Hype or realistic alternative? The facts about water mist

Water mist is suddenly at the centre of attention again as an alternative option in fire protection. There are a few good reasons why an extinguishing system with water mist could be an alternative to e.g. a sprinkler installation. A warning should be given, though: there are disadvantages too. This is why Riskonet made a whitepaper about this topic.

24 December


Water mist is definitely not a new solution. The technology was first applied in maritime transport. The choice for water mist in this situation is highly understandable due to the primary benefit of this technology: a water mist system uses less water after activation than a traditional sprinkler system. This is an important feature in circumstances where an excess of extinguishing water can literally be a weighty factor, possibly causing the ship to capsize and sink.

There are advantages on dry land too, however. The cooling capacities of the pressurised water droplets offer people in buildings more time to evacuate. This could be an important factor in environments with vulnerable people, such as hospitals. The low water consumption also means there is less need for clean-up afterwards, and the risk of damaging valuable equipment is lower.

One size doesn’t fit all
A warning should be given, though, since we have observed that many suppliers currently strongly promote water mist as the better alternative to sprinkler systems. As if it is a one-size-fits-all solution in any situation. This is definitely not the case! There are countless situations – take, for instance, unstable environments in which circumstances and applications tend to change – that are definitely not suited for water mist. Water mist is a difficult technique to apply here, making traditional solutions the better option.

A hospital, office, residence or data centre is perfectly suitable for water mist protection, but what about the high-ceilinged entry hall the architect designed as a calling card? How to protect a paper archive or storage rooms for sheets, equipment and other materials? Make sure your judgement isn’t clouded. The advantages of water mist can become disadvantages for users in these rooms. If such rooms require a more traditional sprinkler system, the central facilities should be expanded.

Whitepaper: water mist
In order to clear up the fog surrounding this topic, we at Riskonet drafted a whitepaper about water mist. It covers the technical principle behind water mist, nozzles, the choice for a low- or high-pressure system, the effect of the size of the mist droplets on their effectiveness, and even the importance of clean water and the application of stainless-steel pipes in the system.

In short, the paper covers the facts and details that organisations and risk managers need to know to make smart decisions when it comes to the application of water mist. My advice: make sure you are well-informed on the pros and cons and do not believe everything enthusiastic salesmen tell you.

Mark van Zeijl
Consultant at Riskonet

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