This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.
This dissertation looks into the various methods and systems that can be implemented in order to provide better fire resistance in listed buildings. The dissertation undertakes several main tasks as a part of understanding the various methods and systems that can be implemented in order to provide better fire resistance in listed buildings, including analyzing various case studies of fires in listed buildings, in order to see what happened and how these fires could have been prevented; undertaking a Literature Review to better understand the interventions currently used for providing fire resistance in buildings; undertaking an analysis of a case study of a listed buildings (Duff House in Banff) that have been subjected to fire resistance, in order to understand what was implemented and what worked in that particular building and why; and analyzing method statements for two suggested conversions of listed buildings in order to better understand the planning process and to understand the solutions suggested for improving fire resistance in these two listed buildings.
Chapter 1: Introduction
This Chapter will provide a general overview of the topic of fire resistance in listed buildings and will provide a list of the aims and objectives of the dissertation as a whole.
Section 1.1: Introduction
Fire is one of the chief threats to buildings, as it can cause high levels of damage in a short time (Pickard, 1994). Fire protection is generally used to prevent the outbreak of fires in buildings and to prevent the spread of fire within a building if a fire breaks out (Staniforth and Hayes, 1989). Dealing with fire protection in older buildings is problematic, however, as these buildings were not built with fire protection in mind and can be difficult to restructure, to be more fire proof, due to the building's structure and the prevailing regulations which often prevent the structure of listed buildings being changed in ways that are necessary to make them fire proof (Taylor, 2004). It is necessary, therefore, to think creatively about how to fire proof listed buildings and this dissertation aims to outline how this can be done and how this has been done, through the use of several methodologies, including case studies and a Literature Review.
Older buildings are usually classed as listed buildings, where listed building status means that the building then becomes subject to restrictions on what changes are allowed within the building, either to its structure or to its fabric, with the aim of preserving its historical authenticity (Pickard, 1994). This obviously makes fire proofing the building more difficult than for a non-listed building, due to the many restrictions that are placed on the alterations that can be made to the building (W.R. Dunn & Co., 2002). Listed building status means that not only the external structure of the building, but also its internal fabric, are subject to restrictions on what changes can be made, making it very difficult to incorporate fire proofing in to the building (Pickard, 1994). Fire protection can, therefore, be difficult to implement within the context of a listed building, and it is necessary for architects to think creatively, in collaboration with building regulations assessors and building conservationists, in terms of how to implement fire protection in such buildings (Wilson, 2006; Wahab, 2007).
Yet, listed buildings are precisely the buildings that need more protection, as they are generally made with high percentages of timber and other building materials that are vulnerable to fire, meaning that these buildings generally need high levels of fire protection. This problem is not a trivial one in the UK, with its many thousands of listed buildings, any of which, if destroyed by fire, would mean the loss of a large part of the UK's cultural heritage (Adams, 1997). As such, despite the problems that protecting listed buildings from fire can present, in terms of thinking creatively around the strict building regulations that apply to listed buildings, it is necessary to protect these buildings from fire, as far as possible, in terms of protecting the UK's cultural heritage. This is particularly important in light of the catastrophic damage that fire can cause in listed buildings, in view of the damage caused, in short time periods, in high profile fires such as those at Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace or the Savoy Theatre, for example.
Fire resistance is the term used to describe the use of interventions (such as building materials that are highly fire resistant or special doors and windows, for example) in buildings that are aimed at reducing or delaying the effects of a fire (English Heritage, 2004). These interventions are all subject to performance testing and in situ assessment, according to the dictates of the prevailing building regulations and the Fire Precautions Act (Adams, 1997). One major problem with listed buildings is that, usually, the materials used within the fabric of the building do not meet prevailing fire resistance standards and, therefore, aside from the fitting of additional interventions such as compartmentations and/or sprinklers, for example, it is often necessary to upgrade the materials used in the building in order to meet the prevailing ratings and standards (Pickard, 1994). This, however, involves some compromise, as there is a duty, in listed buildings, to preserve the original structure and architecture of these buildings (Adams, 1997; English Heritage, 2004). The issue of fire resistance in listed buildings is, thus, complex and merits an investigation such as that proposed in this dissertation.
