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Water supply groups in fire prevention systems: Regulations and reliability

19/10/2010

A true common market for pressure groups in fire prevention systems does not depend on Union Treaties, but rather on the unification of standards in market of each country. In this sense, the EU is not a true common market.

In the current world context, installations, constructions and industrial activities are highly regulated. Large numbers of regulations, good practice manuals, technical codes, laws and regulations are in place for all kinds of constructions and activities. However, in our society, the notion of strict regulation is more directly associated with safety systems and, even more so with equipment for fire prevention, protection and fighting. This risk (of fire) is certainly one of the most serious risks in a facility, both due to its capacity for material destruction and for the hazard it poses to people.

Rules for guaranteeing the operation of the system

The rules that regulate the operation and configuration of water-supply pressurisation groups in firefighting systems are intended to ensure that the system will work in the case of an emergency and that the necessary pressure and flow will be supplied for as long as the firefighting operations last. Few services are not regulated, and these depend on the free choice of the manufacturer when building the equipment. In fact, regulations establish the operating conditions of all the elements involved in firefighting installations: From pumps, pressure switches, configuration of control panels and valves to the ventilation required in the technical box where the equipment will be installed. In this sense, various different regulations can apply to a single pressurisation group for a firefighting system: Safety, fire prevention and firefighting standards, regulations protecting the environment, regulations on correct operation, on access to buildings, regulations on electric machines, on electromagnetic compatibility, etc. The manufacturer of the pressure equipment is responsible for faithfully following the spirit of the regulation and ensuring the quality of the product to guarantee its reliability in case of an emergency, beyond simply passing the operating tests and trials required by the regulation.

As regards in particular the rules for fire prevention and fighting, there are also different levels of requirements depending on the firefighting system that supplies the unit: systems for supplying fire hose systems, dry riser systems or automatic sprinkler systems and for supplying outdoor hydrants. The configuration of the firefighting equipment will also depend on the fire load or the intrinsic risk level of each building or facility.

Another determining factor that defines special conditions for firefighting systems is the use of the building: hospital, school, residential, garage or car park, commercial and, especially, industrial.

 

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