CalAir plans to promote fire-fighting system
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA With the hot Australian summer approaching, a Sydney-based company making plastic industrial pipes and conduits is stepping up its marketing efforts for a system to protect houses against wildfires.
Sydney-based CalAir Systems Pty. Ltd. uses extrusion and injection molding to manufacture a range of polypropylene pipes under its Pro-Pipe II brand.
The pipes are color-coded, depending on their application aqua for pneumatic pipes, green for water, beige for gas, red for fire services, violet for acids and alkalines, brown for oil and black for waste.
CalAir Managing Director John McNab said the company launched its Fire-Pro external water spray system three years ago for use in houses and industrial buildings in fire-prone areas.
McNab said the system uses CalAir's red PP, halogen-free, flame-retardant pipes linked to a pump to draw water from dedicated water tanks or swimming pools.
He said the major part of the system is installed inside a building's roof cavity, where the PP pipes direct water to corrosion-resistant, zinc-free brass nozzles, mounted on the roof outside and in strategic places on exterior walls, which deliver a fine mist spray. The nozzle mounts include molded, ultraviolet-resistant low density polyethylene seals to prevent water entering the roof cavity.
McNab said the PP piping is eight times lighter than galvanized steel pipes, will not corrode internally or externally and does not require specialist labor or welding to install.
``The system is designed to combat ember attacks,'' McNab said. ``In a big bushfire, live embers can travel through the air from three or four miles away.
``Our research showed 90 percent of houses that are lost to bushfires burn down because embers land on dry plant debris that accumulates in roofs or guttering.''
He said the system can be activated manually or by heat sensors. It can also be turned on remotely by sending a text message from a cell phone.
McNab said CalAir currently sells ``three or four'' systems a year, usually for houses on rural acreage. But now the company plans to boost its marketing and distribution efforts.
``It is a bit of a different product for us. We are used to dealing with industrial applications and industrial clients, but `Joe public' needs a different approach,'' he said.
``We have just appointed a distributor covering the south coast of New South Wales and have a distributor in Toowoomba, covering southeast Queensland.''
McNab said it costs about A$20,000 (US$13,000) to have a house system fully installed by CalAir technicians, but the price could be less because the system is suitable for the do-it-yourself market.
``We use things like a 12-volt electrical system so you don't need to engage an electrician. You can do all the pipe joins easily; they all have male and female connections. You can't mismatch them,'' McNab said.
In Jan. 2003, bushfires devastated properties around the nation's capital, Canberra, causing total estimated damage of A$350 million (US$227.3 million). Four people were killed and 492 injured.