In response to the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, the Rudd Government designed an economic stimulus package which included Building the Education Revolution (BER). The program was designed to provide new and refurbished infrastructure to eligible Australian schools, which included schools in fire prone areas.
The program was rolled out quickly and in keeping with environmental objectives, natural and hybrid ventilation was specified for many schools. This placed considerable pressure on ventilation manufacturers who had not planned for a massive increase in demand.
Ventilation companies supplying to schools in bush fire prone areas also had to develop a ventilator that would meet bush fire attack levels up to BAL 40 – BAL being a classification standard of bush fire intensity levels that a building may experience.
CSR Edmonds Export Manager Allan Ramsay explains that Edmonds moved to meet this demand with an innovative solution.
“We built the Hurricane Bush Fire Rated (BFR) off the original design of our Hurricane ventilator, adjusting the design to meet the requirements of the standard in high bushfire alert areas,” he explains.
“Our engineers had to remove any plastic from the design and ensure that everything inside the ventilator was metal and non-combustible to meet the conditions of BAL 40. They replaced the plastic bearing holder with a metallic heat sink inspired by our SureDraft design.”
The new Hurricane BFR also included a stainless steel ember guard mesh in the throat of the ventilator with a mesh size of less than 2mms to meet the requirements under AS 3959. The unit was developed in two throat sizes, 300mm and 400mm, with 400mm the most commonly needed.
Edmonds had to react immediately, developing this bush fire rated design in under 48 hours.
“We had little warning that the BER was coming and even less knowledge about the demand level for our ventilators. We weren’t fully prepared and suddenly had to vastly increase our production rates for all of our industrial ventilators for schools. For those schools in bush fire prone areas we had to come up with a solution very quickly and we did,” Allan says.
The demand for a bush fire rated vent was high in bush fire prone areas in NSW, especially around Newcastle, Nelsons Bay, and the Hunter Valley. Other facilities such as railway station buildings, rural bushfire sheds, and homes in BAL areas have been fitted out with the Hurricane BFR, and continue to be today.
Additionally, the Edmonds Hurricane BFR is a vertical vane ventilator compared to the ‘onion’ shape of competitors. “Independent research has found that the vertical shape gives the Hurricane superior airflow,” says Allan.
“Edmonds also chooses aluminium as the main material which is lighter than the stainless steel of some brands, a major advantage as it allows the ventilator to respond more easily to wind strength,” Allan added.
The Edmonds Hurricane Bush Fire Rated ventilator is designed to meet the tough climatic conditions and operating environments of bush fire prone areas and is tested to Australian Standards AS4740. Find out more about Hurricane BFR here.