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.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Automist prevents arson damage

Exeter City Council installed Automist from Plumis in the flat of a vulnerable resident who had already set fire to his flat 3 times. The innovative fire suppression device is designed to significantly reduce the potential for fire damage. The Council needed a reliable solution to the problem because each attempt at arson risked significant damage to property and, more significantly, potential harm to the resident and those around him. 

The Council called in Mark Evans, Director of Fire Suppress, who provide Fire Protection solutions throughout the South West and South Wales. Mark had used Automist from Plumis in the past and installed 2 units with 2 heads each to provide protection for the bedroom, lounge, hallway and kitchen in the property. 

In a recent incident the resident went on to attempt arson a fourth time and deliberately damaged the Automist heads. Nevertheless, the units were activated, effectively preventing a serious fire. Automist uses significantly less water than a traditional sprinkler system, considerably reducing consequential water damage but because the heads were sabotaged, there was some water damage. However, Exeter City Council were pleased that a fire was successfully prevented.  

Automist’s unique design means it is significantly cheaper than other automatic fire extinguishers, home fire suppression devices and residential sprinklers. Installation is neat and economical with the need for significantly less pipework and therefore disruption than a traditional sprinkler system. Nevertheless, when the Council were given the quote for installation they were concerned about the investment as they needed demonstrable proof that this ground-breaking device would do everything it claimed. Fire Suppress were able to negotiate a 3 year buy back scheme, so confident were they that Automist would perform well in the detection and control of any fire and thus provide improved protection against injury, life loss and property damage.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

New site launched: Open plan alliance

Homes with open layouts have become some of the most popular and sought-after house plans available today. An open floor plan can make your home feel larger, even if the square footage is modest. By eliminating doorways and widening the passages to dining and living areas, you obtain a sense of spaciousness that divided rooms lack. However these layouts are often at odds with fire building regulations which require compartmentation to limit the spread of fire compromising the escape route.

The Open Plan Alliance is a knowledge-centre focused on promoting information and guidance on how homeowners and architects alike, can create the layouts they desire whilst conforming with fire building regulations and keeping their homes safe.

Check it out here:

Monday, 12 August 2013

Fire Suppress Ltd use Plumis Automist to comply with Approved Document B in new build in Somerset

Plumis Automist has been installed to provide a cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing and fire regulation compliant solution for a Swedish, pine kit house.The design and location of a new build can have significant budget implications and this build is on a steep hill overlooking the Somerset Levels. To make the project viable, construction costs had to be kept to a minimum. However, Approved Document B demanded the use of fire suppression measures primarily because of the 45 metre access rule but also the open plan design with a 25 foot high ceiling! The traditional solution would have been an expensive sprinkler system but there were issues about installing and servicing sprinkler heads on the high ceiling – a servicing/stop mechanism could not be used as the heads would be inaccessible and if there was an accidental discharge it would be unstoppable.

An alternative solution was required and the end client was delighted to discover Automist from Plumis, which would provide a cost-effective, unobtrusive and more than adequate means of fire suppression. Fire Suppress Ltd, who provide Fire Protection solutions throughout the South West and South Wales were commissioned to provide the full service from specification for the Approved Inspectors to subsequent installation. Fellow Directors Chris Farr and Mark Evans recommend Automist because it meets the requirements of Approved Document B and offers design flexibility. Mark commented: “Automist offered a practical solution for this development to conform with B5 of the building regulations (access and facilities for the fire service) and was installed within one working day. Its unobtrusive features had no adverse effect on the building’s aesthetics and there are no concerns about flooding.”

Automist provides residential fire protection by means of a high pressure pump which generates a fine water mist from nozzles mounted under a standard tap, on a worktop or, as in this case, it can be wall-mounted. This innovative solution works by suppressing flames and limiting smoke and heat. It uses significantly less water than traditional sprinklers, minimising runoff and consequential water damage, a vital consideration for this new build.  Automist has been extensively tested by BRE and is also an LABC Registered Solution for loft conversions (RD171) so Mark and Chris know that it is completely reliable.

