The importance of accreditation in fuel design
The relatively recent boom in service station developments nation-wide has seen a proliferation of consultants offering fuel design. More recently however, we have seen an increase in clients recognising the importance of accredited fuel design and requesting our services to provide this design and accreditation. In this industry note, we focus on the importance of accreditation in fuel design.
What accreditation is required in fuel design?
At a minimum, fuel design, even for suburban service station developments, should be reviewed and signed by a full member of the Australasian Institute of Dangerous Goods Consultants (AIDGC). Only full member consultants (not associate members) of the AIDGC are accredited and have demonstrated their competence by completing and passing an independently supervised comprehensive written exam. A list of AIDGC member consultants can be found on the internet at http://aidgc.org.au/consultants/.
In Queensland it is a legal requirement for all design work to be performed by or under the direct supervision of a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ). Hence for a facility located in Queensland it is recommended to use an AIDGC member consultant who is also an RPEQ registered mechanical or chemical engineer. It is easy to search the register by name or company at www.bpeq.qld.gov.au.
How did accreditation standards slip?
Historically, oil companies owned and operated their own portfolio of service stations and had the required engineering resources internally to both design and accredit their fuel design.
Over twenty years ago, when oil companies started to shift away from managing large-scale internal design capability, design / engineering consultants such as TfA provided the appropriate design and accreditation.
More recently, as the development of service stations have become more developer-led, integrated within larger multi-tenanted retail developments and with many following a design and construct delivery model, accreditation in the fuel design has often been overlooked.
Several fuel installation contractors who TfA spoke with, were both concerned about the quality of fuel designs circulating within the construction space and the non-commitment of the designer to sign-off or warrant the design.
There are two factors often at play here:
- The developer / fuel designer’s client often does not want to pay for the full fuel design service and will put the onus on the fuel installer “to make it work”; and
- Fuel “designers” are completing layout designs without knowing the hydraulic performance of the overall system and thus are not able to warrant the system design (eg. large suction system runs, sizing of manifolded vent lines, calculation of PV vent arrangements etc).
As a result, TFA are often asked to review and sign-off on work by others as the fuel installers have little to no confidence in the original design and wish to get expert review before continuing install work / commencing installation of linework to tanks.
Why accreditation is important
A compliant and accredited design not only assists in meeting obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in the event of an on-site incident / site audit but also with due diligence during the sale of a service station site.
This was reinforced last month at the 2017 ACAPMA conference in Melbourne which TfA attended. Day One saw an open forum discussion on Vapour Recovery and the effects (and consequences) of poor system design and specification. It was quoted that there were four known incidents regarding fuel system/tank failure due to poor vapour recovery system installation and maintenance. The general consensus was if you are in doubt, consult an experienced consultant, installation contractor and/or equipment manufacture for advice on what to do.
We have seen a recent increase in general industry recognition in relation to the importance of accredited fuel design. With over 20 years in both fuel system design and the related site layout design of service stations, TfA offers a level of national experience and accreditation which we believe sets us apart from other consultants.
Any queries in relation to fuel design, please contact our engineering manager, Keith Sharp, who would be happy to discuss further.