A leading social housing provider has increased fire protection for its high-risk residents, following a successful pilot installation.
Orbit Group first commissioned approved Automist installer Firemist to retrofit Plumis’ watermist fire suppression system at a basement flat in Leamington Spa following the recommendations of a person-centred fire risk assessment.
The resident living in the flat – as a result of deteriorating health issues – was no longer able to easily move around or leave their home without support.
Whilst waiting for an adapted home to become available, Orbit wanted to ensure measures were in place to mitigate fire risk.
Having previously completed a CPD session about using Automist to meet building regulations, Orbit was familiar with the innovative sprinkler alternative and the benefits it offers with regards to increasing tenability and reducing the accumulation of toxic gases – the biggest killer in domestic fires.
Given the resident’s circumstances and limited mobility, this feature was particularly important to the housing provider as it would give the resident as much time as possible to escape or be rescued in the event of a fire.
Selecting a fire safety system that could be easily retrofitted, causing minimal disruption whilst the resident remained in the property, was also a key consideration.
Automist fire suppression engineer and founder of Firemist, Russell Faulkner, said: “We’re always able to work any installation around residents and their needs, and as with most Automist installs, there was no need for a tank or water supply upgrade to complete this particular project.
“The system’s targeted watermist spray, offers 6m range for volume protection. For this resident’s home, we installed three wall-mounted sprayheads, using trunking to conceal the system’s flexible hoses, each connected to a small pump that is stored in a storage cupboard located in the kitchen, to provide optimum protection.”
Following the success of the pilot installation, Orbit identified another fire safety project at one of its retirement living schemes in Kent.
An advantage of installing Automist is that the system can be installed on a flat-by-flat basis – enabling social landlords to prioritise works based on the individual needs of its residents and fire safety requirements.
For this particular project, it was identified that due to the fabric of the building Orbit needed to improve fire protection across the scheme’s first floor in conjunction with the building fire strategy.
Near the end of the project, a resident living on the ground floor was identified as being at risk of fatality or injury in the event of a fire and so an additional installation was carried out in this particular flat to increase protection.
Comprising of a total of 30 flats, 17 required the installation of additional fire suppression.
Ahead of the installation Orbit carried out several engagement exercises to ensure everyone understood exactly why the system had been chosen, how the system worked and would look once installed.
“Before instructing the installation, it was really important to us that we did all we could to directly communicate with as many of our residents as possible, including those not necessarily having the system installed,” said Kelly Lee, building safety lead at Orbit.
“In addition to visiting each resident in their home to provide information about the system and proactively answer any questions they had we also arranged a session with Plumis and its demo van, so that people could see exactly what happens when the system is activated.
“We had around 13 residents take part, all of whom had questions about the technical capability and effectiveness of the system but also the installation itself.
“It was a really positive session, and many were surprised at the reduced consequential water damage caused by the system in the event of an activation in comparison to sprinklers. This seemed to be a real selling point as for many of our older residents, their possessions are timeless and sentimental in value.”
Automist has been installed in a total of 18 Orbit homes to date (including the pilot installation), with the housing provider referring more installs to Plumis as and when any high-risk residents are identified.
When asked, as part of a resident feedback survey undertaken by Orbit, 91% rated the installers who worked in their property as great or excellent, with nearly two thirds saying the installation process was less disruptive than expected.
In addition to this, all the residents who responded to the survey reported that they understood how the system worked and were pleased with the Automist system overall. One resident commented that it is, “not intrusive and (it’s) easy to get used to.”
“Fire safety is high on the agenda for all housing associations,” added Kelly. “At Orbit we’re really keen to adopt the most effective technologies and practices to ensure our residents have adequate protection and feel safe in their homes.
“We’re really pleased with the Automist installs carried out so far and we look forward to working with Plumis’ team moving forward.”
If you work in social housing and are interested in knowing more about Plumis’ Automist technology, get in touch on 020 7871 3899.
Download an Automist Information Pack