The government have recently commissioned reports that enquire into how major fires in historic buildings start. The key to a successful solution is in a comprehensive fire risk assessment that identifies the danger to both the life of its occupants and the property. Obviously every historic building is different and would need to undertake its own fire risk assessment independently, but there are some common themes that should always be adhered to in any fire strategy.
- Balancing the protection of historic artefacts with human life needs to be clearly defined and outlined in the assessment.
- The structural compartmentation of a building needs to be built into the fire plan strategy.
- A fire exit strategy should utilise the existing features of the property.
- The risk analysis should also show how to minimise the probability of a fire. It should focus on how artefacts are stored or displayed and how a fire would be managed if any of these were to ignite.
- The scheme must also focus on a design solution that reflects the existing fabric of the building. Any alterations that need to take place need to be done in a manner that is sympathetic to the historic value of the property although fire safety should always be paramount.
- It will not always be possible to upgrade doors and walls so that they provide a time delay for evacuation in this case fire suppression systems and sprinklers can be used.
- A fire risk assessment by a professional assessor will outline all hazards and tailor a plan that directly correlates to the building and its surroundings.