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Fire represents one of the greatest threats to a historic property and in 2019 extensive improvements are underway to upgrade the protection to George Washington’s Mansion.

The core of the present-day Mansion was built mainly out of wood for Washington’s father, Augustine Washington, around 1734. The building was then significantly expanded for George Washington in the 1750s and 1770s. Today much of the 18th-century materials remain and preserving it is of the utmost importance.

There is a multilayer fire protection plan in place including Mount Vernon’s onsite fire department. After years of research, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association has decided to upgrade the fire protection system within the Mansion and adjacent structures.

This effort is being undertaken with the greatest care for this important site. To date, an extensive and detailed design engineering effort has been completed. Now some of the finest fire protection contractors are installing the system. When completed, fire safety for the buildings, their unique contents, and most importantly the visitors will be greatly improved for many years to come.

Water Mist Sprinkler System

The fire protection system that is being installed is a state-of-the-art water mist fire sprinkler system. This technology represents the latest in automatic fire control systems converting water drops into thousands of very tiny fine droplets. The average drop size is less than 100 microns or approximately 1/20th the thickness of a sheet of paper. This produces a dense cloud that directly attacks flames, prevents heat migration, and blocks smoke movement. Most fires can be controlled with less than 60 gallons of water converted to mist, which is substantially less than several hundred gallons required for conventional fire sprinklers and the thousands of gallons that may be applied by fire hoses.

Water mist fire suppression technology has its origin in maritime nations of Scandinavia to protect ships. It is the fire protection technology that safeguards most of the world’s passenger vessels, meaning if you have traveled on a modern cruise ship, ocean liner, or large ferry you were likely protected from fire by a water mist fire sprinkler system.

It is used in numerous cultural heritage properties throughout the world including the homes of presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson. It is very effective and the collateral damage from fire control is much lower than other choices. As a result, the facility can recover from a fire much faster and with substantially less effort and cost.

The system at Mount Vernon is manufactured by Marioff of Vantaa Finland, using components from the United States, Canada, and Europe. It consists of a filtered water supply and special pump system that boosts pressure to a point where minute water droplets can form. It is distributed throughout in a network of stainless steel tubes and fittings to an array of specially designed water mist nozzles. If a fire occurs, the nozzles closest to the fire will heat up and release to apply mist directly onto the fire. Fire control is expected within 2-3 minutes. It is an extremely durable system with a life expectancy greater than 100 years and the craftsman contractors of Fireline Incorporated are installing the system to the highest standards of integrity.