Mainpoint Install Automist in Prestigious Cheltenham Development

It is notoriously difficult to carry out any retrofit work on heritage buildings at the same time as complying with building regulations. Mainpoint Fire Protection Ltd, established in Cheltenham in 1991 faced this problem when they were asked to install fire protection in eight flats in the prestigious Oriel Road Villas development in Cheltenham. The Grade II listed buildings are typically ornate examples of regency architecture – a heritage which demanded to be safeguarded.

When Mike Fowler, Mainpoint’s MD sought approval to meet the requirements of Approved Document B he was told that fire protection such as sprinklers was required. However, in this style of building it is crucial to avoid disruption or damage to historic plasterwork and fine decoration. Therefore it was important to avoid the pipework involved in a domestic sprinkler system. Mike selected Automist from Plumis, a cost effective alternative to sprinklers, ideal for Regency buildings where it is vital to protect period features for 6 of the 8 flats. It also saves time and therefore cost, is discreet and completely effective.

Where appropriate Automist can be installed as a viable alternative to a domestic sprinkler system with installation and operational benefits. It is an innovative solution, using a high pressure pump to generate a fine water mist from nozzles, resulting in rapid and automatic fire suppression. Installation is neat and economical with the need for significantly less pipework and disruption than a traditional sprinkler system. And crucially, the fabric of the property, fixtures and fittings in the event of a discharge are not adversely affected, a significant consideration in the prestigious Oriel development.

Mike Fowler stresses that much of the success of the project is down to the use of Automist. “This project would not have gained Building Control approval without the design flexibility that Automist offers. Thanks to Automist, further heritage projects in Gloucestershire have opened up for Mainpoint.”

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Easy to retrofit fire protection utilised in HMOs

The problem of meeting HMO licensing conditions at the same time as maximising income potential and avoiding unnecessary, costly and time consuming building work for landlords can be resolved by the installation of Plumis Automist, the first active fire protection system that combines low cost and ease of retrofit with excellent aesthetics and which is intended as a less potentially damaging alternative to residential sprinklers. A HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) is a building or a part of a building that is occupied by more than two persons living as more than one household. National guidance on fire safety in residential accommodation applies nationally and adopts a risk-based approach to fire safety that will satisfy both the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The guidance and these laws apply to all landlords, but are more strictly enforced where a landlord licensing scheme is in place. All Local Authorities must run such a scheme for larger HMOs, but a number of councils have now used their powers under part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 to extend this licensing either to all landlords in a problem area, or often to all HMOs.

HMO conditions vary greatly around the country, but it some areas problem layouts are common, with escape routes passing through open plan, communal rooms such as lounge and kitchen areas, which may be situated above ground floor level. Traditionally, these buildings are required to have a thirty minute protected route allowing occupants to escape without the necessity of passing through a risk room, but installing a fire resistant partition would reduce the lettable space and hence the rental value of a property. If current arrangements are such that an open plan, escape route room does not meet this standard, an active fire suppression system should be installed. Until recently, this meant the installation of residential sprinkler systems with all their attendant drawbacks.

Automist is an ideal fire suppression system that complies with licence conditions and is a cost effective alternative to sprinkler systems. It can be installed quickly meaning minimal interference to tenants or damage to the property. There is very little visible equipment and the system provides 24 hour, 365 day protection for tenants in the event of a fire. Significantly, it allows HMO landlords to avoid compromising the design and income potential of the property. Automist uses a high pressure pump to generate a fine water mist from nozzles mounted under a standard tap or can be mounted stand alone on a work top or even a wall. Automist gives designers a number of active fire protection options to protect escape routes and aid evacuation for a fraction of the cost of a traditional sprinkler system or the installation of passive escape routes.

