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Referral Agency Advice - Guidelines

​​​​​​​​​​The Guide to the Referral of Alternative Solutions is currently under review and in the process of being updated. Any questions please contact your regional Community Safety Office.

QFES has a number of guidelines that will assist you in the Referral Agency Advice process. 

Click on the link/s below for access to the guidelines:

Fire Hydrant Systems for Buildings with Fire Compartments in Excess of 2000m2

Fire Hydrant Flows and Pressure for Different Fire Compartments on One Hydrant System

Fire Hydrant Test Drains

Hydrant and Water Supply Requirements for Developments outside the Standard QFES Response Time

Specifications for Tank Supply Points

Physical Protection of Pillar Hydrants​

Pumpset Configurations for Fire Hydrant Systems

Main Stop Valves for Residential Sprinklers Systems in Class 9c Buildings

Design of Natural Ventilation Systems

Provision of Block Plans and Location Diagrams

Adequate Fire Safety Systems in Marinas

Assessment o​f Building​ Fit-Outs​

Fire Hydrant and Vehicle Access Guidelines for Residential, Commercial and Industrial Lots

Fire Hydrant Systems for Buildings with Fire Compartments in Excess of 2000m2.

The Building Code of Australia (Part E1.3) requires fire hydrant systems to be installed in accordance with Australian Standard 2419.1 – 2005
This Standard specifies that the fire hydrant system design must meet the operational requirements of the attending fire service. 
QFES requires boosted on-site hydrants where a single street hydrant doesn’t cover a fire compartment over 2000m2 in size.
Booster systems incorporate a site-plan showing the location of all on-site hydrants.  This allows the attending fire service to most effectively deploy resources immediately.

Fire Hydrant Flows and Pressures for Different Fire Compartments on One Hydrant System

QFES interpret that when a fire hydrant system is required by the NCC, Volume One Clause E1.3 for a fire compartment contained within the same building as another fire compartment also with a required fire hydrant system and each fire compartment having different flows and pressures as required in Tables 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3, each fire hydrant system is to be treated as a separate system in relation to flows and pressures for each fire compartment.

Particular attention is drawn to the requirements for sole occupancy units in Class 2, 3 or 4 buildings where the requirements for bounding construction vary from those of a required fire wall (that is, the National Construction Code series, Volume One, Building Code of Australia prescribes an FRL of 60/60/60 or –/60/60 to construction bounding a sole occupancy unit or similar construction, while a fire wall or common wall is prescribed an FRL of 90/90/90).

Consequently, a sole occupancy unit (e.g. a Class 2 apartment or unit) with bounding construction cannot be considered to be a fire compartment for the purpose of determining the number of fire hydrants required to flow.

To add, all internal hydrants in each separate fire compartment to be used for flow and pressure testing are to have suitable test facilities for the most disadvantaged hydrant in that fire compartment as required in AS2419.1 - 2005 Section 8.5.10 Test facility.

Fire Hydrant Test Drains

QFES interpret that fire hydrant test drains form part of an above ground fire hydrant installation when connected for flow and pressure testing and therefore shall adhere to
AS 2419.1-2005, Section 8.2.1 for Above-ground pipes.

QFES Building Approval Officers are reporting an unacceptable risk from installed PVC Fire hydrant test drains under Fire hydrant flow and pressure test conditions.

Reports state that the installed PVC test drains are rupturing with great force resulting in shards of PVC pipe becoming projectiles. This interpretation is in line with QFES Zero harm policy to reduce risk of injury occurring.

Photographic evidence of two separate hydrant test drain failures can be seen below.

hydrant1.jpg hydrant2.jpg

Hydrant and Water Supply Requirements for Developments outside the Standard QFES Response Time.

