Welcome to the Plumis fire protection blog. Stay informed about domestic fire safety, fire building regulations and ADB-compliant solutions for open plan living. Please feel free to browse through the posts and comment about what you read.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Automist Smartscan steals the show at the 16th Annual International Water Mist Conference

William Makant of Plumis presented the company's new Automist Smartscan technology to a packed and captivated audience at the 16th Annual International Water Mist Conference, held in Vienna September 21-22, 2016, organized by the International Water Mist Association (IWMA).

He presented the story behind the evolution of the James Dyson award-winning Automist®, Automist Smartscan which relocates the traditional spray heads from the ceiling to a wall mounted nozzle, and uses a rotating head that directly targets fires with a powerful jet of water mist. It has been proven to achieve the same performance as residential sprinkler systems and typically uses 90% less water, minimising the potential for water damage to the living space.

Automist Smartscan has risen in popularity among architects and builders for being super easy to retrofit—without requiring a tank or network of pipes. It offers more than a reliable safety device for fighting fires; it’s an intelligent modern design feature offering greater flexibility for projects with challenging building regulations, from loft conversions to more open-plan homes and flats.

The UK has published its first standard for residential water-mist systems BS 8458:2015 which has similarities to UL 2167 and FM 5560 tests, like using a 8m x 4m x 2.5m room and 2.5MW peak HRR 2-foam, crib, heptane pool and plywood wall fire load.  However, the standard has additional testing scenarios such as forced ventilation (to simulate a wind draught) and an “open room” arrangement.  A total of 82 full scale fire tests were carried out at Exova Warringtonfire against this standard test to validate a series of design proposals intended to meet the performance requirements of this standard. 

These included:

- Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and the use of a horizontal planar water-mist blade in an attempt to maximise water density at the base of the fire and away from the ceiling hot layer.
- the use of passive dosing of a surfactant additive to maximise the suppression performance of the deployed water-mist
- the use of alternative detection sensors to reduce time for activation of suppression system
- directional targeting of water-mist to the fire location using a moving spray head and an infra-red sensor to maximise water density where the fire is located.

The key findings were that with small residential fires (the suppression system was activated with fires HRR between 100kW and 600kW), water mist does not operate according to its traditional principle of being drawn into the fire because the small heat release causes less evaporation and creates smaller gas flow velocities in the room.  Additionally, it was noted that some of the BS 8458 objectives, of testing droplet drift through forced ventilation, for example, impacts negatively the performance of traditional sprinklers as much as water mist.  It was concluded that an alternative suppression technique, of creating a turbulent, localised, mist saturated environment was necessary in order to successfully suppress such small fires. 

The event organizer, the International Water Mist Association, is a global association dedicated to water mist firefighting and related technologies, and the Conference drew a crowd of 100 fire safety and water mist industry leaders.

The Automist Smartscan presentation was given a special mention by the Chairman Ragnar Wighus who confirmed the admission of Automist to the exclusive "Archimedes Club" for wise use of watermist technology.  Plumis were honoured with the mention. 

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Watermist enabling open plan design

Watermist systems installed in buildings can reduce the fire risk to life.  It can also significantly reduce the degree of damage caused by fire and provide property protection.

Watermist fire suppression systems have demonstrated their value in assisting the protection of life and property in industrial and commercial applications for many years. A mist system operates at an earlier stage in the development of a fire when compared to sprinklers and in many cases are more practical to install, especially in small buildings. Sprinklers can also cause significant water damage when activated, which is minimised when compared to mist.

In my opinion, with the recognition that the largest number of fire related deaths occur in the home, the introduction of a standardised domestic watermist fire suppression systems marks a significant move in the right direction for the fire safety industry.

British Standard (BSI standard “BS 8458:201) compliant watermist systems protection can be used in order to reduce the fire risk, and as a compensatory feature where the provisions of fire safety guidance are deviated from in some way.

Automist Smartscan in a open plan kitchen
For example, where a new habitable storey is to be added by converting the loft, and/or creating “open plan” at ground floor, the provisions for escape need to be considered throughout the full extent of the escape route. In many cases, to be compliant with the guidance, a stairway needs to be fire protected to provide safe escape route for occupants from upper floors. Alternatively, it may be possible to provide mist protection to the open-plan area, in conjunction with fire-resisting partition; fire curtain, fire doors or additional ventilation equipment. This will allow the occupants of the loft room to access an escape window at first floor level in the event of a fire in the open-plan area. There may also be cases where this partition can be avoided and a bespoke fire engineered solution can be developed negating this requirement.  This is subject to a case by case assessment of the project by a qualified fire engineer and the associated risk assessment followed by building control approval of the strategy.

Therefore, as part of the overall fire strategy for a project, a mist system can be a valuable asset with benefits of reduced risk to life safety, design flexibility and non-invasive installation. From a fire engineering standpoint, I believe the move towards mist systems to be a highly positive one. While sprinklers may still be appropriate for larger buildings and property protection applications, mist systems appear to be a better fit for small or domestic developments.

Content provided by Paul Yeomans of Fire-Q


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Tuesday, 11 October 2016


Automist Smartscan has been awarded the Build It Awards 2016 - Best Home Technology Product, in association with BuildStore.

The Build It Awards, in association with BuildStore, celebrate all aspects of self build and renovation, including completed projects, services and suppliers. The awards bring together architects, manufacturers and key industry figures in recognition of innovation and excellence in the custom home sector.