In summary, then, as Kidd (2003) argues, fire is the greatest single threat to our built heritage as it can, once there is a fire within a listed building, rush through the building in a short time, destroying the fabric of the building and all of the history contained therein: its primary impact is, therefore, the potential loss of historical authenticity which is part of the cultural heritage of the UK (Kidd, 2003; Pickard, 1994). Whilst building conservationists can repair the damage done, to some extent, recreating copies of destroyed buildings, or parts of buildings, loss of the original parts of the building, or loss of the entire building means part of our cultural heritage is lost (Kidd, 2003; Read and Morris, 1993). It is clear, therefore, in terms of fire protection, that all legal requirements must be complied with, via meeting the relevant statutory obligations and dealing with the recommendations of the local fire service, in an attempt to maintain the building fire free and to retain the cultural heritage the building represents (Kidd, 2003; Clark, 2001).
As Kidd (1998) argues, attention was drawn to the complex issue of fire protection in listed buildings following the Hampton Court Palace fire, which led to the setting up of the UK Working Party on Fires in Historic Buildings. This became all the more important an issue following the Windsor Castle Fire, in which the resulting problems seem to have been compounded because the procedures followed by staff were not in accordance with the laid down procedures, because extinguishers failed to work and because the fire spread due to a lack of compartmentation, amongst other issues (Kidd, 1998; Clark, 2001).
These issues, which amount to an overall lack of understanding of the need for fire protection for listed buildings, and a lack of understanding of how best to fire proof listed buildings, have led to other, high profile, fires, such as the fires at York Minster and at Hampton Court Palace (Kidd, 1998). All of these fires highlight the need for adequate and appropriate fire precautions in heritage buildings of all sizes and uses (Kidd, 1998) and, as will be discussed in the next section, it is the purpose of this dissertation to assess the currently available methods and systems for implementing better fire protection in listed buildings, in order that listed buildings, and the cultural heritage they contain, can be better protected, for this and future generations.
Section 1.2: Aims and Objectives
The main aim of this dissertation is to look into the methods and systems that can be implemented in order to offer better levels of fire resistance in listed buildings, with a view to improving fire protection and decreasing the chances of listed buildings being damaged in whole, or in part, by fire.
In order to fulfill this main aim of the dissertation, several objectives will need to be met, including:
- Undertaking an analysis of various case studies of fires that have occurred in listed buildings, including the fires at Weston Super Mare Pier, Windsor Castle and the Savoy Theatre.
- Undertaking a Literature Review in order to better understand the current solutions for providing fire resistance in buildings
- Undertaking an analysis of case studies of listed buildings (including Duff House in Banff) that have been subjected to fire resistance, with a view to understanding what worked in that particular building and why
- Analyzing method statements for proposed fire resistance alterations in listed buildings, the conversion of Bishop Percy's house in to residential dwellings and the conversion of The Boardroom House on The Square, in Mere, Wiltshire, in order to provide a better understanding of the planning application process and the possible solutions for fire resistance suggested in these two case studies.
The methodologies that were used to meet these four objectives are given in the next Chapter, Chapter 2, the Methodology section.
Chapter 2: Methodology
This Chapter will outline the methodologies that were used in order to gather the information that forms the basis of this dissertation, including a Literature Review and case studies.
As has been argued in the Introduction to the dissertation, fire protection is important in listed buildings in terms of helping to avoid fires in listed buildings and preserving the cultural heritage that listed buildings represent. Yet, this is no easy task, given the rigidity of the building regulations and the need to make amendments to listed buildings within the framework of the prevailing building regulations, which, generally, prevent any major changes being made to the structure of listed buildings (Adams, 1997).
Firstly, accounts of various fires that have occurred in listed buildings were assessed, including the fires at Weston-Super-Mare Pier, Windsor Castle and the Savoy Theatre. This was undertaken with a view to increasing knowledge of how fires can spread within listed buildings and understanding the current use of fire protection in listed buildings. In order to find information on the fires that occurred in these three listed buildings, an internet search was undertaken to be able to locate relevant information. Where necessary, recommended books were sought from the library and read, with a view to understanding how the fire began, how the fire spread and what was recommended, as a result of the fire, in terms of better fire protection for these three listed buildings. The results of this analysis are presented in Chapter 3.
