• Automist kitchen protection

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains answers to commonly-asked questions about Automist.
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1. What's the point of Automist?
2. How is Automist triggered?
3. Will the system suffer from false alarms?
4. How does water mist work?
5. Can you use Automist on a chip pan fire?
6. What happens during activation?
7. What can my building control officer approve?
8. Does Automist Smartscan have a permanent blue light behind the "letterbox" of the spray head?
9. What maintenance is required?
10. How does water mist work?
11. How big a problem are fires in the kitchen?
12. How do costs and other features compare with other types of domestic fire protection?
13. Can I integrate Automist with an existing alarm system?
14. What does Automist offer landlords and social housing organisations?
15. Does Automist comply with the Water Regulations?
16. Will Automist Fixed Tap Head fit with my tap?
17. What is the maximum room size a single Automist unit can protect?

Suitability and Standards Questions

18. What type of hazards has Automist been tested against?
19. How can I be sure that key factors like nozzle spacing, flow and pressure, compartmentation and ventilation are similar to what was tested?
20. Does Automist comply with BS 8458 or BS 9251/9252?
21. Does Automist comply with BS 8489?
22. What standard is Automist certified to?
23. What precautions have been taken to ensure robustness to low mains pressure?
24. How much space does the Automist base unit (pump) require around it?
25. What precautions have been taken to prevent nozzle blocking over time?
26. What is an LABC Registered Detail?
27. Do I really need a fire door between ground and first floor?
28. What precautions have been taken to prevent obstructions from blocking the spray?
29. How can I be sure Plumis are a reputable manufacturer?


 

What's the point of Automist?

Automist is an family of innovative alternatives to fire sprinklers, designed to help homes comply with regulations: most commonly the fire section of the building regulations, often in open plan layouts. Fitting Automist allows you to create a more attractive, practical and valuable home. Alternatives to sprinklers like Automist are permitted under Building Regulations as long as they have been tested and shown to be fit for purpose. A similar set of requirements exists for the Fire Safety Order and the Housing Act, which are laws that apply to landlords. Automist's most recent testing was conducted by Exova Warringtonfire. Test reports directly comparing Automist to residential sprinkler standards are publicly available.

Why Automist? - Product Information for Building Control and Architects [720 Kb]

How is Automist triggered?

Automist is triggered by an industry standard 57°C heat alarm. Heat alarms can either be mains or battery powered and must have a relay output either via a wireless or wired connection. The relay should include Normally Open, Normally Closed and Common terminals (a relay without Normally Closed can be accommodated with a modification by Plumis). Example heat alarms can be found here. Alarm panels may be used provided that they offer a suitable relay output.

Will the system suffer from false alarms?

A correctly installed heat alarm will reliably trigger Automist and should supplement household existing smoke alarms which can provide an additional warning of fire. Heat alarms give an audible warning when the temperature at the alarm reaches 57°C and, unlike conventional smoke alarms, will not be triggered by burning the toast, steam from cooking, or a car's exhaust fumes.

How does water mist work?

When water is driven through a specialised nozzle at very high pressures (in Automist's case around 80 bar), the water is atomised to produce a fine mist or fog. Water mist removes heat from the fire and displaces oxygen from the fire zone, resulting in fire control, suppression or extinguishment. The intention is to reduce the oxygen concentration around the flame, lower the temperature and lessen the radiative heat to such an extent that combustion can no longer be maintained, thus reducing damage and maintaining survivable conditions.

Traditional sprinklers mount on the ceiling, as a result, the water droplets have to flow (with gravity & momentum down) against the fire & smoke to reach the fuel, which flow upward. This also means when they activate they can also drag down the smoke layer on the ceiling reducing visibility.

In contrast, Automist through its side wall delivery is able to utilise the buoyancy of the fire plume to suck the mist in and suppress fires. Its lower position and early activation means it only needs 5.6 litres per minute to suppress fires which would require ten times as much with a traditional sprinkler solution. This means installation is easy and it does not require a large tank or water main upgrade, which can be a significant cost barrier

Archimedes in practice - Fire fighting and the Archimedes principle of buoyancy, by Ragnar Wighus. [690 Kb]

 

Can you use Automist on a chip pan fire?