The Building code of Australia (E1.3) required the installation of a fire hydrant system to serve a building having a total floor area greater than 500m2 and where a fire brigade is available to attend a building fire.  QFES interprets the words “where a fire brigade is available to attend” to refer to a situation where:

  1. A fire brigade is staffed by:
    1. QFES permanent fire-fighters, or
    2. QFES Auxiliary fire-fighters, or
    3. A combination of (i) and (ii), or
    4. Fire-fighters from a private fire service who are trained in structural fire fighting techniques and have a pumping appliance available (example – Hamilton Island), and
  2. Following fire service notification, this fire brigade can arrive at the site of the fire within:
    1. 30 minutes for class 5,6,7,8 or 9b buildings greater than 500m² and up to 1000m²; or
    2. 40 minutes for a class 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9b buildings greater than 1000m²; or
    3. 40 minutes for a class 2, 3, 9a or 9c building greater than 500m².

Where a fire hydrant system is required to be installed to serve a building with a total floor area greater than 500m2 and where a fire brigade is available to attend as determined by QFES interpretation above, then the water supply requirements for hydrant systems as specified in Australian Standards 2419.1 must be met. 

Alternatively, consideration could be given to adopting an Alternative Solution approach.

Specifications for Tank Supply Points.

When assessing future building approval applications, the following requirements are to be incorporated on all water storage tanks which QFES may be required to gain access to:

  • A hard suction point must be incorporated in the booster assembly where unassisted tank supply cannot provide the required pressures and flows equivalent to what would be required for a feed hydrant.
  • Female couplings (suction connections) must be:
    • Type: British Coventry.
    • Diameter: 125mm female coupling.
    • Thread size: 3 threads per inch.
  • This connection is to be located adjacent to the booster.
  • Where the storage tank is located below ground level the connection must be for hard suction in order not to over tax a pump primer, the maximum length of pipe work from hydrant tank to the outlet in a booster cabinet must be no more than 15 metres with a lift of no more than 4 metres.
  • The pipe should be of a type suitable to withstand pressures below atmospheric.
  • Size of suction pipe from tank must be 150mm.
  • Connection between 150mm suction pipe and 125mm connection must not narrow to less than 125mm.
  • Tank capacity must be clearly indicated and mounted to the standard prescribed by QFES Business Rule for other signs in the booster cabinet.
  • Connections to water storage tanks shall be compatible with the operational requirements of QFES pumpers and pressure requirements are as follows; - Static pressure at hard suction points shall not exceed 200kpa.

Note:  The tank suction connection point for QFES Fire Brigade pumpers shall be no more than 20 meters below the high water mark for the firefighting water storage tanks, as QFES hard suction hose is unable to withstand internal pressures greater than 200kpa

Physical Protection of Pillar Hydrants.

QFES will not accept hydrant systems mounted on, passed through or fixed to external tilt-up panel walls in non-sprinkler protected buildings. 
If external fire hydrants are to be positioned less than 10 metres from the building it protects, then they must be safeguarded by a minimum of 90/90/90 fire-resistant shielding construction, in accordance with Australian Standards 2419.1 Clause (e). 
If not already provided, QFE​S will request written confirmation from a competent person that the shielding construction achieves the required FRL from both sides and does not rely on any supporting structural elements that do not achieve at least the same FRL as the shielding construction itself.
QFES requires external hydrants to be protected by bollard/s where they may be damaged by vehicles.

Pumpset Configurations for Fire Hydrant Systems

QFES is experiencing a greater number of assessments submitted where only one pump is proposed to be fitted to the fire hydrant systems fed from break tanks and other water storage tank systems. Australian Standards 2419.1 – 2005, Section 6.2 Pumpset Configurations: indicates the number of on-site pumpsets required to achieve the hydrant flow and pressure requirements to meet the Standard.

Water Storage Tanks:

When assessing future building approval applications BAOs are to advise Building Certifiers and or Hydraulic Designers that two fire pumps are required for the fire hydrant system where water is provided solely from the water storage tank This will then fully comply with AS 2419.1, achieve specified performance and provide the safety redundancy for QFES to meet operational requirements.

