The introduction to watermist

Watermist, being small droplets of water, has been around for many years. The earliest watermist patent is traced back to the 19th century, however from a commercial perspective watermist did not become known before innovative thinking in Scandinavia was combined with an environmental friendly law, and a fatal fire on a ship.

Several fatal accidents with CO2 systems in engine rooms on ships increased the use of Halon systems, however with the implementation of the “Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the ozone Layer” in 1989; the maritime industry needed a new technology to replace Halon – the answer was Watermist using only pure water, and this soon after became the market standard within enclosure / machinery space fire protection.

In 1990 a deadly fire on the “Scandinavian Star” ship occurred and this showed that there was a need for better fire safety requirements and new fire protection technology onboard ships. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) had regulations and requirements for sprinklers onboard ships but the latest revision was from 1974 and therefore lacked the subsequent advantages that had been made in the sprinkler technology. As updated technology was needed, a sub-committee was instructed to develop guidelines for equivalent sprinkler systems and in 1995 this work was conducted and put into an IMO Resolution. With this resolution in place it did not take long before automatic watermist systems became the market standard onboard ships in areas normally protected with sprinklers.

From maritime to land protection

Throughout the 90´s and 00´s watermist gained almost 100% market share onboard ships since it was perfectly suited for maritime applications and gave a lot of advantages to the maritime industry. This lead to that more companies began to develop and produce watermist, and this lead to that more innovation arrived within the industry. With the market being squeezed with new players and new technology within the watermist industry, the natural next step was to begin to promote and sell watermist onshore.

Approval based technology

 

Since there were no land standards and codes for watermist, the early introduction of watermist on land was made with maritime approvals and demonstration tests which led to a mistrust of the technology in the fire protection industry. This mistrust is today gone most places since land standards and codes are available proving that watermist can do the same as many other technologies.

 

Today FM, UL, VDS and other such notifying bodies have approval programs for watermist, and can therefore approve / list watermist just as they approved sprinklers, foam and gas systems. The first standards and codes differentiated watermist systems depending on the system droplet size thinking that droplet size and the firefighting performance was correlated.

 

The oldest NFPA 750 code even classified the systems into categories depending on droplet size. This however is not valid anymore since it is found that droplet size alone does not determine the effectiveness of a watermist system – the watermist industry today is 100% approval based which means that approved watermist systems independent of pressure, droplet size, design etc. can be used.