Robotic Parking Systems go a step beyond NFPA 88A code requirements regarding sprinklers in automated parking structures and use a fog of fine water mist with foam additive for fire protection. This system developed in Germany offers increased protection and extinguishing efficiency while reducing potential water damages to vehicles and automation equipment in the facility. The system uses up to 85 percent less water in comparison with a conventional sprinkler system and combines the advantages of a sprinkler system with those of a high-pressure extinguishing system.
Minimax – one company which produces such systems – has over 100 years of experience and has received over 2000 approvals (including UL) for their products in over 20 countries.
This type of fire protection system is used in airports, hospitals, power plants, steel plants, silos and bunkers and more. Water mist foam systems are also used to protect ships and offshore facilities such as oil platforms that require a higher-than-average level of safety due to the special conditions prevailing at sea. In these environments people cannot quickly escape in case of fire and immediate fire fighting help from outside cannot be expected.
The water mist foam extinguishing system offers a very quick response time using only a small amount of water because of the close and aimed arrangement of the specialized sprinklers in the parking area as well as increased pressure. The technology efficiently exploits the physical properties of water. The extinguishing water and foam is applied through these special nozzles or sprinklers in a fog so that the total surface area of the extinguishing water is multiplied many times. This larger total surface of the extinguishing water and foam allows it to absorb heat, to evaporate more quickly and impede the supply of oxygen to the fire. The cooling and smothering effect allows for particularly effective fire fighting.
Many fire insurers have also recognized the effective fire protection provided by these systems by granting premium discounts.
The major difference between regular sprinklers and the water mist foam system is that regular sprinklers hold the fire until fire fighters can arrive on scene to extinguish the fire. In this case fire fighters must enter the facility to fight the fire and have space to move around. In the case of the fine water mist foam system, the fire is extinguished completely before the fire fighters arrive.
The cost of this water mist foam system is equivalent to a regular sprinkler system.
Part 3 will cover some examples of the application of these types of systems.