ICN Victoria connects Aussie manufacturers to Gippsland bushfire sprinkler systems

With the increasing and always imminent threat of bushfires confronting our communities, a new Australian designed and made invention to protect property has come onto the market.

The Platypus Sprinkler system is the brainchild of Jamie Boyles of Platypus Fire Pty Ltd based in Gippsland, an area prone to bushfires.

Jamie is especially pleased that his product is majority Australian designed and manufactured, which occurred thanks to support from the Industry Capability Network’s Gippsland office.

Jamie needed to develop a sprinkler head that was highly fire resistant and the ICN, through its network, was able to find a manufacturer with the appropriate capability and skills. After ICN sourced a number of local companies that had the relevant capability, Advantage Engineering in Braeside, Melbourne, was selected and has worked with Jamie to develop a sprinkler head made from glass reinforced nylon with a flame retardant and UV additive.

The one piece body and shaft along with the nozzle (in 3 sizes) are all 316 stainless steel, and are being manufactured by Dennis Jones Engineering in Morwell.

For Jamie, Australian-made is important. “When we are working with an item for bushfire protection, it is important that the people involved understand what that means,” Jamie says. “I found that working with people here we could discuss a fire situation and they understand it and understand we are looking for. The ICN certainly made that much easier for me by finding the right people.”

The end result is a product designed to protect houses, outlying buildings and commercial buildings, as well as having an application for industries that run conveyor systems, such as the timber industry. Another outlet is for smaller scale irrigation, especially for those that want to maximise water use.

Jamie is already talking to a number of builders about using the system when constructing homes in fire prone areas.

The Platypus Sprinkler has a number of advantages.

Firstly it can operate at water pressures from as low as 50 kpa.  In a fire situation when demand from a water main is high and pressure is low, this means the Platypus can still operate. When operating from a tank and pump the efficient water use and optimum operating pressure of 250kpa can often mean a smaller pump can run the system, so there are cost savings in both capital outlay and running costs.

It’s also designed so that the water is sprayed out and down with a lower profile, rather than spray water too high where winds can dissipate it away from where it is needed. 

With three nozzle sizes 2.5mm, 3.2mm and 4mm, the system is adaptable to different buildings and situations depending on the use and levels of risk. At around 350 kpa, the large nozzle delivers nearly 15 litres of water per minute in a circular pattern equal to an eight square metre area.

As Jamie says, most people recognise that about 25 mm of rain, or an inch in the old scale, is often what is needed to effectively put out most bushfires.

“The platypus system can deliver the equivalent of around 20 to 36mm per hour depending on nozzle size, so people can understand that will really help in a bushfire situation and when defending against ember attack,” he added.