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.