Next, in order to understand what solutions are available for providing better fire resistance in listed buildings, a Literature Review was undertaken with the aim of developing a better understanding of the possible solutions for fire resistance in listed buildings. The Literature Review allows the gathering of information from various sources, including relevant textbooks, journal articles, magazine articles, the internet and various organizations aimed at providing information on fire resistance in listed buildings.
In order to undertake the Literature Review, firstly, the library's online catalogue was searched with relevant key words (such as 'fire protection in listed buildings' and 'fire resistance in listed buildings', amongst others) in order to find relevant textbooks. These were then searched and read where applicable, in order to provide a broader understanding of the topic as a whole. This was then followed up with a similar search of the relevant online bibliographic databases, with the aim of retrieving relevant journal articles, the abstracts of which were then read in order to filter the most relevant articles for use in the writing of the Literature Review section of the dissertation. Around a dozen relevant articles were selected, as highlighted in the References section and as discussed in the Literature Review chapter. Next, an online search was undertaken, using Google, using the same key word combinations, in order to find any relevant, extra, information, from key organizations working in this field, for example.
Based on this information selected through this Literature Review process, the Literature Review section of the dissertation was then written, using the most relevant information found as the basis for a review section, highlighting the possible solutions for providing fire resistance in listed buildings. The Literature Review is presented in Chapter 4 of the dissertation.
Next, in Chapter 5, case studies are presented of various listed buildings that have been subjected to fire resistance, including Duff House in Banff. The use of case studies such as this allows the dissertation to explore, in more detail, exactly how fire resistance has been implemented in some listed buildings, highlighting the exact steps taken to provide fire resistance in some listed buildings.
Finally, Chapter 6 will present the analysis of two method statements for two listed buildings: the conversion of Bishop Percy's house in to residential dwellings and the conversion of The Boardroom House on The Square, in Mere, Wiltshire. As listed Building applications are submitted to planning authorities as separate applications to ordinary planning applications, the method statements that are provided as part of applications can be very useful in terms of explaining how, exactly, fire resistance is suggested in these particular buildings. This Chapter thus not only provides an opportunity for understanding the planning process a little better but also for seeing, in detail, what fire resistance measures were suggested in these method statements.
Chapter 3: Case studies of fires in listed buildings
Section 3.1: Introduction
This Chapter will provide various case studies of fires that have occurred in listed buildings, including a discussion of the fires at Weston Super Mare Pier, Windsor Castle and the Savoy Theatre. The main aim of this Chapter is to see what happened during the fires and how these fires could have been prevented.
Section 3.2: Weston-super-Mare Pier
As discussed in Tibbetts (2008), Weston-Super-Mare Pier, a Grade II listed Pier over one hundred years old, was engulfed by fire in July 2008. It is thought that the fire started in a staff canteen area, perhaps from a pan of hot oil, although later investigations returned a verdict of 'unknown cause' (BBC, 2008). It is known that the fire alarm at the end of the Pier was triggered around seven hours before the fire services arrived to control the blaze (BBC, 2008), but that, as it was not an automatic alarm, and as no-one answered the emergency call from the fire alarm, the fire could not be contained when the fire services arrived and, eventually, the fire consumed the whole Pier.
It seems, therefore, that the fire began as a result of human error, although this has not been confirmed, and that the onset of the fire was not noticed by fire services, or anyone else, as the fire alarm system in place on the Pier was not working properly. There is, therefore, a case to be made, here, for the utility of automatic fire alarm systems, in conjunction with fire suppression system, which would have ensured that the fire was immediately quashed. The largely timber frame of the Pier did not help, in that the fire, unnoticed at its initiation, ran through the timber-framed structure, largely without compartmentation, meaning that the fire's spread was intense and of high speed. It is likely that the fire would not have been stopped, given this, even if the fire services had arrived earlier (BBC, 2008).