High-pressure water mist has proven itself highly effective in protecting deep fat fryers for many years, and is regarded as a very clean way to address the problem. Traditional thinking says that you do not use water to extinguish an oil fire, because bulk water sinks below the oil and boils, ejecting burning oil into the room. The very fine droplets produced by Automist are small enough to be carried by thermal air currents, however. Rather than sinking below the oil, they are drawn into the flame where they suppress the fire.

What happens during activation?

In the event of a fire, Automist Smartscan first locates the fire, takes aim, then activates its high-pressure pump; whereas Automist activates immediately. Once an alarm condition lasts longer than 12s, both systems are programmed to run continuously for 30 minutes or while the alarm input remains active, whichever is the longer. This prevents interruption of mist operation if the room temperature drops below 57°C while a fire is still present. For installations where Automist will be controlled by a fire panel, Automist may be set to operate only while its alarm input remains active. Automist uses approximately 10% of the water of a traditional sprinkler system, running at approximately 5.5 lpm, and therefore minimises consequential water damage and runoff. The system can be stopped at any time by pressing a button on the control unit.

What can my building control officer approve?

Automist exists primarily to allow projects to go ahead with the layouts that customers want. Acceptance is ultimately determined by the authority that has jurisdiction over your project, for example your building control officer or approved inspector. In the case of LACoRS guide compliance you may need to consult your local authority housing officer or in some cases, Fire and Rescue.

For building control purposes, both Automist and Automist Smartscan are covered by LABC Registered Details, allowing building control officers to approve compliant properties without a long and detailed investigation. For Automist, RD EW171 covers open plan layouts in loft converted houses, while Automist Smartscan's RD EW534 gives easy approval for any BS 8458: 2015 domestic sprinkler application.

You can consult our Before You Buy guide to determine general suitability for your project. The guide explains how some projects are more easily approved than others and outlines some of the key options. Automist may not be the best option for every project and some layouts are not approvable even with a full sprinkler system throughout the property. If it's not clear that your project can be easily approved, it will sometimes be possible to move forward with a custom fire engineered solution designed specifically for your project; it may also benefit you to make sure (before you start building) that you have selected a building control service that has the relevant specialist expertise in fire.

An Automist Accredited Installer serving your area can help you to work up a specific proposal for Building Control; please have layout plans ready if you have them.

Does Automist Smartscan have a permanent blue light behind the "letterbox" of the spray head?

No. The light only illuminates when the head is activated or when the head needs to re-park itself flush with the faceplate.

What maintenance is required?

Automist should be commissioned annually by an Accredited Installer. Commissioning is a simple programmed procedure which allows Automist to be tested, during which the pump runs for approximately a minute and the output pressure is monitored. The installer will use equipment to direct the resulting spray into the sink or a bucket.

How does water mist work?

When water is driven through a specialised nozzle at very high pressures (in Automist's case around 80 bar), the water is atomised to produce a fine mist or fog. Water mist removes heat from the fire and displaces oxygen from the fire zone, resulting in fire control, suppression or extinguishment. The intention is to reduce the oxygen concentration around the flame, lower the temperature and lessen the radiative heat to such an extent that combustion can be longer be maintained, thus reducing damage and maintaining survivable conditions.

How big a problem are fires in the kitchen?

In the UK alone there are 300,000 dwelling fires each year: 60% of these start in the kitchen. Little real impact has been made in reducing domestic fire property losses despite public and private sector fire safety campaigns. Student housing, care homes for the elderly, sheltered accommodation and flats with shared BS 8489-7:201 are all high risk categories. UK Government research suggests that socially deprived households are 31 times more likely to suffer fires than households in general.

How do costs and other features compare with other types of domestic fire protection?

Product Type
 

Mechanism
 

Rapid, discreet
installation

Water usage
 

Cost
(typical)

Cost
(whole house)

Water Mist
Sprinkler System

Fire Suppression

No

Traditional
Sprinkler System

Fire Suppression

No

Automist

Fire Suppression

Yes

Fire Curtain

Compartmentation

No

* Relative costs are based on retrofit and depend on the specific products used, economies of scale, and project complexity. The cost to install Automist depends mostly on how much of your property you need to cover, the floor area and room shapes.

