Westminster Almshouses delighted with trial of new Automist solution
Almshouses are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of fire because of the nature of their residents, who are often forgetful and may consequently leave a high risk kitchen appliance unattended. Or they may be physically impaired and unable to reach a nascent fire quickly enough. This kind of residential accommodation is also very often located in old buildings which are difficult to adapt. These are problems experienced by the Westminster Almshouses Foundation, home to 39 people housed in Victorian cottages, which were originally built in 1879. Each is equipped with an alarm system to summon help in an emergency and a smoke alarm. But there remains the problem of a delay after the onset of a fire during which time vulnerable residents could be seriously affected by smoke and/or flames, damage to the fabric of the building and water damage caused by sprinklers or the fire brigade’s hosepipes.
When they were asked to trial Automist, a highly innovative new product from Plumis, which would overcome these serious drawbacks, they were delighted to agree. Automist uses a high pressure pump to generate a fine water mist from nozzles mounted under a standard tap. It is designed to limit fire growth and minimise the residents’ exposure to toxic gases and heat, making evacuation easier in an emergency. This is particularly relevant for the residents of the Almshouses as it provides precious extra time for the immobile, as well as sounding an alarm. The innovative system can also be mounted stand alone on a work top or even a wall – the Almshouses have chosen to fit theirs by the side of oven housings. In an extensive BRE test programme, Automist was found to render a lethal environment survivable and considerably reduce damage. It is simple to retrofit, is unobtrusive and is aesthetically very attractive. Unlike smoke alarms Automist alerts occupants to the fire and suppresses it.
“People still die in fires in properties like our Almshouses which are well maintained, have working smoke detection, comply with fire building regulations and are reached promptly by the fire service. Automist provides that much needed added level of protection. We have recommended the product to other almshouses who are also interested in fitting Automist, as they are conscious of the same problems of existing fire detection and suppression arrangements.” commented Trevor Hargreaves, Westminster Almshouses’ Deputy Director.