All in all, then, the fire could have been prevented, or at least better controlled, if better fire protection measures had been in place. The use of pans of oil in a reduced, timber-framed, space is not advisable and could have been prevented if an adequate and up-to-date fire safety manual had been in use at the Pier. The alarm system in place was, essentially, useless and the fire could have been noticed, and dealt with at a much earlier stage, if an automatic fire alarm system had been installed. This, coupled with an automatic fire suppression system, would have gone some way to containing, or lessening, the fire's impact. It is clear, therefore, that a series of faults contributed to this fire, all of which could have been identified by a fire risk assessment and a more responsible attitude to fire protection.
Section 3.3: Windsor Castle
As Napier (2008) discusses, the fire at Windsor Castle started in the Queen's Private Chapel and spread throughout the State Apartments, causing millions of pounds in damage to these buildings. It is thought that the fire started in the Queens Private Chapel, with the automatic fire alarm system alerting guards that a fire had broken out in that area (BBC, 1992). The fire quickly spread to other areas of the Castle and spread back to the site of the origin of the fire, as there was not sufficient compartmentation in the Castle to prevent the fire spreading (BBC, 1992). In addition, there was no automatic fire suppression system, as it had been decided that its installation, and activation, could damage the important historic interiors (Napier, 2008).
As with the Weston-Super-Mare Pier fire, then, the Windsor Castle fire ended up being worse than it could have been because the fire protection systems in place were inadequate once faced with a real fire. Adequate compartmentation would, for example, have stopped the spread of the fire, as would an automatic fire suppression system (i.e., a sprinkler system). That a Royal household did not have these precautions in place, given that it is a repository of some of the UK's most treasured pieces of art and heritage, is a travesty: that this fire led to the issue of the revision of fire protection in listed buildings being taken seriously via documents such as Sir Alan Bailey's report in to the fire at Windsor Castle is, however, a silver lining to this tragedy.
Section 3.4: The Savoy Theatre
The 1990 fire at the Savoy Theatre destroyed the whole interior of the theatre (a Grade II listed building), aided, it is thought, by the fire traveling through voids provided by the air ducts and ventilation systems in place in the theatre. Adequate compartmentation of the theatre and the Savoy Hotel luckily led to the containment of the fire within the theatre, meaning that it did not spread to the Hotel.
In contrast to the two fires already looked at, at the Weston-Super-Mare Pier and Windsor Castle, fire protection systems, such as the compartmentation of the theatre from the Hotel, meant that the fire was contained. Had better fire protection systems been in place, such as making the voids more fire resistant, however, it can be argued that the fire would not have been so devastating and that the not so much of the theatre would have been destroyed. The theatre thus suffered because of inadequate fire protection systems it had in place (i.e., no fire resistance in the voids and no automatic fire suppression system) but the Hotel was saved from fire by the compartmentation of the Hotel from the Theatre. It seems, therefore, that, as in the other two case studies, compromises were made, with regards to fire protection, perhaps because of financial limitations or perhaps because of some other reason: it is clear, however, that fire does not understand limitations placed on buildings by such compromises.
Section 3.5: Summary
In summary, this Chapter has reviewed three case studies of fires in three high profile listed buildings, showing major failings in fire protection in the three listed buildings. This information has been useful in terms of highlighting the fundamental need for adequate fire protection, from fire risk assessment to the installation of appropriate fire protection methods. These case studies have therefore served to inform as to the holistic nature of fire protection in listed buildings: it is not something that can be attempted in isolation, and needs to begin with a risk assessment to really understand the risks that are present and how these can be dealt with. Once this risk assessment has been carried out, it is then up to the owners to decide what level of fire protection they will implement, whether this be just ensuring human life is protected or ensuring total protection for the entire listed building. These issues, and others, will now be discussed in subsequent Chapters.
Chapter 4: Literature Review
Section 4.1: Introduction
This Chapter will provide an outline of the interventions that are currently used for providing fire resistance in building, including a discussion of active and passive fire protection methods and how, practically, the decisions are made as to which fire protection methods should be used, via fire risk assessments and in line with the prevailing building regulations which can make fire protection difficult in listed buildings.
