Heritage Fire Protection
One of the most effective ways of ensuring heritage buildings are protected from the devastating effects of fire is by installing an automatic fire sprinkler system. It is much like having a firefighter on duty in the property 24/7.
Old buildings are particularly susceptible to fire damage, a large number of heritage buildings are damaged by fire every year. If a modern warehouse is damaged by fire, the building and its contents can usually be replaced, whereas historic buildings and their contents are, by definition, irreplaceable. It is therefore important to take measures to prevent fires from getting out of control.
An emerging fire-sprinkler technology which holds high promise for water-sensitive applications is water mist. Award-winning Automist Smartscan delivers water at high pressure to produce a fine mist. This maximizes cooling and suppresses fires with minimal amounts of water. Water mist systems can be the ideal solution for many cultural heritage applications.
The unique spray head is subtly mounted on a sidewall, so it can even be used in rooms with decorative ornamental plaster ceilings with centres, ceiling rings, Victorian/Edwardian ceiling roses and cornices. We worked closely with officials and National Heritage to ensure the system is installed with the minimum of disturbance to the fabric and structure of the building, with subtle spray heads installed in the walls at light switch height and all pipe work hidden from view.
Performance Based Approach
The traditional requirements of the building and fire codes are that of a prescriptive approach. This means that once the occupancy classification has been determined, the code prescribes rules for everything from the construction type to means of egress and fire protection requirements such as those for fire alarms and fire sprinkler systems. Prescriptive codes are defined as those “which provide specific (design, construction and maintenance) requirements for building, energy conservation, fire prevention, mechanical, plumbing and so forth.”
The prescriptive codes also recognize “alternative materials, design, and methods of construction and equipment”. This approach is acceptable when the alternative complies with the intent of the prescriptive requirements and is consistent with those requirements in quality, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability, and safety. Compliance with the specific performance-based provisions (performance based design) of the International Codes shall be an alternative to the specific requirements (prescriptive) of the codes.
A performance based design is defined as: “An engineering approach to design elements of a building based on agreed upon performance goals and objectives, engineering analysis and quantitative assessment of alternatives against the design goals and objectives using accepted engineering tools, methodologies and performance criteria.”
In the NFPA codes, this approach is known as “equivalencies” which also specifically recognize the use of the performance based design approach.
The reason a performance based approach can be used to seek approval for an alternative method of fire suppression. In many cases, a traditional sprinkler system poses as much threat to the contents of the building as does a fire. The artifacts can be damaged by water due to excess water discharge from an actual fire situation. Quite often the owner of these old world artifacts will not allow the pieces to be displayed in a sprinklered building. The risk of water damage is too high.
Automist is an ideal suppression system due to its fast response time and the efficiency with which mist is applied to a fire. The use of heat detection and IR sensing identifies the location of a fire more precisely than other suppression systems. Mist is then delivered directly to the fire much earlier which limits temperatures from reaching critical points and eliminates the need for excess water.
This revolutionary new system can detect fires, locate them, and put them out preventing the destruction that can be caused by fire and water in our historic property. We are proud to be the first in the U.S. to install the Automist System and comforted to know that our visitors’ safety is assured and the Goodridge Freedom Center is protected from fire related damage.