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Emergency Water Supplies

Mains size, flow and spacing requirements

Building Regulations and other Acts, including local Acts, may have required firefighting equipment and other facilities to be provided for the safety of people in the building and to help firefighters. Fire safety law places a duty on you to maintain such facilities in good working order and at all times.

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Caravan sites - caravans/chalets

A fire hydrant should be located at the entrance to the site and if necessary, at 300 metre intervals.  The hydrant should provide a minimum of 8 l/sec (480 l/min). 

If no piped water supply is available or where there is insufficient pressure or flow in the water main an alternative source must be provided.

Dwelling houses

Minimum mains size 100mm and spacing of hydrants not more than 180-210 metres apart.

Minimum of 8 l/sec (480 l/min) for detached or semidetached of not more than two floors up to 35 l/sec (2100 l/min) for units of more than two floors, from any single hydrant on the development.

Education, health and community facilities

  • Village halls - minimum of 15 l/sec (900 l/min) through any single hydrant on the development or within a vehicular distance of 100 metres from the complex.
  • Primary schools and single storey health centres - minimum of 20 l/sec (1200l/min) through any single hydrant on the development or within a vehicular distance of 70 metres of the complex.
  • Secondary schools, colleges, large health centres and community facilities - minimum of 35 l/sec (2100 l/min) through any single hydrant on the development or within a vehicular distance of 70 metres from the complex.

Industry (industrial estates)

It is recommended that the water supply infrastructure should provide as follows with the mains network on site normally being at least 150mm nominal diameter and spacing not more than 60-90 metres apart:

  • Up to one hectare minimum of 20 l/sec (1200 l/min)
  • One to two hectares minimum of 35 l/sec (2100 l/min)
  • Two to three hectares minimum of 50 l/sec (3000 l/min)
  • Over three hectares minimum of 75 l/sec (4500 l/min)

Note: High risk areas may require greater flow rates and spacing not more than 60 metres apart.

Shopping, offices, recreation and tourism

Minimum of 20 l/sec (1200 l/min) to 75 l/sec (4500 l/min) depending on the nature and extent of the development.


Minimum of 25 l/sec (1500 l/min) for lorry/coach parks, multi-storey car parks and service stations from any hydrant on the development or within a vehicular distance of 90 metres from the complex.

Sites that cannot meet the requirements

Where no piped water supply is available, or there is insufficient pressure and flow in the water mains, 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 litre capacity; or
  • A spring, river, canal 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; or
  • Any other means of providing a water supply for firefighting operations considered appropriate by the fire and rescue authority.

Fire hydrant requirements

Underground fire hydrants, surface box frames and covers must comply with the specifications set out in British Standards BS 750:2012 and:

  • Hydrants should be sited in pavements wherever possible.
  • The screwed outlet of the hydrant shall be made of METAL in accordance with the laid down British Standards.

Indicator plates for fire hydrants and emergency water supplies must comply with BS 3251: 1976, and shall be fixed in accordance with Appendix ‘A’ of BS 3251: 1976 to a purpose made concrete post which should be conspicuously sited facing and as close to the hydrant as practicable.  These indicator posts shall have an all over durable finish conforming to colour reference no.309 (canary yellow) in BS 381C. 

In exceptional circumstances where it is not possible to site an indicator post, then the indicator plate should be fixed in accordance with Appendix ‘A’ of BS 3251: 1976 to a nearby wall at a height of not more than 1.2 metres or less than 0.6 metres from ground level.

About this gudiance

These observations are offered for guidance.  It is important that the Water Company and the Chief Fire Officer should be consulted at the design stage in respect of each scheme, especially with regard to the position of any private hydrants within the site area. 

Developers should hold joint discussions with South West Water or the Environment Agency and the Fire Authority to ensure that adequate water supplies are available in case of fire.

The Fire Authority reserve the right to ask for static water supplies for firefighting on site as a condition of planning consent, if the supply infrastructure is inadequate for any given risk.

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