Automist provides viable solution for 4 storey Georgian conversion in Bridport

The necessary compliance with fire regulations in a conversion project can mean that design is compromised, costs are greatly increased and sprinklers may need to be installed with the potential for significant disruption.

The owners of a 4 storey Georgian building in Bridport with high ceilings and lots of architectural features faced these problems when they wanted to convert the property into 2 maisonettes. They asked Mark Evans, Director and owner of Firemaster of Brixham, Devon to advise on and install fire protection. However, several obstacles stood in the way of an aesthetically pleasing, cost effective solution. The means of escape from the 2nd floor meant that a protected route was required which would enable occupants to reach the 1st floor level and then pass the kitchen - which was the higher risk room - to the final exit door. Because the size of this room meant that making it smaller would render it oppressive, an open plan aspect was considered.  However, conventional application of Approved Doc B required the kitchen to be closed in due to its location on the property’s escape route. Furthermore, it was crucial that any fire suppression should be easily retrofitted as the conversion was already almost complete when the owners were advised by Building Control that they would need to install alternative measures.

There was a dilemma. In order to achieve the design and cost requirements, an innovative solution to fire suppression was needed. Fortunately, a family member who is an architect came up with a realistic solution – Automist from Plumis. Automist uses a high pressure pump to generate a fine water mist from nozzles mounted under a standard tap for effective residential fire life suppression and fulfilled all the requirements - it can be easily retrofitted, is very cost effective and does not involve the use of sprinklers.

Mark Evans commented, “Following the installation of Automist, our clients were able to fulfil their aspirations for an open plan design and feel that they have really added to the property’s safety giving them confidence and assurance and allowing them to comply with Building Regulations. Firemaster would definitely recommend Automist in situations where design, retrofit and budget considerations are paramount.”

Automist Fire Suppression for Private Development in W1

Private developers are just as demanding as local authorities and still need to meet the requirements of Approved Document B whatever the aesthetic considerations and budgetary constraints. Hammersmith’s Devonport Property Consulting were developing 5 Devonport Mews in West London and were faced with the need to install fire protection but they were not inclined to fit water sprinklers Their objections included the problem of excessive discharge of water if activated which would adversely affect the new décor and the need for pipework and wiring which would increase building costs and cause time delays.

Elite Fire safety Ltd of Dartford in Kent were commissioned to provide fire protection services at the conversion and were faced with the challenge of coming up with an alternative system that would meet the requirements of Approved Document B at the same time as satisfying the aesthetic and budgetary demands inherent in this prestigious London development. Neil Perring of Elite Fire Safety proposed the use of Plumis, Automist as the solution, which he had used in several earlier projects and readily recommended it for Devonport Mews. 

Automist is easy to install whether retrofit or new build and no dedicated water supply, storage tanks or in line pressure pumps are needed, just 1.5 bar water pressure at the pump location. Single nozzle installations including commissioning take no more than a normal working day to complete. Automist was installed in Devonport Mews on two floors with a pump unit controlling 2 nozzles per floor to provide the best possible control to the areas requiring protection, each nozzle is designed to provide up to 32 square metres of floor area with a ceiling height of 2.4 metres. The system is activated utilising a heat detector as recommended in Approved Document B, effectively eliminating nuisance alarms. Dependent upon requirements either hard wired or wireless detectors can be used. The Automist pump unit with intergrated control unit was connected to the domestic water supply and requires only 6 litres of water per minute per nozzle to provide optimum fire suppression, which in comparison to traditional sprinklers minimises runoff and consequential water damage. Furthermore, because of the low flow required installation does not require approval by Water Authorities and thus avoids related disruption and additional works.

Automist's unique design also means it is significantly cheaper than other automatic fire extinguishing systems, home fire suppression devices and residential sprinklers. It is also neat and unobtrusive and is fitted beneath a standard mono-bloc tap or stand alone on a work surface or as wall mounted unit fitting neatly into a standard switch blanking plate that can be supplied in any finish to suit décor requirements.