Thomas Jefferson’s home gets Marioff water mist system

Water mist fire suppression systems find new market in historic properties
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Monday, January 21, 2013

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—A Marioff water mist fire suppression system is now protecting Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s iconic home here. It’s an example of a growing niche market for water mist systems: historic homes and other cultural heritage buildings.

A recent report by IMS Research found that water mist—a relatively new technology started in the shipbuilding industry—is expanding to more applications on land, including hospitals. 

Water mist systems are similar to sprinklers but produce smaller water droplets. Marioff says they’re ideal for historic sites because they protect against fire while limiting water damage to artifacts.

Finland-based Marioff is part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp. It is a provider of water mist fire protection technology and a supplier of system solutions worldwide.

Monticello isn’t the only historic property that Marioff is protecting. According to a recent news release, the same Marioff HI-FOG system now installed at the Jefferson home has been used to preserve three homes of U.S. presidents.

Marioff officials did not respond to requests for information on which presidential homes its systems protect. But the company said in the release that the HI-FOG system also “has been used to protect a wide variety of cultural heritage buildings, including Garrett Hall at the University of Virginia.”

Adi Pavlovic, an IMS Research analyst and author of the recent report on fire suppression systems, told Security Systems News it makes sense for water mist companies to target the historic properties market, even though it’s a niche one.

“It’s really not that large a market, but it’s a perfect opportunity for water mist because one of the benefits of water mist is protecting high-value assets while minimizing damage,” he said. “It’s interesting they’re picking it up, but it’s definitely the perfect application for it and this is exactly what the technology was created for.”

He said protecting high-profile sites can be good public relations for water mist, helping it become better known for land applications. The technology is best known for its use on cruise ships and other facets of the shipping industry.

Monticello, for which construction began in 1769, is a National Historic Landmark visited by more than 400,000 people each year.

The private, nonprofit Thomas Jefferson Foundation, dedicated to preserving Monticello, determined that the house’s prior conventional sprinkler system, “had reached the end of its reasonable life span,” according to the news release. The release said the foundation “collaborated with Marioff to upgrade … to a HI-FOG water mist fire suppression system.”