Dr Jim Glockling discusses RISCAuthority’s watermist questionnaires and how they have been developed to address failures within watermist systems.

IN LAST month’s FRM, I posted the article, ‘Mist the point!’ (see FRM November 2015, pp 28-31) on our concerns over the technical detail of a proposed commercial watermist standard. By way of follow-up, I can confirm that in support of our insurer members, we have updated and re-issued our two existing Watermist Questionnaires – IQ1 (Local Protection Systems) and IQ2 (Building Protection Systems) – and created a new document, IQ3, to specifically address systems incorporating thermally actuated ‘closed-heads’ (IQ2 now specifically deals with ‘Deluge’ watermist systems).

These documents are being offered to BSI for inclusion in any standard that may emerge and can be freely downloaded from the RISCAuthority website.

RISCAuthority originally developed these questionnaires to address many of the issues that were leading to failures within watermist systems, as reported to us by our membership and from first hand participation in legal cases. Typical amongst these were:

  • incorrect selection of technology • poor implementation of selected technology
  • discharge times shorter than ignition source management times (so the fire persisted after discharge end)
  • poor or no interlocking of watermist systems with mechanical systems that may sustain or be the cause of fire (ie fuel, air, conveyancing etc)
  • poor design, meaning system was only viable for normal operation of the space or machinery it was protecting, and had no ability to provide protection during periods of high risk such as cleaning, drain down, maintenance etc
  • no designed-in resilience to single point failures.

Reports back from insurers on the use of these questionnaires have been very positive as it has given them a framework to work through with designers and, where followed through, better, more resilient designs have resulted. Failure to be able to provide answers to any of the questions might demonstrate there to be a shortfall in the knowledge and evidence that FPA/RISCAuthority consider to be appropriate to the implementation of a (any) quality suppression/ extinguishing system. RISCAuthority’s Active Working Group is following the development of the proposed standard closely and will be reporting back in due course. In the new year, there will be a webinar on the suite of Watermist Questionnaires, how they should be used, and what they seek to achieve.

In relation to webinars, RISCAuthority’s first one was held on 6 November 2015 on the subject of the RISCAuthority building guides ADB and Essential Principles to an audience of more than 100. This seemed to go down very well and was approved at the Members’ Forum as being a great way of providing on-the-job training in a very convenient format.

Webinars are planned to be a monthly event and, at the time of writing, future topics will include ‘Insurance Data Toolkits – Launch of the INFORMER database’, ‘Essential Principles of Security’, ‘Updates to the Sprinkler Rules’, and the ‘Watermist Questionnaire series’. If you miss any of these, the recordings and slides will be available for download from the RISCAuthority website (www. riscauthority.co.uk) and suggestions for future webinars are greatly welcomed.

It may come as no surprise to many of you that the Internal Review of our Freedom Of Information request to DCLG for access to the fire service’s Incident Recording System dataset has again been declined, citing ‘data-protection’ and this being a ‘vexatious request’ (I looked it up and it means annoying!). Our next move is to refer this to the Information Commissioner.

Finally, Merry Christmas to all of you and all of those who contribute so willingly to the RISCAuthority scheme.

Dr James Glockling is technical director of the FPA and director of RISCAuthority

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