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The Difference Between Water Mist and Sprinkler System

Selecting the right fire suppression system is crucial for safety and compliance, especially in the UK where standards are stringent. In this article, we compare two key systems: traditional fire sprinklers and mist fire suppression systems. Fire sprinklers, long-standing in fire protection, offer proven effectiveness across various sectors. Meanwhile, mist systems represent a newer, innovative approach, minimising water damage and enhancing efficiency in certain environments.

At Base Fire Sprinklers, with over 30 years of experience, we bring deep expertise in fire suppression, understanding the nuances of various systems in the context of UK fire safety legislation. Here, we aim to provide a balanced exploration of their workings, benefits, and suitable applications, guiding you to make an informed decision for your specific fire safety needs.

Understanding Fire Sprinklers

Fire sprinklers, integral to fire safety for over a century, are governed by UK safety standards like BS 9251:2021. These systems, simple in design but effective in action, operate by detecting heat and activating sprinkler heads to release water directly onto a fire. This mechanism minimises water damage while effectively controlling and often extinguishing fires.

While versatile across various environments, from homes to industrial sites, fire sprinklers require a significant water supply, and can lead to water damage if the system isn’t designed and installed by a specialist. We utilise zoning strategies, where the system is segmented to activate only in affected areas, thereby minimising water damage and usage, and enhancing the system's efficiency while protecting valuable assets.

Retrofitting fire sprinklers in existing structures is a challenge that Base Fire Sprinklers meets with expertise. We pride ourselves on our ability to tailor fire sprinkler solutions that seamlessly integrate with the existing architecture, ensuring both safety and aesthetic integrity. We minimise disruption to both residential and commercial building access.

At Base Fire Sprinklers, our expertise in designing, installing, and maintaining these systems ensures each project meets specific building needs and complies with UK safety standards. Our designers and installers, equipped with advanced tools like AutoCAD, can navigate the challenges of installation in any building type.

What is a Water Mist System?

Mist fire suppression systems are a relatively new development in fire safety, intended to suit specific settings and requirements. These systems operate by emitting a fine mist, extinguishing fires by reducing oxygen levels, cooling the area, and limiting heat radiation. The proposed advantage lies in their reduced water usage, which is designed to minimise water damage in environments with sensitive equipment or valuable items. They're adaptable for various environments, including residential, commercial, and industrial spaces.

While the features of this system may seem attractive, there are a number of complications surrounding both the appropriateness of water mist systems and their specifications.For example, under the relevant regulations BS 8458 and BS 8489, watermist systems may be used to protect “hotel rooms and their access (only)”. Therefore, additional testing and approval would be required to deploy a watermist system throughout such a building. Components and systems must also be certified independently from each other, which may involve testing from a certified fire laboratory. These systems also often use electronic detection, which is not approved in many settings.

Are Water Mist Systems Better Than Fire Sprinklers?

When deciding between fire sprinklers and mist fire suppression systems, understanding their differences is crucial. Both systems have unique strengths, making them suitable for different environments and requirements.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

Fire sprinklers are renowned for their ability to control and often extinguish fires swiftly, making them ideal for larger spaces where immediate and substantial water deployment is essential. Water mist systems, while designed to suppress fires with less water, may not always be the appropriate choice due to the complexity and uncertainty in their standards and certification processes​​. Fire sprinklers, with their robust design, offer reliable protection, which can be tailored to minimise water damage, thereby equating the level of protection offered by mist systems.

Water Usage

While fire sprinklers typically use a greater volume of water compared to mist systems, the effectiveness and reliability of sprinklers often outweigh the benefits of reduced water usage, especially in light of the challenges in compliance and certification of water mist systems​​. If you are unsure of your water supply needs, use our Water Tank Size Calculator.

Installation and Maintenance

The installation of fire sprinkler systems, though extensive, brings with it a high degree of reliability and compliance with established standards. In contrast, water mist systems can pose challenges due to the evolving nature of their standards, leading to potential issues in both installation and long-term functionality​​.

Suitability for Different Environments

Fire sprinklers are the go-to solution for a vast array of properties, including industrial and residential buildings, owing to their proven track record and compliance with stringent standards. Water mist systems, while potentially useful in specialised settings like heritage buildings or data centres, face significant regulatory and standardisation issues, limiting their suitability and reliability​​.


At Base Fire Sprinklers, our focus is on providing systems that not only meet but exceed the required safety standards. We specialise in fire sprinkler systems, offering expert design, installation, and maintenance services. Our commitment is to deliver solutions that ensure maximum protection, tailored to the unique characteristics of your property.


Contact Base Fire Sprinklers

Choosing the right fire protection system is a crucial decision, and at Base Fire Sprinklers, we're here to guide you every step of the way.Our team has the expertise and experience to ensure your property is well-protected and compliant with UK fire sprinkler safety standards.

Don't wait until it's too late. Protect your property, assets, and most importantly, the lives of those within, with a reliable and efficient fire protection system. We are fire sprinkler design and fire sprinkler installation specialists based in Manchester, providing services across the North West and the UK. Our projects include design and installation of systems in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, and Warrington.

For a personalised consultation and to discuss the best fire protection solutions for your needs, contact us today. Let Base Fire Sprinklers be your partner in ensuring the safety and compliance of your property.

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