In a recent blog post, the franchise discussed the challenges of implementing fire safety processes in older buildings, the importance of doing so, and the ways to do so effectively.
A few weeks ago, Jackson Fire and Security reminded its readers, The Star Inn in North Yorkshire was “almost gutted after its thatched roof caught fire”. The 14th century listed building and Michelin-starred restaurant saw a lot of damage, and the news inspired the security franchise to explore the unique challenges of implementing fire safety procedures and solutions in heritage and listed buildings.
Most importantly, said Jackson Fire, “Balancing the need to preserve the historical aspects of listed or other heritage buildings with the requirement to keep the property, its contents and the people within it safe can be highly complex.” Adaptations for fire safety and fire detection are necessary, but “the building fabric needs to be preserved” where it can be. Modern buildings are designed from the off with fire safety understood and very much at the forefront, but for much older buildings, this isn’t the case.
In fact, “the materials used [in listed and heritage buildings] were often far more combustible than those used today” and “features like hidden voids” within buildings were more common, presenting “a substantial issue by enabling fires to spread rapidly undetected”.
With this knowledge in mind, an in-depth risk assessment is extremely necessary for listed and heritage buildings. This assessment should “factor in worst-case assumptions in terms of the maximum number of people in the building at a given time and any specific issues that might end up reducing the speed at which they could exit the building”.
Some things thrown up in the assessment will be easy enough to fix, like removing potential hazards, ignition sources and combustible materials (like curtains and drapes) and ensuring all electronics are PAT tested. Jackson Fire and Security also suggested that “protective measures might need to be considered to help reduce the identified risks”, even if they do, in some cases, have a “detrimental impact on the fabric of the building”.
There are ways to do this while minimising damage - choosing a wireless detector system over a wired system, for instance. Once the assessment is complete, it should also be reviewed on a regular basis, and most of all, the franchise recommends that professional support be brought in when managing the fire safety of a heritage or listed building - something Jackson Fire itself is extremely adept at. Find out more about this franchise via its profile page, linked above.
Lily Sweeney, Point Franchise ©