Section 4.2: Literature Review
As discussed in the Introduction, listed buildings were built without regard for fire protection or methods for preventing the spread of fire: as such, many of these listed buildings are vulnerable to fire. Due to the invaluable nature of these buildings, in terms of the UK's cultural heritage, and following several high profile fires in listed buidings, it is being increasingly recognized that listed buildings need better fire protection. This needs to be implemented, however, with the framework of the prevailing building regulations, which, for listed buildings, can be strict, as they are aimed at preserving the authenticity of the fabric of listed buildings (Adams, 1997). This section will look at the possible solutions suggested for implementing fire protection in listed buildings, via a review of the relevant literature.
As Napier (2008) suggests, for example, using risk assessments of the potential for fire and the most apt fire safety measures, whilst not offering any real fire resistance per se, can allow fires to be detected quicker, meaning that a) the authenticity of listed buildings is not compromised, as their structure does not need to be altered in order to undertake a risk assessment and b) that building regulations are not compromised (Adams, 1997). These interventions do not, however, as has been identified, provide any fire protection, rather just an opportunity to avoid fires, as far as possible, and to identify any fires as quickly as possible, if a fire does break out.
As Napier (2008) argues, however, in order to not compromise the historic authenticity of the building, and in order to reduce costs and to stay in line with the prevailing building regulations, it is sometimes necessary to manage the risk, rather than make alterations aimed at active fire protection (Clark, 2001). As Napier (2008) states, "the way the risk has been handled can affect the(ir) character (of listed buildings)": sometimes it is not necessary, or desired, to move in to a building to implement active fire protection measures, such as compartmentation or adding sprinkler systems, and sometimes, therefore, passive protection measures are the most appropriate ones to implement.
As Napier (2008) discusses, prior to any works beginning on a listed building, with regards to improving fire protection via internal alterations, improvements or changes of use, a fire risk assessment should be undertaken. This should, ideally, thoroughly assess the following aspects of the listed building: what the vulnerable elements of the building's fabric are; whether the existing layout of the building would allow people to escape satisfactorily, in the event of a fire; what are the means people could use to escape, in the event of a fire; whether the current fire control, detection, and alarm systems are working and are adequate for the needs of the building; whether a fire suppression system would be beneficial if installed; and what would the installation of a fire suppression system entail in terms of the necessary changes to the building and whether these would be within the framework of the prevailing building regulations (Napier, 2008). Once this risk assessment has been undertaken, the architect has a better understanding of where the building's vulnerabilities lie, with respect to fire, and to ensuring the health and safety of its inhabitants/users and can, then, act to make the necessary improvements, within the framework of the prevailing building regulations (Adams, 1997).
As Napier (2008) discusses, in addition to the comprehensive risk assessment procedure, thorough checking of the building for combustible materials should also be undertaken. Fires are most usually caused by human error, such as burning candles, or using electrical devices inappropriately: as such, the sensible use of such devices, and education of the inhabitants/users of listed buildings could improve fire management in listed buildings, minimizing the danger of fire breaking out (Napier, 2008; Forrest, 1996). In addition, the regular checking of electrical appliances can also minimize the incidence of outbreaks of fire, as can the regular removal of rubbish and the regular removal of birds nests that might have accumulated in the buildings cavities and dust that might have accumulated in floor and roof voids: removing all of these potential sources of fire and potential sources of fire propagation can notably reduce the risk of an outbreak of fire (Napier, 2008; Gibbon and Forbes, 2001).
As Napier (2008) argues, though, undertaking a comprehensive risk assessment and manually checking, and removing, for combustible materials within the fabric of the building will only reduce the risk of a fire breaking out and will not help if a fire does break out. Thus, as Napier (2008) discusses, it is important to check the existing structure of a listed building in order to identify all openings, flues and voids within the structure (such a vertical ducts for piping or ill-fitting doors) that could provide potential routes for the spread of fire. Once such voids have been identified, these voids should, as part of the recommendations of the risk assessment process, be closed with tight seals made with materials, such as mineral wool quilt, that provide fire resistance (Napier, 2008; Gibbon and Forbes, 2001).
