Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10321/5237
Title: Validity of South African design water flows for fire protection in KwaZulu-Natal rural towns
Authors: Khumalo, Mpilo Njabulo 
Keywords: Fire flow;Rural towns;Fire protection;Water distribution systems;Firefighting;South African National Standards
Issue Date: Sep-2023
Abstract: 
Fire accidents can be catastrophic, causing loss of life, property and livelihood.
Firefighting can therefore be defined as “fire suppression, search and rescue, extrication,
ventilation, salvage, overhaul and emergency medical services”. So, while numerous
methods exist to extinguish fires, the primary resource used in South Africa is potable
water supplied via water distribution systems. In South Africa, the provision of water for
firefighting is legally the responsibility of property owners. The main aim of this study was
to compute the volumes, durations, and fire flows that have been needed to extinguish
fires within a KwaZulu-Natal district municipality and compare them to the existing South
African fire flow design standards to expose any inconsistencies between the two. The
study achieved this by visiting the three fire stations within the said KwaZulu- Natal district
municipality and collecting the records available on the fire incidents that have occurred
since the establishment of each fire station. For each of the said fire stations, the study
analysed each record to ascertain the volume of water used to extinguish each fire and
estimated the time it took to extinguish the fire in order to calculate the average required
flow that was used to extinguish the fire.
The findings revealed that the study area falls under Moderate Risk 2 per the Guidelines
for Human Settlement Planning and Design (2019). It was also found that most fires occur
between the hours of 14:00 and 19:00. Most of the fires in the study were classified under
grass fires at 54%, followed by structural fires at 30%, and industrial fires accounted only
for 16%. The average amount of water required to extinguish all fires in the area was
23.677KL/day, which is only 13.15% of the 180KL/day recommended by the Guidelines
for Human Settlement Planning and Design (2019). The study also found that a Water
Distribution System (WDS) that considers fire flow was far more expensive to build than
a WDS that did not consider fire flow. Considering fire flow in the WDS increased the cost
of construction by approximately 40%.
The 40% percentage cost increase, coupled with the low volume of water required to
extinguish fires (23.677KL/day), suggests a need to reassess the figures provided by the
current South African fire flow guidelines. South African national standards and guidelines
need to be reduced, especially for rural towns where fires were extinguished with less
than 15% of the water currently recommended for storage. For a safety factor of 2, a
storage capacity of 50KL/day in place of 180KL/day was recommended for risk category
2.
Description: 
A dissertation submitted in fulfillment of the academic requirements for the degree of Master of Engineering of Civil Engineering and Geomatics, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2023.
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10321/5237
DOI: https://doi.org/10.51415/10321/5237
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Engineering and Built Environment)

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