Fire Fighting in Canada

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Researchers looking into fire-flow calculations

Feb. 24, 2016 - A team of researchers at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is working with the City of Ottawa to understand how urban municipalities can design their water-distribution systems to adjust for increasing fire flows.

Audrey Roy-Poirier, a research officer with the NRC, said that water distribution systems may face challenges in keeping up with increasing fire flows needed by firefighters as a result of modern building materials and construction. The City of Ottawa approached the NRC with this issue.

"Essentially," Roy-Poirier said, "everyone involved, including the fire department, is coming in and saying, 'How much water do we actually need, because we want to provide enough, but we don't want to provide more than what is needed.'"

For phase 1 of the project, researchers plan to survey urban departments across Canada to find out how they calculate fire flows and determine hydrant placements. From there, the team will make recommendations for phase 2, which, if given the green light, will involve the City of Ottawa developing an alternate method for fire flow calculations.

Researchers' conclusions may be included in revisions to the Building Code of Canada and the National Fire Code expected in 2020.

To learn more and get involved, contact Rick Zaporzan at or call 613-990-7249.

February 24, 2016 
By Maria Church

Ottawa Fire Services truck pumps water from a hydrant while responding to a nearby house fire. The Ottawa-based National Research Council of Canada is looking into how urban departments calculate fire flows on scene.

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