Automist tends to be most cost-effective when installed in a single rectangular room of less than about 8.5 x 4.5 metres, where it will often work out significantly less expensive than retrofitting conventional sprinklers. When used in larger projects where multiple rooms need to be protected, sprinklers can be a cheaper solution, but Automist offers much less disruption, takes less space, has less potential for property damage, and has little or no impact on period features (e.g. ceiling mouldings). Automist also does not require an external pump or tank.

Automist must be installed by one of our Accredited Installers. Contact your regional Accredited Reseller-Installer for a quotation.

Can I integrate Automist with an existing alarm system?

Technically, Automist can be interconnected with many existing alarm systems, however some caution is required. To avoid mistakes, it's preferable that Automist activation and domestic smoke detection be kept completely separate. Where a fire alarm panel is used, Automist can be driven from a volt-free relay output provided that the panel provides suitable zoning / cause-and-effect options. With Automist Smartscan (as of 2016), it's critical that the system not be activated by manual call points or smoke alarms.

What does Automist offer landlords and social housing organisations?

Landlords have duties to assess and manage fire risks under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Housing Act 2004. It is a criminal offence not to comply with this legislation, punishable by large fines or prison sentences.

The risk assessment process introduced by the legislation is designed to highlight issues with the property such as poor escape routes or likely factors around residents such as the inability to self-rescue or early-stage dementia. The legislation requires that reasonable measures be taken to mitigate such risks and bans certain layouts such as inner bedrooms above first floor. Automist can be used to reduce the scale of the fire, slow its development and to give residents time to escape or to be helped to escape.

Designed for ease of retrofit, Automist can be installed without major disruption. When installed in the course of a major refurbishment project, the advantage is twofold: disruption is minimised, and volume pricing offers exceptional value.

Automist PPS offers a solution for organisations that need to solve a fire safety problem for a particular property or resident immediately, where the plumbing or dedicated electrical circuit for Automist is not present or the where need is temporary.

Does Automist comply with the Water Regulations?

Automist is WRAS Approved. It has been examined, tested and found, when correctly installed, to comply with the requirements of the United Kingdom Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations/Scottish Water Byelaws.

Will the Automist Fixed Tap Head fit with my monobloc tap?

The Automist Tap Head has been designed to be compatible with the vast majority of monobloc taps (45-60 mm diameter base) that fit into a standard 35 mm sink or work surface hole. Monobloc taps are affixed to the worktop using a stud bar, which may be at the front or rear of the tap dependent on the tap model: a) Front stud configuration (Automist with 2 nozzles, front facing stud) b) Rear stud configuration (Automist with 2 nozzles, back facing stud) Automist is compatible with either configuration. Monobloc taps which have two studs, instead of one, at either the front or the back can also be used with either configuration. Automist can also be installed on a flat work surface without a monobloc tap using a blanking plate.

What is the maximum room size a single Automist unit can protect?

The Automist Fixed Wall Head was tested by Exova Warringtonfire in an area 8 x 4 x 2.5 m with fire hazards up to 5m away. The spray head should therefore be within 5m of and in the approximate line of sight of any possible fire hazard.

Automist Smartscan was tested by Exova Warringtonfire for with fire hazards up to 6m away. For applications in rooms over 80m2 further fire engineering will typically be required.

What type of hazards has Automist been tested against?

The Automist range has been extensively tested against a variety of test and simulated real life scenarios. Automist Smartscan has met the fire performance standards outlined in BS 9252 and BS 8458. Automist Fixed Wall Head was also tested against a series of BS 8458 fire loads. For more details on the testing download our technical data and watch our videos to see the product in action.

How can I be sure that key factors like nozzle spacing, flow and pressure, compartmentation and ventilation are similar to what was tested?

Automist's installation guidelines ensure that these parameters are set up to be consistent with or better than those used in our third-party testing. These guidelines were extensively reviewed during the creation of our LABC Registered Details.

