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National Sprinkler Week signals “time to rethink fire protection” suggests Plumis

25 July 2021

FIRE SUPPRESSION solutions specialist and BAFSA member Plumis has called upon those who have championed 2021’s National Sprinkler Week campaign (which ran from 17-23 May) to take a “more forward-looking approach” to ensuring that opportunities to improve fire safety are not missed.

The most common cause of death from fire-related episodes in 2019-2020 was people being overcome by gas or smoke, which contributed to 30% of fire-related deaths during that period.

As reported by Fire Safety Matters, a recent Building Research Establishment (BRE) study has highlighted the characteristics of those who are most vulnerable to fire and the impact newer technologies could offer in improving fire prevention and the protection of residents.

The BRE’s study has identified traditional fire protection measures as providing inadequate protection for elderly and vulnerable residents. Both groups are also the most at risk from serious injury or death when it comes to domestic fires.

In the report, and as part of its 14 recommendations, the BRE has outlined several effective technical solutions including the extension of detection and suppression watermist systems to ensure that adequate fire protection is provided for all.

Automatic fire suppression systems

Electronic rather than manual activation enables modern sprinkler alternatives to suppress fires earlier and to tackle small, smouldering fires in those situations where sprinklers are less effective.

Traditional automatic fire suppression systems like sprinklers are mechanically activated, operating when affected by the heat from a fire. They’re most effective at tackling fast-growing fires as the activation temperature threshold is breached in a quick time period.

William Makant, CEO at Plumis, explained: “Like most things in life, while sprinklers are suitable for many situations, and have undoubtedly saved lives, they do have limitations. Sprinklers are most effective at tackling fast-growing fires as the temperature needed to activate them is reached quickly, minimising the time for production of smoke and toxic gas.”

He continued: “In the case of slow growing or concealed fires, it may take significantly longer for temperatures to reach this activation threshold, while hazardous volumes of toxic smoke may still be produced. In this circumstance, sprinklers offer inadequate protection for vulnerable occupants who may be in the immediate vicinity of a fire or who are unable to escape easily.”

Rethinking traditional approaches

As a business, Plumis decided to rethink the traditional sprinkler and develop Automist, the watermist automatic fire suppression systems designed to tackle changing fire challenges and improve protection for those most at risk.

Activated electronically, the system can overcome the constraints of existing sprinkler systems by operating earlier and tackling fires before they generate that amount of heat, in turn helping to reduce smoke and maintain survivable conditions.

Makant concluded: “While welcoming any measures that improve safety, we must not ignore the types of fire and occupancy where sprinklers do not perform well. National Sprinkler Week should aim to examine the whole picture, highlighting newer automatic fire suppression systems that complement the old ones such that we can truly use awareness initiatives like this to enhance fire protection and save more lives.”