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Friday, 28 September 2012

Best value HMO retrofit water mist suppression

Automist was installed by Quench Fire as a key part of an alternative fire protection scheme to protect the escape route through a first floor, open plan, communal lounge and kitchen area in a Oxford City HMO.

Lyndworth Mews is a block of 16 three storey town houses in Headington, Oxford, several of these properties are rented to students as a HMO property. A typical HMO in this block is two bedrooms and a bathroom on the ground floor, a communal lounge diner and kitchen on the first floor and two further bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor accessed from the lounge below.

At the end of August 2011 Quenchfire were contacted by an HMO Landlord from Lyndworth Mews looking to install a misting system to the lounge dining area of his properties.

This course of action had been brought about as a result of Oxford City Council extending HMO licensing to all HMO properties in the Oxford area. The licences are issued under part 2 of the housing act 2004 additional licensing. Previously additional licensing or selected licensing needed central government approval but in 2010 this requirement was removed. Oxford currently licence all HMO properties on a yearly basis.

The licence conditions clearly stated that:
“The building is required to have a thirty minute protected route allowing the occupants to escape without the necessity of passing through a risk room. In the current arrangement the open plan first floor lounge area does not meet this standard. In lieu of an enclosed 30 minute fire escape route, install an active water based fire protection system.

The system design is to be a Total Compartment Application Scheme designed to discharge water mist to protect the first floor lounge area in entirety. In the event of a fire the system must be capable of automatic detection and activation via a linked heat alarm or via a heat sensitive break glass sensor. The system can either be connected to the mains water supply (subject to satisfactory pressure), or can be self contained in an adequately sized water storage vessel.

Where an alternative scheme can achieve the same objective, for example, if the preferred option is to construct a fire resistant partition, the case officer should be notified in order that a suitable alternative can be agreed.”

The licence also covers upgrading of smoke and heat alarms as well as fire doors and closers.

David Moyce, Managing Director of Quenchfire Ltd proposed that a Plumis – Automist Fire suppression system was installed in the property to comply with the licence conditions. This could be achieved by mounting the Pluvia pump set in the kitchen under the sink and the wall nozzle could be located on the lounge dining room stud partition wall, activated by a heat alarm. And they were awarded the contract to install the Automist system in both properties.

The landlord said, “Installing Automist was the obvious solution to my problem; installing a fire resistant partition would have reduced the lettable space and reduced the rental value of the properties.

The Automist system was installed quickly with minimal interference to my tenants or damage to the property. There is very little visible equipment and the system provides 24 hour 365 day protection for my tenants in the event of a fire.”

The landlord is a chartered surveyor and multiple PRS investor and expert in the sector. As a result of this project Quenchfire Ltd have installed Automist active fire protection systems to a further 6 properties in Lyndworth Mews as well as various other HMO properties in the Oxford area. And there is significant interest from other licensing authorities in Automist as a solution to improved fire safety in HMO properties.

For further information on this project or the Plumis Automist range of water-mist suppression solutions call Plumis on +44 (0) 20 7871 3899, visit or email

Shropshire Housing extends fire safety to communal areas with Aico RadioLink

Shropshire Housing Group has made the decision to install Aico’s RadioLINK wireless interconnect fire detection system into HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and smaller blocks of flats to allow for alarm interconnection between communal areas and individual dwellings.

The system provides a high level of tenant safety at an affordable price, especially when compared to panel-based alternatives.

The decision to extend coverage to communal areas followed a detailed Risk Assessment carried out by the housing association across its 5000 properties.  Total Response, responsible for Shropshire Housing Group’s repairs and maintenance, recommended Aico’s RadioLINK system as a cost-effective solution.

RadioLINK works by allowing Aico mains powered Smoke, Heat and Multi-Sensor alarms to be wirelessly interconnected by Radio Frequency (RF) signals, rather than cabling.  If one alarm on the system is triggered, RF signals cause every other alarm on that system to sound, providing the earliest warning to the occupants.  

In the case of Shropshire Housing Group’s blocks of flats and HMOs, RadioLINK has been cleverly used to extend the existing system.  An Aico mains powered heat alarm is being fitted just inside each flat wirelessly interconnected to an Aico Ionisation alarm in the communal area using RadioLINK.  These alarms are then ‘House Coded’ together.  As the Heat Alarm will only trigger at 58°C and above, normal cooking fumes will not trigger it so other residents will be unaffected.  However, if a real fire has occurred, the heat alarm in the dwelling will operate the communal system – and all heat alarms inside the other dwellings – when sufficient heat has been generated.

In addition, the alarms have been interlinked to Aico Manual Call Points and a wall mounted Control Switch which allows the user to easily Test, Silence and Locate alarms from one convenient location. 

43 communal areas have been identified by Shropshire Housing for the RadioLINK system so far, with each property containing two to nine flats. 

Dale Vass, Senior Electrician for Total Response who specified the Aico RadioLINK solution, explains his decision: “We use Aico alarms across most of the Group’s properties.  We picked RadioLINK because we like Aico products and also because it provides us with a consistent and convenient solution.”

Dale and his colleagues at Total Response have recently completed the Aico Fire Products Trained Installer Scheme (AFPTIS) for best practice.  AFPTIS has been running for a number of years now and is dedicated to providing contractors with the information and training necessary to achieve a successful and effective smoke alarm installation.  

A wholly owned subsidiary of Ei Electronics, Aico is the first name in residential fire protection in the UK.  Aico fire alarms are designed and built in Europe specifically to meet the UK standards and regulations.  For more information please visit

Source - means of escape