Evaluation of firefighting water demand towards rightsizing water mains

The City of Ottawa and the National Research Council Canada are conducting a review of current methods for calculating flows needed to fight fires in urban areas, and the required number and spacing of fire hydrants. Fire flow requirements are higher in many residential areas due to the current trend towards larger structures on smaller properties, with greater exposures to adjacent structures. The sizing of local water mains is driven by two conflicting objectives:

  • Provide adequate capacity to fight fires; and
  • Minimize water main sizing to avoid excessive water age during periods of low demand.

The study will include a survey of current practices among other leading North American municipalities, and will solicit input from various professional associations. Depending on the results of a first phase of study and the level of support among collaborating municipal partners, the City of Ottawa may proceed with a second phase involving the development of an alternate approach to fire flow calculations.

We need your input! If you are interested in participating or wish to learn more about the study, please contact Rick Zaporzan at Rick.Zaporzan@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca or 613-990-7249.

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