The LWF Blog
Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Water Mist Systems – Part 18July 27, 2017 9:24 am
In this blog series for those who work in Facilities Management and who have a responsibility for or interest in fire safety, we have been looking at fixed fire-fighting systems. In part 17, an overview of some of the potential uses for Water Mist Systems was given and Part 18 will continue in that vein, by considering the use of such systems in residential premises.
In recent years, the use of water mist systems in domestic and residential environments has increased. There are various possible reasons for this but three factors are most likely – space, weight and the potential absence of a water connection. In some circumstances, the authorities have accepted such installations as compensation for other areas where fire protection may be lacking. It might, for instance, be appropriate where the means of escape route is longer than it should be.
The British Research Establishment (BRE) undertook an independent study and produced a guide in 2006 named ‘An independent guide on water mist systems in residential premises’ (pdf) in which the following was concluded:
– Information about the overall effectiveness of the use of water mist systems in residential buildings for life safety applications is not yet established
– Water mist systems are an emerging technology for life-safety building applications on land, and have been successfully applied to protect assets such as equipment or machinery.
– There are (as of 2006) no relevant current standards in Britain or Europe on the components of water mist systems, or the systems themselves.
– There are standards from outside these areas, but they will require expert interpretation and further work in order to ensure they can be applicable to the UK.
– Equivalence data comparing the performance of water mist systems to other active and passive fire protection measures has not been investigated or established.
– Important information such as reliability, real fire history and long-term maintenance issues have not yet been proven.
– There are proven instances where a water mist system in residential premises has worked in an effective way and in some cases, has saved the lives of the building occupants.
In addition to looking at the ways in which a water mist system is yet unproven, the BRE document also provides a checklist for enforcing authorities to help them with judging the suitability of a water mist system for a specific application in residential buildings. As the use of such systems is likely to increase over time, it is expected that more information on effectiveness, reliability, maintenance requirements and suitability for use will be available.
In Part 19 of this series, we will continue looking at water mist systems. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.
Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.