Break Tanks:

Where fixed on-site pumps are installed as a requirement of connection, the water agency having control of the reticulated water supply may require that a break tank be installed. A break tank is usually an on-site tank of limited capacity which:

a) Serves to limit the effects of a fixed on-site pump drawing from a reticulated water supply; or

b) Serves to manage pressure within the fire hydrant system.

When assessing future building approval applications BAOs are to advise Building Certifiers and or Hydraulic Designers that two fire pumps are needed for the fire hydrant system to achieve AS2419.1- 2005 and meet QFES operational requirements. However QFES operational needs may be achieved through the installation of one pump which would be via an alternative building solution (ABS) proposal. Any ABS proposal should include a full capacity bypass incorporating a booster assembly. The tank infill should also incorporate an isolation valve which closes automatically in the event of a pump failure. Note: The automatic isolation valve would be placed within the system pipework to ensure all available flow and pressure is provided to the attack hydrant/s and is not diverted to the break tank in the event of pump failure. The full capacity bypass and infill closure valve will afford the safety redundancy similar to the reticulated main being connected to the inlet of the pumpset.

Main Stop Valves for Residential Sprinklers Systems in Class 9c Buildings.

Where “Booster Connections” are installed for a Residential Sprinkler System protecting an Aged Care Building (class 9c), QFES requires the Main Stop Valve to be fitted with a monitoring device which is permanently connected with a direct data link or other approved monitoring system to a fire station or fire station dispatch centre.

Design of Natural Ventilation Systems.

QFES advises that translucent sheets are not acceptable as a means of providing permanent openings at roof level in a natural smoke venting system.  QFES considers ridge vents an acceptable means of providing permanent openings at roof level.
QFES also advises that open-able roller doors are not acceptable as a means of providing permanent or readily open-able low level openings for make-up air. QFES considers permanently open ventilation grilles or slots in roller doors, or fixed open grilles in walls, to be acceptable means of providing make-up air for a natural smoke venting system.

Provision of Block Plans and Location Diagrams.

Where Block Plans are required for hydrant systems, sprinkler systems or fire detection and alarm systems, QFES requires the Block Plans to be:

  • Etched, engraved or printed on metal or plastic that is suitable for installation in an outdoor location (paper enclosed within a plastic or laminated cover is not acceptable).
  • A minimum of A3 in size.
  • Mechanically secured in the required location.
  • Correctly orientated to the building/site.
  • Compliant with all of the other requirements for a Block Plan as listed in the appropriate Australian Standard for that Special Fire Service.

Adequate Fire Safety Systems in Marinas

QFES is identified as an advice agency under the Sustainable Planning Regulations 2009, for operational work made assessable under the Act, that is:

  1. Tidal work; and
  2. Involves a marina, as defined under the Transport Operations (Marine Pollution) Regulation 2008, with more than 6 vessel berths.

Where QFES advice is sought on the assessment and inspection of fire safety systems in marinas, refer to these Guidelines.
This Guideline is based on Australian Standard 3962 – 2001: Guidelines for Design of Marinas.

​Assessment of Building Fit-Outs

Any building work or tenancy fit-outs that may impact the performance of the Special Fire Services (SFS) to the extent nominated in Schedule 8 of the Sustainable Planning Regulation 2009 should be referred to QFES.
If there is an alternative solution in place for a building that is undergoing a partial fit-out, then that part of the building must be assessed by the Building Certifier and QFES.

Fire Hydrant and Vehicle Access Guidelines for Residential, Commercial and Industrial Lots

For applications seeking development approval for material change of use or reconfiguring a lot for the purpose of building, where streets and common access ways are proposed regardless of building classification.

Where reticulated hydrant systems and vehicle access are not currently required under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA), the Building Act 1975 or Building Code of Australia (BCA) the measures in this document should be adopted.


For assistance or clarification with other guidelines please contact QFES via this email address:

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