Fire breaks should be checked, also, and replaced or implemented where necessary: as Napier (2008) argues, although many buildings will have existing compartmentation, which can help to delay the spread of a fire, building regulations for listed buildings might require additional compartmentation, in situations where a change of use is being suggested, for example, or in terms of the risk assessment undertaken, which may have suggested the need for extra compartmentation, as a method for reducing the risk of a fire spreading once it has broken out. It is, at times, therefore unavoidable that amendments and adjustments will need to be made to listed buildings in terms of ensuring they are fire resistant (Gibbon and Forbes, 2001).
As Napier (2008) acknowledges, however, improving the fire resistance of a listed building can, and often does, impact on its character, especially because listed buildings were generally not built in the modern way, not using modern materials: instead of ceilings, for example, in some listed buildings, all that lies between the floors are floor boards, laying on floor joists. This can provide opportunities for the spread of fire, and, in order to improve the building's fire resistance, several alterations would be suggested, including underlining the floor joists with plasterboard and adding a layer of mineral wool quilt (Napier, 2008; Gibbons and Forbes, 2001). This would, however, change the character of the ceiling and the floors and suggested alterations such as this would, therefore, need to be approved via the planning application for alterations to the listed building, as laid out in the prevailing building regulations. This will be discussed further in Chapters 5 and 6, which will look, in detail, at case studies of how fire resistance has been implemented, or are suggested for implementation, in several listed buildings.
It is sufficient to say at this stage that implementing better fire resistance in listed buildings is a delicate, complex, matter, that needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis, assessing the prevailing risks and making assessments of how best to minimize the chance that these risks cause a fire, within the framework of maintaining the integrity and authenticity of the original structure and fittings of the listed building.
Historic paneled doors are another area of contention when thinking about improving fire resistance in listed buildings as these doors are usually constructed from hardwoods, with thin panels that pose immense risks with regards to fire, as these doors do not provide the statutory 30 minutes of fire resistance (Napier, 2008; English Heritage, 2004). There are several solutions to this problem, the simplest being to fit some form of fire-resisting board over the door but, as this would change the appearance of the door, this is not acceptable in terms of the prevailing building regulations and would most likely be rejected in the planning application (Napier, 2008; Adams, 1997).
Other solutions thus need to be found, as discussed in Napier (2008), including adding fire protection inside the paneled doors or making new paneled doors from fire-resistant materials (perhaps thicker slices of the original wood, for example, which would provide more minutes of fire resistance). Again, these examples show how complex and delicate providing improved fire resistance is in listed buildings: the possible solutions found, for the risks identified, are more often than not a compromise between the various parties involved in the planning application and the implementation of the improvements, all of which takes place within the framework of controlling the costs involved.
For this reason, then, many such projects prefer to implement more passive fire protection systems, such as those mentioned previously: fire detection systems, for example, with the warning and suppression systems being selected in order to minimize any changes to the structure/fabric of the building (Napier, 2008). There are various passive fire protection systems available, which cater to a range of budgets and a range of situations, including: smoke detectors which can be extremely sensitive at detecting smoke in the air; flame detectors which alert the presence of the fire; and projected beam detectors that rely on interruptions in an infra-red beam of light to trigger the alarm (Napier, 2008). All of these can be fitted with (comparatively) minimal cost and disruption to the fabric of the building, especially as many of these detectors now have wireless capability and so can be fitted without the need to run wires through the walls of the building (Napier, 2008; Clark, 2001).
In conjunction with fire detection systems, such as those mentioned above, in order to stop the fire spreading, once it has started, as part of a passive fire protection system, some form of fire suppression system needs to be installed. Such fire suppression systems range from hand-operated or portable extinguishers to sprinklers that are designed to provide localized suppression and to stop the spread of the fire (Napier, 2008; BAFSA, 2002). As Napier (2008) argues, there is a strong case for using fire suppression systems in vulnerable historic buildings, especially as these systems can mean that less alterations need to be made to the fabric of the building and as these systems can provide additional 'back up' protection to potentially vulnerable parts of the building (such as a door that is not quite thick enough to provide fire resistance, for example). The relatively low cost of such systems is also attractive in many cases.
