In recent years, RISE Fire Research has carried out several studies on fire safety for vulnerable groups in society. Personal protection water mist systems are becoming an increasingly popular technical fire protection measure. This project has mapped the experiences Norwegian municipalities have with these facilities, and suggests some recommendations for how work with mobile water mist systems can be made easier for the municipalities in the future. The report with the results from the project "Experiences regarding personal protection water mist systems installed in dwellings" has now been published.
Personal protection water mist systems can produce a water mist that can cool down and limit a fire in a small area in a dwelling. The system is equipped with sensitive detectors which can activate the system in the early stages of the fire and limit the fire spread, and in some cases extinguish the fire. This gives more time for evacuation, which can be especially important for vulnerable people with risk factors, like impaired cognitive and physical functioning.
The goal of this study has been to map the experiences in Norway regarding personal protection water mist systems, considering how the municipalities have experienced the work related to the systems and whether the systems have activated and saved lives. This will shed light upon whether mobile water mist systems are appropriate measures for vulnerable people in the society, and the risk factors that determine whether the measure is appropriate or not.
This study has used literature studies, questionnaires, and interviews to map the experiences of personal protection water mist systems in Norway. The results showed that personal protection water mist systems installed in Norwegian dwellings have been activated in connection with fire outbreaks, and thus limited or extinguished the fire. This has saved lives on several occasions and reduced the damage potential. There are many people who have risk factors that make it appropriate to install a mobile water mist system in their home, but there are also exceptions.
The risk factors that indicate that it is beneficial to install mobile water mist systems in Norwegian dwellings are:
- Impaired cognitive abilities
- Impaired physical abilities
- Drug and alcohol problems
- Living alone
The systems are particularly suitable when several of the risk factors are present at the same time. It was also shown that personal protection water mist systems are not suitable for mobile people who spend time in several places in the home and are therefore often outside the system's coverage area. Personal protection water mist systems are not recommended for people who may have the potential to sabotage the system.
In questionnaires and interviews, it emerged that there are big differences between how Norwegian municipalities work with assigning, installing, operating, and maintaining personal protection water mist systems. In larger municipalities, there are more people who rely on routines and formal processes for the work, and there is therefore a greater proportion of the larger municipalities who distribute the facilities out to individuals than in the small municipalities where the work is more characterised by informal routines and personal relations.
Based on the results from this study, it is our opinion that the following aspects should be covered
by future work:
- Need for a new and updated cost-benefit analysis for personal protection water mist systems.
- Need for a better statistical basis for assessment of the personal protection water mist systems.
- Need for a Norwegian test standard for personal protection water mist systems.
- Need for clear guidelines for assignment, procurement, installing, operation, and maintenance of personal protection water mist systems.
The study is commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) and the Norwegian Building Authority (DiBK).
Read the full report in Norwegian with English summary (pdf