Accredited Installers are trained to follow these guidelines, and an installation report and layout are submitted to Plumis for checking after every installation. Plumis strives to ensure that installers follow the guidance and that where there are deviations from guidance, these are made clear in the project documentation for all affected parties to see.

Does Automist comply with BS 8458 or BS 9251/9252?

Automist products work in a somewhat different way to British Standard sprinklers, however for most applications, an Automist product is available that can be straightforwardly used in their place.

Automist Smartscan was tested by independent third parties against BS 9252 and BS 8458 (BSi Verification Certificate - VC 656504). Whether the fire was near, far, shielded or ventilated, it passed the same performance tests that are applied to both conventional sprinklers and watermist sprinklers. The Automist Fixed Wall Head achieves a fire performance somewhat below that of sprinklers and therefore is not as widely applicable as Automist Smartscan. Both products enjoy easy building regulations approval in England and Wales thanks to their LABC Registered Details. In particular, Automist Smartscan can be used in any application where a BS 8458:2015 compliant watermist system is deemed to be acceptable as a code-compliant automatic water fire suppression system.

British Standards provide one particular approach to specifying sprinklers throughout a whole property, with Automist products offering an alternative that is commonly used either when only a single room needs fire suppression, or when sprinklers are impractical or undesirable. The Standards-based approach is necessary for sprinklers because of their bespoke nature, with varying combinations of pipes, nozzles and pump from multiple suppliers being combined in a highly customised way based on careful calculations. Automist, by contrast, is a pre-engineered solution with greatly reduced scope for customisation and a simpler specification process.

BS 8458 Requirement

Descriptive or Performance?

Automist Smartscan Provision

Comment on Compliance

1. Scope
"watermist systems with automatic nozzles"

Descriptive

Does not use an automatic nozzle as described in the definitions "an integral quick-response
thermal release element" but system does function automatically using a thermal element on the heat detector

Uses an open nozzle configuration + automatic heat detector.  Complies with performance.

5. System actuation should be automatic by glass bulb or fusible link, initiated by heat.

Descriptive

System is actuated automatically by a heat detector.

Actuation is not by glass bulb or fusible link, but it is automatic and by heat. Complies with performance.

6.1 Fire Tests
When tested, nozzle should suppress fires for 10 minutes for domestic or 30 minutes for residential.

Performance

System run automatically for 30 minutes until stop button on pump is pressed.

Complies with domestic and residential performance.

6.1 Fire Tests
Defines tests and performance criteria.

Performance

System has been tested appropriate and meets all performance criteria.

Complies with performance.

6.2 Limits of Application
Defines limits of applicability.
3.5m or 5.5m high
32m2 or 80m2

Performance

Tests a,b,c,d and e have been run so 3.5m high and 80m2 are tested limits. Due to nozzle height from wall, 5.5m high should not be an issue if there are no fire loads at 3.5m and above.

Limits to be verified on a case by case basis and Plumis to be consulted in case of doubt. A fire engineering evaluation may be required.

6.3 System Design
b) should be a wet pipe system.

Descriptive

System is not a dry pipe system.

Does not impact performance and avoids risk of Legionella

6.3 System Design
c) Thermally actuated nozzles should meet requirements for quick response in accordance with BS EN 12259-1.

Descriptive

System is actuated by heat detector with less thermal inertia than a fusible link

Complies with performance.

6.4 Extent of Protection
all parts of the dwelling

Performance

System can be installed in as many rooms as necessary. Partial protection is acceptable as a compensatory measure as per 4.5, Approved Document B and Registered Detail EW 534

Complies with performance.

6.5 Hydraulic calculations

Performance

Automist is a pre-engineered system so hydraulic calculations are not required.

No requirement to comply.

6.6 Discharge Performance
Flow for 64m2 Area of Maximum Operation

Performance

In this pre-engineered system, each spray head is supplied by an independent  positive displacement constant flow pump so system does not need to be flow designed

No requirement to comply.

6.7 Discharge duration should be 30 minutes for residential.

Performance

Discharge duration is 30 minutes 30 minutes or until stop button on pump is pressed.

Complies with requirement.

