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UK’s biggest housing association trials misting for fire suppression

19 November 2019 | By Will Mann

Clarion, the UK’s largest housing association, is trialling a water mist fire suppression system as an alternative to sprinklers at one of its residential developments. 

The organisation is fitting the low-pressure misting system at Fulton Court in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, an eight-storey retirement block, after running a study in June this year.

Misting systems operate in similar fashion to sprinklers, activating when temperatures reach a certain level, usually 57 degrees centigrade. The fine spray of water mist means a larger surface area of water is exposed to the flames, compared to sprinklers, which can be more effective at suppressing fires.

Clarion’s study involved construction of three typical living rooms, one with a misting suppression system, one with sprinklers and one with no suppression, and then setting fire to each of them in turn. The misting system performed well in the study, the housing association’s fire safety projects director Dan Hollas told CM.

“The misting system results in considerably less water damage and uses less than half the amount of water,” he said. “Misting technology has been used in the oil and gas sector but not as widely in domestic housing. There is some opposition from the insurance sector and the fire authorities who see sprinklers as tried and tested.”

The design and installation of water misting systems are covered by BSI standards, and there is the voluntary Fire Installers Registration and Accreditation Scheme (FIRAS) but no UKAS-accredited system.

Hollas said that Clarion is now evaluating the misting system at Fulton Court, which was installed by fire protection specialist Harmony.

“We are looking at how easy the system is to install,” he said. “Compared to sprinklers, the pipework is slightly smaller, so the installation is easier. But they are very similar systems.”

Clarion, which owns and manages 125,000 homes nationwide, had 33 fire insurance claims last year and its fire projects team have been investigating the potential of suppression systems since the Grenfell tragedy.

Perceived advantages of misting compared to sprinklers

Comments

The article says that there are no UKAS accredited water mist systems. This is an error.

There are in fact three bodies offering such accreditation, BRE, FIRAS and IFCC, Watermist systems installed in domestic and residential systems must comply with BS8458, the company undertaking the installation must be accredited (as above) and the components used in the system must comply with an appropriate standard and be listed by an accredited test laboratory.

Stewart Kidd
Chair, Watermist WG
British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association

Stewart Kidd, 19 November 2019

I wonder if the tests varied the concentration/intensity and source of the initial ignition to see whether the misting is sufficient to be assured of extinguishing all such fires. A slow smoking burn seems a different proposition to a misting solution, compared to a high intensity electrical/plastics burn,

Steve Frizell, 19 November 2019

I have been involved in getting mist system installed in commercial developments and Student Halls for a number of years, The relevant fire authorities (including Westminster Fire Brigade) have been supportive as the first objective is the saving of life over and above extinguishing the fire. They have been persuaded that mist is particularly good at smoke suppression which will aid escape.

Eric Beaven, 21 November 2019

The Impulse fire extinguishing technology has been used for over 21 years.
It has a place, being mobile and can be used to ensure protection prior to fixed mist systems being installed.
It can then transferred.
Currently in tunnels mines and prisons
Extreme locations in harms way.
Mist systems work. Impulse mist systems use little water too.

Peter McCloskey , 21 November 2019

The BS8458 test for watermist systems is a sprinkler equivalency test, it is a very demanding series of tests based on the BS8252 sprinkler test but with additional requirements such as forced ventilation and open rooms
I have been involved for over 20 years and put numerous systems through this, it’s not easy and a fully tested system certainly deserves respect and consideration

Nick Ketteridge , 24 November 2019

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