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Subject: Fire suppression using Micromist

Fire suppression using Micromist

From: Elizabeth C. Welsh <aaphw>
Date: Tuesday, September 28, 1993
Nicholas Artim, author of a recent article in WAAC Newsletter, "Cultural
Heritage Fire Suppression Systems: Alternatives to Halon 1301" (v15 n2,
May 1993), has sent me the following notice regarding some very
interesting tests about to be carried out to evaluate "micromist"
sprinklers for fire suppression. Please note that participation in the
test project from museums, libraries, archives, and other cultural
heritage collections is invited.

    Phase-Out of Halon 1301

    As I'm sure many of you are aware, there currently exists a fire
    suppression vacancy resulting from the environmental impact
    associated with Halon 1301 gas. Several alternative extinguishing
    gases are under development to replace this void, however,
    environmental and toxicological issues associated with each new
    agent have yet to be addressed. The result is that several years may
    pass before a satisfactory alternative gas is found.

    Micromist as a Possible Replacement

    At this time, a promising technology for the replacement of Halon
    involves the use of fine water fog (micromist). Micromist
    essentially involves the release of water at exceptionally high
    discharge pressures (approx. 1,000 psi), thereby creating a fog
    within the protected area. The result is a high efficiency cooling
    operation which has demonstrated fire control using significantly
    less water than comparable sprinklers. Initial tests on mocked-up
    hotel situations have produced fire extinguishment with less than 2
    gallons of water, compared to 20-40 gallons per minute for standard
    sprinklers. As an added benefit, the water saturation commonly
    association with standard fire sprinkler discharge is avoided.

    Among the areas where micromist appears to be viable is in water
    sensitive applications such as fine art galleries, natural history
    exhibition areas, archival centers, and collection vaults. Computer
    and telecommunications rooms are also expected to be within the
    suppression capabilities of micromist.

    Besides the anticipated benefit of successful fire extinguishment
    with low water damage, other potential benefits include: lower
    installation costs, minimal aesthetic impact, and environmental

    Determining Micromist's Capabilities

    While appearing to be an excellent suppression methodology, there
    still remain several questions regarding mist capabilities and
    constraints: What factors impact mist success? Is it equally
    successful in open and closed rooms? Can mist spread throughout a
    room similar to gaseous agents? With respect to heritage (cultural
    property) applications, one of the other issues to be examined is
    whether damage to collections can be minimized with micromist.

    Fire Tests Planned for This Autumn (1993)

    Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Corporation in joint effort with
    Marriott Hotel Corporation, Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, and
    the University of Maryland, plan to perform a series of fire tests
    this fall at College Park, Maryland. The main objective of these
    tests is to study micromist capabilities in an array of fire hazard
    scenarios including hotel rooms, computer mainframes,
    telecommunications equipment, and research facilities.

    Museum/Archive/Library Materials will be Included in the Test

    Fire Safety Network (Artim's company) will be providing technical
    assistance during these tests with respect to cultural heritage fire
    problems. Mockups of museum exhibition galleries and storage
    facilities will be constructed. Fire test scenarios will include
    simulated arson fires in exhibit rooms, alcohol fires in specimen
    vaults, and fast-growth fires in collections storage rooms.

    The desired intent of micromist suppression is not only to
    extinguish the fire, but to do so with little or no content damage.
    Therefore, in each test situation, a variety of material samples,
    representative of typical collections items, will be placed.
    Following fire suppression by the micromist system, each item will
    be removed, examined for damage, and assessed for required
    restoration effort.

    Participation from Cultural Heritage Institutions is Needed

    The micromist team is not experienced in conservation, preservation,
    or curatorial practices. We will be able to document successful fire
    control, but we lack the knowledge required to determine the degree
    of resultant collections item damage and restoration requirements.
    Therefore, we are asking for assistance from various heritage
    organizations in providing representative, surplus collections
    materials, and conservation/curatorial expertise.

    Our methodology plan is to obtain collections samples from a variety
    of heritage institutions. We are asking that the conservators and
    curators in each organization examine and document the condition of
    sample items prior to sending them to the fire test facility.
    Standard protocol for handling and emergency recovery of these items
    should be included. Sample items will then be placed in one of the
    applicable fire test scenarios. Upon extinguishment, samples will be
    removed from the test facility and transported back to their
    original institution for professional analysis. Following analysis,
    we ask that details about damage and the extent of restoration
    needed be forwarded to the fire test team for inclusion in the
    project report. This report will be made available to contribution

    With this test methodology, we hope to determine overall
    effectiveness of micromist technology with respect to fire control
    and minimizing collections damage.

    Several heritage institutions already have agreed to provide
    materials and technical expertise for the test program. These
    include the National Gallery of Art (USA), the National Library of
    Canada, Canadian Conservation Institute, the Field Museum of Natural
    History, the National Archives of Canada, the Library of Congress,
    the Architect of the Capitol (USA), the National Library of
    Scotland, and the National Park Service (USA).

    Now is the Time to Voice your Concerns to the Micromist Testing Team

    At this time, we are still identifying additional heritage items
    which should be included in the fire tests. If there are specific
    items which your organization would like to see included in these
    tests, please send this information to my attention. I would also
    appreciate any information which you may have regarding where we
    might be able to obtain surplus representative items and
    conservation/curatorial expertise related to these materials.

    If an institution can contribute to a project, or if you have
    further questions, please feel free to contact me.

    Nicholas Artim, Director
    Fire Safety Network
    Post Office Box 895
    Middlebury, Vermont 05753 USA

    Telephone: 802/388-1064
    Fax: 802/388-1168
    UK: 0101-802-388-1064

Elizabeth C. Welsh
Editor, WAAC Newsletter

                  Conservation DistList Instance 7:28
                Distributed: Tuesday, September 28, 1993
                        Message Id: cdl-7-28-002
Received on Tuesday, 28 September, 1993

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