Fire Protection in Australia (Conference Notes)

November 24th, 2007

Fire Protection Conference Perth Western Australia

Klausbruckner & Associates attended the annual FPAA Fire Australia 2007 conference in Perth, WA. The theme of this year’s conference was “Fire Protection and the Environment – Planning a Sustainable Future,” which covered green sustainable building materials and methods, and their relevance to the fire protection industry.

The presentations reflected the interests of the audience, ranging from the benefits of controlled burns and urban wildland interface fires to alternative and innovative methods of modernizing existing high-rise buildings without the need for a full building demolition.

With respect to the latter, the unique designs and solutions to existing buildings and green/energy efficient buildings brings forth new sets of fire protection obstacles which must be resolved using new technology. Technologies such as fire curtains and smoke curtains have been used to resolve existing problems and new architectural features that would not otherwise be allowed in a purely prescriptive code application.

As an American-based company, we benefited from reviewing some of the new technology, which is more prevalent in countries such as Australia. Performance based codes have been utilized for several years and are also the only adopted codes within Australia. Each set of codes and experiences in these codes brings new sets of experience and benefits to the table.

Presentation Video

Featured Video Presentation – Climate Change, High Hazards & Environmental Impacts – The Insurance View by Andre Mierzwa. In this slide show (no sound) Andre Mierzwa (FM Global) reviews some of the key issues the insurance industry is facing in the near future.

Focus is given on the consequences of climate change and the resulting rise in sea levels, extreme weather, water conservation and the environmental impact of fire losses involving high hazard facilities.

Some of the major recent fires are reviewed, such as the Sandoz Switzerland chemical plant fire, the 2007 Sherwin-Williams warehouse fire involving 5,700,000 litres of paint and paint products, the Buncefield oil depot fire, and others.

Specific fire protection issues and challenges are presented and ways of addressing them including maintaining water based active fire protection in years of water shortages ahead and typical fire hazards of green energy sources, such as desalination plants and wind farms.

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