to satisfy warranty requirements)..

To start, the tank should be drained, leaving a minimum of 50mm of water to prevent liner movement. This careful draining minimizes potential damage and helps maintain the integrity of the tank liner.

The next steps involve gently removing sludge and debris without using sharp tools or shovels, which could tear or puncture the liner. The internal surfaces, excluding the roof, should be cleaned with a low-pressure spray. It's a comprehensive cleaning process, and the attention to detail ensures your tank remains in prime condition, ready to perform when needed.

The tank should then be refilled as quickly as possible, ensuring the liner is correctly positioned before refilling. This critical step ensures the tank's continued effectiveness and longevity, safeguarding your property against fire.

What's more, AS1851:2012 offers an alternative to draining the tank. A diver or another underwater inspection technique may be used, subject to the tank manufacturer's warranty requirements. This means the inspection can be carried out with minimal disruption to your fire safety system.

Don't let your fire water tank become a weak link in your fire safety chain. Ensure you're adhering to the protocols laid out in AS1851:2012 for complete peace of mind. By ensuring a rigorous inspection process, you're prioritising safety, longevity, and the efficiency of your fire safety equipment. After all, it's not just a box to be ticked – it's a crucial step in fire protection. And, if you require professional assistance, don't hesitate to reach out to Firewize, your trusted partner in fire safety.

Safety: Before commencing a Tank Inspection

Catastrophic Fire Water Tank Failure

Before undertaking a fire water tank inspection, it's imperative to conduct a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) and create a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS). The JHA identifies potential hazards and risks associated with the task and outlines measures to control these hazards. It provides a systematic approach to identifying hazards and managing risks, ensuring the safety of all involved personnel.

Simultaneously, the SWMS offers a detailed explanation of how specific work tasks will be carried out safely. It outlines the types of high-risk work being done, the hazards associated with these tasks, and the control measures in place. The SWMS ensures that everyone understands the correct and safe way to proceed with the inspection.

At Firewize, we prioritise safety above all else. By meticulously following the JHA and SWMS, we ensure the safety of our team and the efficacy of our inspection and maintenance services. It's part of our commitment to delivering top-tier fire safety solutions while upholding rigorous safety standards.

Typical Inspections


  • Water Supply, Water Level & Water Level Indicator
  • Foundations & Footings
  • Corrosion, Integrity & Damage
  • Leakage
  • Accessibility, Ladder, Access Hatch, Roof & Ventilation
  • Suction Fittings
  • Tie Rods & Roof Supports
  • Confined Space Entry
  • Algae, Foreign Objects, Vermin & Debris
  • Vortex Inhibitor
  • Liner: Bulging, Cuts, Tears, Abrasions, Excessive Wear
  • Sludge Depth
  • External & Internal Inspection

Tank Inspection Innovation: The ROV

Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) for Safe Tank Inspections

In line with AS1851:2012, fire water tank inspections can also be performed using cutting-edge technology to ensure the safety and efficiency of the process.

At Firewize, we use a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) for underwater tank inspections, providing a viable alternative to draining the tank.

Our ROV comes equipped with a high-definition 4K video camera, laser measurements, and 6000 Lumen LED lamps for high visibility, even in extremely dark conditions. By deploying this advanced equipment, we can thoroughly inspect the interior of the tank without having to empty it.

This allows the tank to remain ready for use in the event of a fire, further enhancing your property's fire safety readiness.

Sludge Depth Measurement

AS1851 Test Record Checklist

Routine measurements of sludge depth, as specified in Item 2.23, can help determine the next period for draining and cleaning the tank. This helps prevent the buildup of sediment, thereby maintaining the quality of the water for firefighting purposes.

Checking Tank Base and Liner for Weak Spots

A thorough examination of the tank base and liner for weak spots is crucial, as mentioned in Item 2.34. Minor hollow areas should be underpinned, while major hollowing requires a geotechnical investigation and reassessment of the sealing system. This ensures the structural integrity of the fire water tank and prolongs its service life.

Understanding and implementing these AS1851:2012 standards for fire water tank inspections can significantly enhance the reliability of your fire protection system.

At Firewize, we provide comprehensive inspection and maintenance services to help building owners, managers, and tenants keep their properties safe from fire.

One of the core aspects that sets Firewize apart is our thorough and comprehensive reporting. We go beyond simple checklists, offering a detailed account of the condition of your fire water tank, complete with 4K Ultra HD video footage. In addition, our inspection report covers the following benefits;

  • Comprehensive 4K Ultra HD video footage provides an in-depth visual inspection of your fire water tank.
  • Snapshot images focus on potential areas of concern, pinpointing areas that might require immediate or future attention.
  • An estimation of sludge depth is provided to help you understand the level of cleanliness and sediment accumulation in your tank.
  • Detailed examination of the tank's suction line, vortex plate, and the quick-fill assembly (where fitted) to ensure optimal operation of your fire water tank.
  • We undertake thorough water quality analysis from a representative sample of water from each tank. This includes testing for:
    • pH Level – Measures the acidity or alkalinity of the water.
    • Alkalinity – Checks the water's ability to neutralize acids.
    • Hardness – Reveals the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions.
    • Metal Levels – Detects levels of Calcium, Iron, Copper, Magnesium, Aluminium, and Zinc.

This detailed approach enables Firewize to provide a comprehensive snapshot of your fire water tank's condition, arming you with the vital information necessary for maintaining your fire safety systems.

Next steps...

Your fire water tank is crucial to your fire safety systems. Don't leave its maintenance and inspection to chance. Let the experts at Firewize guide you through the process with our comprehensive "AS1851:2012 Tank Inspection Whitepaper & HOWTO Guide".

By filling in the form at the top of this article, you're taking the first step towards ensuring the safety and longevity of your fire water tank. Our guide provides invaluable insights into tank inspection, detailed reporting, and methods to maintain your tank's peak performance as per the AS1851:2012 standard.

Whether you're a seasoned professional or a building owner new to fire safety, our guide is a must-have resource. So why wait? Take action now. Fill in the form and equip yourself with the knowledge you need to keep your building and its occupants safe from fire.

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