Water Retention Tanks for Fighting Bushfires

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South Australia CFS Bushfire
Source: Stirling Country Fire Service, Mel Mazzone

Bushfires are a serious threat to many towns and suburbs in the Adelaide region. More than 75 towns in Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island are in bushfire prone areas. 35 suburbs in Adelaide’s fringes are prone to bushfires.

If you are building a new home in and around the region of Adelaide you need to be aware of whether you are in an area deemed to be prone to bushfires. If so, your local council requires you to have a dedicated source of water on the property for fire-fighting.

It is therefore important if building a new home or adding a rainwater tank to:

  1. know your council’s requirements in relation to retaining water for bushfire-fighting use
  2. know if you can use your home rainwater tank to satisfy bushfire tank requirement.

Are You In a Bushfire Protection Area?

Bushfire protection areas apply to 39 councils across South Australia. These councils are located on Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, the South-East, the Riverland, Murray Bridge, mid-North, Mt Lofty Ranges and parts of metropolitan Adelaide.

The level of bushfire risk that has been assigned to an area is rated as High, Medium or General. Each level carries with it different requirements that must be met for new properties being developed.

What Requirements Need to Be Met?

In South Australia, if your property is located in a bushfire protection area then you will need to have a dedicated water supply that the CFS (Country Fire Service) can tap into for fighting bushfires.

The Minister’s Specification SA 78 (PDF) outlines the requirements new homes must meet in a bushfire protected area:

  • Minimum storage capacity: If your bushfire risk level is General or Medium, the minimum water storage reserve is 2000 litres if connected to mains water, and 5000 litres if not connected to mains. If your bushfire risk level is High, the storage capacity on your property needs to be a minimum of 22,000 litres. In practical terms, 10,000 litres would be an adequate standalone water supply for a typical dwelling.
  • Non-combustible storage tank: Your water supply needs to be stored in a non-combustible tank if above ground, and fitted with an appropriate outlet 400mm above ground level. When filled with water and placed in the ground poly water tanks will not combust. Tests demonstrate even above ground poly tanks, while they may warp and melt above water level during an extreme bushfire passage, they often maintained structural integrity. Steel tanks tended to lose their structural integrity and leak at the seams.
  • Independently powered pumps: The pump for your fire-fighting water supply needs to have a minimum inlet diameter of 38mm and be powered by a petrol or diesel engine with a power rating of at least 3.7 kW (5hp). Alternatively, your pumping system must operate separately of mains electricity since electricity is often cut during bushfires. It must also obviously be capable of pressurising water for bushfire fighting purposes.
  • Fire-fighting hoses: Hoses for bushfire fighting must be located so that all parts of the building are in reach of the nozzle with a maximum length of 36 metres. They must always be readily available, of reinforced construction in accordance with AS 2620 or AS 1221, capable of withstanding the water supply pressure, have a minimum nominal diameter of 18mm, and contain an adjustable metal or PVC (AS 1221 certified) nozzle.

If you are looking for a bushfire water tank for your property, talk to our staff here at Team Poly. We can advise you on your requirements and recommend an appropriate tank solution to fulfil your needs.