Publication - Advice and guidance

Building standards technical handbook 2019: non-domestic

The building standards technical handbooks provide guidance on achieving the standards set in the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004. This handbook applies to a building warrant submitted on or after 1 October 2019 and to building work which does not require a warrant commenced from that date.

Building standards technical handbook 2019: non-domestic
2. Fire

2.13 Fire and rescue service water supply

Mandatory Standard

Standard 2.13

Every building must be provided with a water supply for use by the fire and rescue service.

2.13.0 Introduction

Fire-fighting operations depend on a sufficient supply of water in order to control fire growth and assist in effective rescue operations.

The fire and rescue service should be provided with a water supply to assist with their fire-fighting and rescue operations. This is normally provided from public water mains through fire hydrants or alternative water supplies such as tanks or reservoirs may be provided.

In some cases, the existing water supply may be sufficient and there is no need to provide additional water supplies. Therefore, it is important to consult the fire and rescue service and water authority early in the design process to establish what water supply, if any, should be provided in order to carry out their statutory duties under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 as amended.

Conversions - in the case of conversions, as specified in regulation 4, the building as converted shall meet the requirement of this standard (regulation 12, schedule 6).

2.13.1 Water supply

Every non-domestic building should, be provided with a water supply to assist fire fighting and rescue operations from:

  • a public water supply, or

  • an alternative water supply.

2.13.2 Public water supply

An existing hydrant may be used to supply water for fire-fighting where:

  • the building has a footprint of not more than 280m2, and

  • the hydrant is located not more than 100m away from the building, and

  • no compartment has an area more than 280m2, and

  • top storey not more than 7.5m above access level.

Positioning of hydrants - a building with a footprint or compartment area of more than 280m2 should be provided with at least 1 water hydrant. However where no piped water supply is available, an alternative source of supply should be provided (clause 2.13.3).

The water hydrants should be positioned externally, for each building or where common to more than one building:

  • not more than 60m from at least one normal entrance to the building, and

  • distributed around the building so that every external elevation of the building is within 60m from a hydrant, and

  • so that hydrants are at least 6m away from the building, and

  • located adjacent to a parking space for a pumping appliance, and

  • where a parking space is provided for a fire appliance in accordance with clause 2.14.7 (fire mains), the water hydrant should be located adjacent to that parking space, and

  • so as to be accessible for use at all times, and

  • so that there is a clear route for the fire hose between the hydrant and the building, and

  • the hydrants are constructed in accordance with BS 750: 2006.

A fire hydrant should be clearly indicated by a plate, affixed nearby in a conspicuous position, in accordance with BS 3251:1976.

Performance criteria - a hydrant should be connected to a water service pipe capable of delivering water at a flow rate of at least 1500 litres per minute, provided by a water main vested in a public water authority or a supply provided under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 as amended. Alternative arrangements, including private supplies, should be agreed with the verifier and water authority, where relevant.

Whilst it is desirable to achieve 1500 litres per minute flow rate, it is accepted that the flow rates in the water mains may not achieve this. Localised areas throughout Scotland may not be supplied by mains water or, where mains water is available, the pressure and flow rates in the main may not be sufficient for fire-fighting operations. Skilled pump operators can regulate the water supplies to the fire-fighters and take care not to overdraw the mains especially where the mains pressure and flow rates are poor.

Portable pumps - in some cases, where there are insufficient water hydrants distributed around existing buildings, it is normal practice to deploy portable pumps to relay water supplies to where the water is needed. Whilst this method of water distribution is quite common, it should be avoided for new developments because of the time delay in supplying water to the fire-fighters.

2.13.3 Alternative water supply

Where no piped water supply is available, or there is insufficient pressure and flow in the water main, or an alternative arrangement is proposed, the alternative source of supply should be provided in accordance with the following recommendations:

  • a charged static water tank of at least 45,000 litres capacity, or

  • a spring, river, canal, loch or pond capable of providing or storing at least 45,000 litres of water at all times of the year, to which access, space and a hard standing are available for a pumping appliance (see clause 2.12.2), or

  • any other means of providing a water supply for fire-fighting operations considered appropriate by the fire and rescue service.