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Published on 29 Apr 2019

Our heritage is fragile - it must be protected!

Some considerations after the fire of a major world heritage site

Historic buildings are inherently atypical. Current fire protection measures are difficult to adapt to historic buildings, and solutions, often expensive, exist and are a matter for specialists. However, it is already possible to act at a lower cost.

Preventing fire means taking action before it's too late!

  • Carry out a fire risk analysis.
  • No open flames or heat sources near combustible materials!
  • Be especially careful when working on a building.  Demand a fire permit and strict compliance with safety measures by workers. Check for hot spots in the work area at every stop. Be even more vigilant in attics, technical spaces and unoccupied premises.
  • Give priority to the safety of electrical and heating installations.
  • Rapid intervention can limit the development of a fire to its initial source. Once the fire has developed and despite the action of the fire brigade, the damage will be considerable and the building may be lost.
  • Portable fire extinguishers and armed taps are useful. Train your staff to respond effectively without putting themselves at risk.
  • An early fire detection system is useful. Any detection signal should immediately trigger a reaction from those present (attempt to extinguish, call the fire brigade).
  • The presence of an extinguishing system is a plus. Different solutions are possible: dry columns, wet columns, dry or vacuum sprinkler systems, etc.
  • Wooden roofs are often one piece and not compartmentalised. Masonry or concrete supports and walls provide fire-resistant compartments, metal or concrete beams reinforce the existing wooden structure.
  • Works of art and valuable objects must be preserved! The implementation of a rescue plan is essential and allows a maximum number of works threatened by fire, smoke and water to be saved (see Fire Security Alert Magazine No. 14).

Intervening in an emergency cannot be improvised. It is essential to put in place and practise fire brigade intervention plans, internal emergency plans and procedures and a rescue plan for the works. They may not be enough to save the building or all the works, but they will certainly help to limit the damage and preserve our common heritage.

ANPI is following the evolution of the file and will inform you in the next issues of Fire & Security Alert Magazine.

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