Providing Fire Safety Solutions for Historic Properties
Fire safety is an incredibly important thing for listed and heritage properties. In the UK we are incredibly fortunate to boast over 400,000 listed properties. Whilst a number of these are now looked after by the National Trust, many of these are still privately owned. Included in the list of listed and heritage buildings are churches, castles, stately homes and abbeys.
Why is Fire Safety so Important at these Sites?
Fire safety is always so important but can vary in reasons. Most of the time fire safety measures are put in place to ensure safety to occupiers such as workers or residents of a building.
For some business’ or for listed properties, very special systems which can detect very early signs of fire are required to keep both the occupants and the property safe. Fire alarm and detection systems need to be custom designed to detect fire / smoke at the earliest opportunity and the quickest response from the authorities.
When many of these listed properties would have been built, fire safety would not have been a big consideration. Many of these buildings will have large open spaces, expansive wooden architrave and interior. Whilst this décor is beautiful and fitting for the time, it can be extremely flammable should a fire start.
What are the Challenges when Making these Properties Fire Safe?
These types of buildings can present all sorts of challenges when making them fire safe. Balancing the preservation and aesthetics with fire safety is essential.
Modern buildings are designed with safety and fire safety in mind. Back when these listed properties were designed and built there would have been little consideration for fire safety. The materials used are far more combustible and the design of the building can make it even less fire safe. Large open spaces can mean that fires can spread quickly within as well as big voids were fires could potentially go undetected.
As with any building a Fire Risk Assessment is necessary. Whilst most FRAs are looking at the preservation of life, these assessments will involve preserving the life and the property. This will include the building itself as well as artefacts or particularly historic parts of the building.
The fire risk assessment should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it remains relevant in keeping the building fire safe. Action should be taken if any changes are made, including the following:
-Any additional areas of the property are being used
-Storage of items has moved
-The property is being used more frequently or rooms have changed use
Any changes could mean an increased risk of fire and should not be ignored. Additionally, fire alarm / detection systems should be regularly maintained and reviewed to ensure that they are working effectively across the entire property.
Service & Maintenance
Servicing of the fire alarm in place should be carried out at least twice annually and in some cases it may be required to visit more frequently. It is important that either the property owners or the fire safety contractors speak with the insurance company to see what is required.
An issue that may arise, is when servicing the system. It is possible for bats to be present in a property of any age but in listed and heritage properties they are often in the roof space where there is fire detection requires to be tested. All bats are fully protected by law, meaning you are unable to impeded on their access to where they live. When carrying out the servicing on parts of a property with bats in place it is essential that a specialist is available to check that it is safe to enter the area.
As with any fire alarm system, weekly tests should be carried out and any faults reported immediately.
Why choose A.P.E?
Managing a fire safety system in a listed or heritage site is complex and needs to be handled by experienced professionals. These buildings must be looked after therefore many organisations and building owners choose professional installers to make their property fire safe.
At A.P.E, we have a great deal of expertise in the industry with over 45 years experience in fire safety systems. We are BAFE accredited for fire and already look after a collection of Grade I listed properties across the South West.