It is of great importance to minimise the effects of a fire on listed buildings, especially those open to the public as there is a risk of injury as well as of losing a piece of history. There are long application processes to be gone through before a strategy can be agreed on that satisfies both the fire and building regulations, and with this in mind, we have a look at some of the more discreet methods of fire detection and prevention that would be ideal for listed buildings.
A real problem with making any changes to listed buildings, even if it is a preservation measure, is the requirement to retain the original character of the building. For both fire and theft, a wireless alarm is the best choice as it will not require the structure of the building to be too deeply disturbed in order to install them. They can be discreetly fitted into non-invasive places.
More sensitive alarms can also be chosen to allow fewer installations that will still cover a wide area.
Fire Escape Routes
Older buildings will probably not have been built with fire escape routes in mind, so a quick evacuation could be difficult to achieve. A fire risk assessment and formulation of an escape plan is, however, a legal requirement in any building that isn’t a domestic dwelling. It may not be possible to create an escape route without changing the layout of the building.
With this in mind, isolating a fire should be at the forefront of the plan. Smoke curtains are often used in busy modern buildings like department stores as they allow access through them for a quick escape, but keep smoke and fire isolated. The advantage of these over heavier shutters is that they are very discreet, which is relevant when considering installation in a listed building. When linked to a quality alarm system, the combination of early detection and then isolation of a fire will save lives and limit the damage done to the building.
Drafts and Smoke Detection
The high ceilings and long corridors of some listed buildings could cause increased air movement. This could cause some detection systems to be less sensitive than usual as the smoke from any developing fire would potentially be diluted by the draft. The placement of any detectors would therefore have to be carefully considered, as would the type – a mixture of smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors would increase the chances of a fire being detected.