6.8.1 Water Supplies
Design should identify water supply requirements

Performance

Automist requires 1bar and 5.6lpm for 30 minutes for every pump. Dry pipe avoids Legionella risk.

Complies with requirement.

6.8.2 Water Supplies
water can be from mains supply boosted by a pump.

Descriptive

Automist is always supplied from a mains supply boosted by pump.  No need for water tank due to low pump flow.

Complies with requirement.

6.8.4 Mains Water Supplies
Flow requirement of 64m2 plus 25lpm (domestic) or 50lpm (residential)

Descriptive

Priority valve not expected to be required. Maximum of 12lpm (for 64m2 coverage if 2 pumps are connected to run in same room) plus 25lpm (or 50lpm) should be easily achievable due to low pump flow.  Install to be validated as part of commissioning procedure.

Complies with requirement.

6.9 Backflow Prevention

Descriptive

WRAS approved backflow check valve included in every install

Complies with requirement.

6.10 Nozzle coverage and location
Spacing, positioning, height

Descriptive

Automist's different principle of operation requires different locations as per Technical Handbook which must be followed. (typical for pre-engineered systems).

Alternative coverage and positioning permits proven performance by testing. Compliance with prescriptive requirements is not necessary for performance.

6.11 Components testing and certification

Performance

There is no LPCB nozzle certification available yet but Automist has been internally tested against UL 2167.

Meets performance requirements through in-house testing.

6.11.2.3 Pipes and Fittings

Descriptive

Automist accepts the use of stainless steel piping, as per standard or flexible hoses as per Plumis spec.

Complies with requirement.

6.11.3.5 Valves

Descriptive

a) labelled stop valve is present upstream of pump
b) system test valve not required as open nozzle (system flow and integrity tested at nozzle)
c) drain valve not required as open nozzle (quick disconnect used for water purge)
d) alarm valve not required (alarm triggered electronically)

Complies with the requirements which are applicable.

6.11.4 Electrically operated devices
fire pump power supply

Descriptive

fused, fire resisting cable, from supply side of consumer unit used 

Complies with requirement.

6.11.5 System strainers

Descriptive

Strainer present upstream of pump

Complies with requirement.

6.11.6 Fire Pumps
Location, protection and automatic test

Descriptive

Location and protection requirements in Technical Handbook. Automatic churn of the pump is not possible on an open nozzle system.

Cannot comply with requirement because not a wet pipe system

6.13 Additives

Descriptive

No additives used

Not applicable.

7. Installation, commissioning and documentation

Descriptive

Frost protection only if water supply pipes to pump can freeze, remaining system is dry. System commissioning allows for full discharge, fire simulation test. Higher reliability than 7.2. Plumis warranty only provided when Commissioning Certificate sent to Plumis by authprised installer.

Complies and supersedes requirements.

8. Maintenance 

Descriptive

An Automist annual service consists of a full recommissioning of the system (alarm & discharge) as detailed in the Technical Handbook. 

Complies with intent of requirements through specific Plumis procedure.

Annex C. Room fire tests

Performance

System has been tested in accordance with requirements of Annex C and meets all performance criteria.

Complies with performance.

Does Automist comply with BS 8489?

BS 8489 is a family of standards published in 2016, to cover industrial and commercial premises. These are not typical Automist applications and the use of Automist in such a setting would normally be supported by a suitable fire engineering report or fire risk assessment.

What standard is Automist certified to?

Innovative fire suppression systems are permitted for use by the English/Welsh and Scottish building regulations (e.g. section 0.18 ADB Dwellinghouses). In general, innovative products can only be certified by a third party if the pre-existing standards are broad enough in scope to capture them. This requires a standard that is strongly performance based (such as UL2167) as opposed to prescriptive (such as BS 9251). An alternative route to demonstrate equivalence is to third party test to the performance requirements to demonstrate that the intended performance is achieved despite the use of an alternative method.

The Fixed Wall Head was extensively tested by Exova Warringtonfire and is an LABC Registered Solution (EW171) for loft conversions. Automist Smartscan was also extensively tested by Exova Warringtonfire (BSi Verification Certificate - VC 656504) and is LABC Registered (EW534) to be used in any application where a BS 8458:2015 compliant watermist system is deemed to be acceptable as a code-compliant automatic water fire suppression system, for example in accordance with the recommendations of BS 9991:2015.

