Fire Loss and the Built Heritage
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Fire has always been a threat to culturally valuable historic buildings and their surroundings. Building construction work, especially hot work and portable lighting, day to day activities, events and variable usage all create different degrees of risks. Smoking, lit candles, open fires and chimneys in poor condition are also responsible for starting many incidents.

Historic buildings are often built from easily- ignited materials. They can be located in isolated places, remote from fire stations, increasing travel time for the fire and rescue services to be deployed, allowing a fire to become established creating greater potential for considerable damage and cultural loss.

Undertaken during the period 2002-06, the intention of COST Action C17 “Built Heritage: Fire Loss to Historic Buildings” was to address the significant physical and cultural loss of Europe’s built heritage to the damaging effects of fire. The aim was to provide building owners and other interested parties with relevant guidance and meaningful advice.

Twenty Signatory Countries provided active representation from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Corresponding links were also established with the USA, Russia and Baltic Sea Countries. A unique and unsurpassed 16 related reports were delivered from the Action by 2008, with the following 13 now available on this section of the COTAC website:
But fire can also have devastating consequences in the modern built heritage, such as the Grenfell high-rise incident, with considerable loss of life, in June 2017. A presentation entitled “Grenfell: The Missed Opportunities” was delivered by Stewart Kidd of the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association to an Edinburgh Group meeting on 19 November 2018.

Regrettably, such high-rise building incidents are not unique, and this section of the website includes a copy of that presentation, together with an International Chronological List of Fire Incidents in High- rise Buildings 1986 – 2017.

Ingval Maxwell: COTAC, March 2020


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