Crude Tank Firefighting Systems Designs Project

When one of New Zealand’s leading suppliers of refined petroleum products to the domestic market was required to upgrade its foam firefighting systems to comply with national fire protection standards, GRIT was engaged to develop a fit for purpose, flexible, and economic solution. 


Located in the North Island, this industrial production and manufacturing plant processes a wide range of products imported from around the world and produces world-class clean fuels.

Although originally built in the early sixties, a major expansion and upgrade of the original plant in the mid-eighties resulted in a relatively modern industrial plant. The continual upgrading of plant and preventative maintenance ensures world-class reliability and efficiency. 

The Challenge 

Our client required a fit for purpose, flexible, and economic solution to upgrade the industrial plant’s foam firefighting systems to comply with NFPA11 – Standard for Low-, Medium-, and High-Expansion Foam (National Fire Protection Association).  

Due to the variability of the brownfields site, the system needed to be flexible and adaptable to allow it to be rolled out quickly across the many different tank compounds. 

GRIT’s Approach 

Our structural engineering team used 3D modelling to design the pipework alignment and layout, then worked with the client’s mechanical engineers, tank engineers, and asset managers to establish and minimise pipework loadings and therefore the need for large foundations and resulting excavations.  

By designing an extremely flexible system with many standardised parts, the system could be fabricated in bulk rather than from bespoke drawings. The pipework was cut, adapted, and installed on site with minimal welding or onsite coating repairs and the piping supports were adjustable to suit the varying ground surface levels of the site. 

The Outcome  

GRIT’s engineers developed a fit for purpose, flexible, and economic solution that was repeatable, quick to install, and didn’t pose any risk to the tank integrity or existing compound liners.  

The fit for purpose design of the system saved significant cost and time due to avoiding 

  1. Many excavations (often in very difficult locations) 
  2. Site measurements and bespoke design of pipe supports 
  3. Offsite pipe fabrication and difficult installation 

Ultimately, the cost of GRIT’s design was insignificant compared with the value added for the client. 

Key Highlights 

  • Accelerated the installation of a critical safety system 
  • Fit for purpose approach and collaboration with a smart team 
  • Creating a safer environment for workers and the local community 
  • Added significant value with a system the client could adopt going forward 
  • Long term gains with minimal relative cost


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