Automist is installed only by installers accredited by Plumis, and Plumis requests layouts and installation data from all installations and thus monitors installation quality. The accredited installer provides a certificate of commissioning to the customer which verifies that key guidelines have been followed.

What precautions have been taken to ensure robustness to low mains pressure?

Automist requires 1-10 bar pressure and an available flow of at least 6l/min to operate correctly. This flow is less than the Eco-Shower specification for modern homes. UK government data (Low cost Sprinkler Report 2007, FPA/DLCG) shows that 99.7% of UK homes have at least 1.5 bar in the daytime and 1.05 bar at night, assuming a 30% pressure reduction measure overnight.

How much space does the Automist base unit (pump) require around it?

The pump measures 365 mm (height) by 240 mm (depth) by 178 mm (width) and weighs 7.0 kg. It must be installed with a 100 mm gap without obstruction at both the front and back. The unit must be housed in a volume of at least 0.124 cubic metres and must not be covered with any products or materials.

What precautions have been taken to prevent nozzle blocking over time?

The nozzles include a filter mesh to capture solids. In our tests we verified that there is no detectable change in nozzle performance over multiple hours of use, in a far more aggressive usage pattern than a real system would encounter. In addition, units are now supplied with a filter kit as standard.

What is an LABC Registered Detail?

LABC Registered Details are a type approval scheme for building regulations. They allow rapid approval of certain solutions that are not explicitly listed in the Building Regulations guidance but which have been deemed to be a suitable equivalent to the more standard solution. For more details of Automist's Registered Details, visit the suitability page.

Do I really need a fire door between ground and first floor?

Automist works in conjunction with the (separate) smoke detection in your property to keep you safe from a variety of types of fire. Where the escape route can be compromised by fire because it's not fully separated from living areas, people in the property will be warned of fires by smoke detection. Where these are small and slow-growing, detection should be adequate to get you out in time. Faster growing fires pose a larger challenge however, and smoke detection isn't enough: such situations require a suppression system like Automist to "buy time" for people escaping from the property. Approved Document B recommends that in three storey houses that don't have an enclosed staircase, the fire door between ground and first will help keep the first floor landing free from smoke so that the first floor escape windows remain usable, whether the fire is small or large.

Removing this fire door cannot be done casually, but in some projects, removal can be justified with a fire engineering approach, provided that other measures are put in place to compensate. Some fire engineers argue that the fire door in question will usually be propped open, as was found in NHBC Foundation Report NF19. If so, it will be largely ineffective and will not block smoke until it is manually closed. In this eventuality, a property that followed the standard layout could have been rendered much safer with earlier detection, achieved by installing interlinked smoke detectors in all habitable areas rather than just corridors. These engineers will therefore often make the argument that enahnced detection is a suitable alternative to this fire door in many projects. However such arguments must be made on a case by case basis, perhaps supported by a fire engineering policy decision within your building control organisation, or by a formal fire engineer's report.

What precautions have been taken to prevent obstructions from blocking the spray?

Automist Spray Heads must not be obstructed and are labelled as such. In addition, service engineers are trained to monitor for obstructions that may have been introduced over time and make the importance of this issue clear to the customer.

To avoid the risk of mis-targeting, additional precautions were introduced with Automist Smartscan. The Smartscan spray head will normally only be installed in "preferred positions" where obstruction in front of or to one side of the head by high furniture items like bookcases is highly unlikely. Where a preferred position can't be found, extra spray heads (and therefore extra pumps) should be used to ensure that the installation is robust to future obstructions.

How can I be sure Plumis are a reputable manufacturer?

Third Party Certification by BRE Global have established Plumis Limited have complied with the Quality Management Systems requirements of ISO 9001:2008 for the design, manufacture and supply of water mist fire suppression systems. Quality Management System certification enables us to demonstrate our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction, as well as continuously improving our company's operations. The internationally recognised quality management system standard is the preferred solution for organisations worldwide.