Notre-Dame Fire

Firerite reflects on Fire Risk Management for Heritage buildings.
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The devastating fire damage caused to the cathedral of Notre Dame earlier this week provided a dramatic visual illustration of the effect that a fire may have on a heritage building.

Although it is too early to speculate on the cause of the fire at Notre Dame it can be seen as an appropriate moment for the Fire Sector internationally to reflect on the management of heritage buildings in relation to fire risk management. Heritage buildings can provide many challenges for the responsible person in managing the building in relation to fire risk. Recognising how vulnerable these buildings can be is crucial to effective fire risk management;

• Design features such as timber floors and staircases, wood panelling, roof voids and extensive concealed cavities, original glazing and original doors and frames all require consideration when evaluating fire compartmentation within the building and how that compartmentation supports the escape strategy where appropriate.
• Identification of people at risk and how they evacuate when the alarm is raised.
• Provision of information and training of employees ensure that they will remain safe in an emergency within the building. Well trained staff tackling a fire in it’s earliest of stages will assist in fire damage limitation and service continuity on site.
• Identification, control and management of ignition sources and combustible materials play a significant part in managing the daily fire risk.

Close liaison with the fire and rescue service is essential and was put to good effect with the fire at Notre Dame. Where recognised important artefacts, works of art etc. are able to be removed safely and generally without damage in pre-arranged planning exercises that focus fire crews’ efforts on the priorities for removal of contents within the building.

A comprehensive fire safety policy and fire safety manual should be available, and arrangements should be made for planning, organisation, control , monitoring and review of fire safety measures specific to the building in question. Additional challenges are faced where there is construction or renovation work on site, the risk of fire is heightened, and appropriate measures should be introduced to reduce that risk.

Responsibilities for the management of fire risk in areas under renovation/ construction and those occupied will be captured within the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM Regulations). Measures to reduce the fire risk and enhance employee and public safety should be introduced to recognise the heightened fire risk.

The team at FireRite have a proven track record in supporting organisations that have responsibility for heritage building stock and are proud to work in partnership with CADW and the National Trust. We take pride in providing an excellent service that considers all of the factors above. 

We can provide the following services that will assist in effective fire risk management for your heritage building;

• Passive and Active fire protection
• Fire risk consultancy
• Fire risk assessments
• Fire strategies, policies and manuals
• Compartment survey reports
• Construction phase audits
• Fire training bespoke to your needs

If you need support on Heritage Buildings for Fire Safety Checks, Fire Risk Assessments, Fire Strategy Reports, Compartmentation Surveys, Active & Passive Fire Systems and Service/Maintenance, please get in touch. Call 029 2086 7222 or email

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