We have had a verbal 'tick of approval' from our fire engineer with the solutions Atomic 6 have been working on. See link the main PDF page that relates to this. I want to explain more about what we have set out to do, but please understand I am not an expert on fire or bushfires and don't pretend to be. This is just to share some of my findings based on consultation from professionals, talking with those who saw these fires first hand and some logic.
The intent of this process was not to satisfy a BAL rating, or to make sure that a house is not fully destroyed after a bushfire, but to (attempt) to have the house be completely operational once safe to return.
Every level of the BAL concentrates on fire. Stopping or preventing flames from entering the house and burning down. This is a good start, but most of the people I have met they have or want solar, batteries, water tanks etc.
At the peak of the bushfire where fireballs are seeking oxygen and rolling into a fierce blaze, temps can reach 2,000degC or more. This will destroy your solar, explode your Li-Ion batteries and melt most tanks that are not filled.
glass (solar) melts at 1,600degC
aluminium (window frames) melt at 660degC
So our goal is to reduce this heat down to something more manageable. Anything under 1,000degC is much easier to address. Once the initial devastation has passed (anything from 15mins to 2 hours) what remains is a typical severe fire which will have heat ranging from 600degC to 800degC, reducing over time.
So we have adopted a 2 part process:
1 - Materials - have all materials incorporated in the construction be
high Tg (melting point)
2 - Sprinkler System - unlike most sprinkler systems on the market which seek to extinguish flame, our system is all about creating a water barrier of mist / spray which acts like an evaporative cooler and will reduce the heat. This will surround the house including any batteries.
We are now making agreements with manufacturers for steel windows / doors (in lieu of aluminium windows / doors). This is not a simple process as the end result still needs to look nice. Everything else has a high melting point - as a datum we have set the temp at 1,400degC which is the low end for glass.
All cladding needs to be placed (fixed) over a fireproof substrate, Atomic 6 have our own, but for others out there who will use other builders, we can let you know of many options that can be easily purchased. In fact, any other builders or designers who would like to use our resources or investigations to help improve their system, happy to share and put you into contact with our consultants so they can help others. We are NOT selling this system or seeking to do this work for others - but happy to share information. There are already sprinkler companies around who only need to tweak what and why to their own products.
Atomic 6 sprinkler systems will be built inside the walls to further protect the infrastructure and connected to an automatic trigger based on heat.
One thing we have learnt is the sprinkler system generally worked in previous fires for stopping flame, however the owners would normally turn on the system then evacuate well before the fire arrives. This uses up the water and often depletes the water before it is needed. Our automated system aims to combat this (we started work on this today - will be easy enough).
Our pump will be driven by its own battery storage (plus whatever solar is available through thick smoke) which means in the event of mains power failure (very common) we are self-sufficient. Our system is only designed to operate for 2.5 hours at the peak of a fire. After that house will be OK.
We are currently getting advice and (hoping) some sort of letter of compliance stating that using these methods will meet BAL-FZ and thus can be used in pretty much every situation.
Happy for this to be shared to others; once again, I am no expert on this and not intending to replace any BAL regulations or local fire authority directions. This method will be used for all our houses where client and location require it.