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Last edited 07 Aug 2016

Personal protection watermist systems in the homes of vulnerable people

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) is an independent, research-based consultancy, testing and training organisation, operating in the built environment and associated industries.

In November 2015, London Fire Brigade and BRE published Personal Protection Systems (PPS), Guidance on the use, deployment and limitations of Personal Protection Watermist Systems in the homes of vulnerable people.

Vulnerable people and the elderly are at greater risk from fire in the home, in particular if they live on their own. This can be because of their lifestyle and mental capacity, and because their physical and/or mental health impairments mean they may be unable to easily escape without assistance.

The report provides guidance for assessing and identifying people whose level of fire risk warrants additional measures such as a Personal Protection System (PPS).

A Personal Protection System is an automatic fire suppression device, designed specifically for a domestic environment. It activates over a bed or chair that is the seat of a fire, protecting individuals who may be unable to escape without assistance. PPS systems have also been used as risk reduction measures in other types of applications, for example where a home is at risk from an arson attack.

PPS units are portable risk reduction measures, that can be quickly installed, moved or re-used. A typical PPS is self-contained and consists of a water container connected to an open watermist nozzle. An internal control panel automatically activates the system when a fire is detected causing watermist to be sprayed from the nozzle onto the risk area. Because PPS are designed to activate at an earlier stage of fire development than traditional sprinkler systems, they have a faster response to a fire and this can help to prevent significant heat and smoke development.

The guidance includes tools for identifying likely candidates for a PPS. A typical risk profile would be a person who, because of mental and/or physical health issues, spends the majority of their time in a bed or chair and who would be unable to easily escape in the event of a fire. A vulnerable person who is mobile and so has the potential to be affected by a fire anywhere in their home would usually require a suppression system that covers all risk areas

Having identified that an individual is vulnerable from fire it is necessary to carry out a specific assessment of the level of risk and the benefits of a range of potential control measures. This step will often follow a more general risk assessment carried out by a care or housing provider or a home fire safety check carried out by the fire and rescue service.

--BRE Group

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