For this reason, The National Trust for Scotland installed a sprinkler system in many of their properties (Napier, 2008). This system was decided upon as it was the option that best allowed for the conservation of the structure of the buildings and was the most cost effective option, in that its installation did not require other improvements in fire resistance to be made (Napier, 2008). As Napier (2008) argues, fire protection in listed buildings begins, fundamentally, with assessing, and managing, sources of risk and then, where necessary, providing improvements/installing systems to ensure that the fire resistance of the building is improved (Clark, 2001). This is usually undertaken on the basis of minimizing the structural changes to the building and minimizing the cost, as far as possible, of undertaking major changes to the structure of the building, because of the tight building regulations governing changes to listed buildings and the usually tight budget for such works (Adams, 1997).
As has been seen, Napier (2008) favours passive fire management as compared to active fire protection measures. Other authors, to be looked at in detail later, argue, however, that active fire protection measures are more useful and represent more responsible ways of dealing with the threat of fire, not only in terms of conserving the UK's cultural heritage, as embodied in our listed buildings, but also in terms of saving human lives if fire did break out in one of our listed buildings. PACE (2000) highlight the following list of risks in the outbreak of fire in a listed building, placing them in order of importance and suggesting how risk should be assessed in listed buildings: "life safety; loss of the building of part of the building and its contents; consequential losses, such as revenue losses in listed buildings open to the public; national and strategic importance of the building; and the scheduled or listed status of the building" (PACE, 2000).
Given this, then, although improvements in fire protection in listed buildings have to take place within the prevailing building regulations that apply to listed buildings, it is, when undertaking risk assessments, considered more important to save human lives than to respect the listed status of the building. For this reason, and as will be discussed now, it is preferred, in many cases, to implement active fire protection measures as part of improvements in fire resistance in listed buildings, as it is felt that these provide better protection, overall, both for human life, for the building itself and for its listed status.
As Jackson and Passey (1998) argue, there are many options that the owners of listed buildings can use to meet fire safety requirements, including active and passive measures. These measures include such things as installing fire detection systems and fire alarm systems, providing fire fighting equipment (such as fire extinguishers), providing fire suppression systems (such as sprinklers) and providing fire resistance, through physically changing the structure of the listed building to make its component parts more fire resistant and more able to resist fire (through compartmentation, for example) (Jackson and Passey, 1998; Clark, 2001).
Early warning of a fire can save lives and, for this reason, many inhabitants/owners of listed buildings install fire detection systems, often in addition to more active fire protection measures. Fire alarms can, for example, alert people to the presence of a fire and can warn them to evacuate the building but will do little to save the building in the event of a fire (Jackson and Passey, 1998). Coupled with a fire suppression system, such as sprinklers, however, the fire detection and suppression system can be effective in limiting the spread of the fire, especially when the type of sprinkler is matched, effectively, to the particular layout of the building in question(Jackson and Passey, 1998).
Utilizing these methods in conjunction with other methods, such as compartmentation, which is aimed at dividing the building in to distinct, individually fire resistant, zones, can provide effective fire protection, in terms of limiting the fire to a particular area of the building and, through this, stopping the spread of the fire (Jackson and Passey, 1998). Compartmentation effectively seals off different zones of the building, allowing sections of the building to be protected from fire by materials that should, by law, provide thirty minutes of fire protection (Jackson and Passey, 1998). Compartmentation can, however, mean that major changes need to be made to the structure of the building, which, as has been discussed with reference to Napier (2008) is often not acceptable in terms of the prevailing building regulations (Adams, 1997).
For this reason, then, many owners of listed buildings, in conjunction with planners and architects, decide to alter the existing structures to become more fire resistant. Flooring, for example, and doors, can be altered to become more fire resistant so that, in the event of a fire, a fire can be contained for longer and so the fittings will not be so badly damaged and, therefore, more easily repaired (Jackson and Passey, 1998). As Jackson and Passey (1998) discuss, it is possible to use a 4mm highly protective membrane as a ceiling lining, which can readily be over-decorated with a conventional lining paper and emulsion paint system, which can provide many more minutes of fire resistance than the original ceiling, without causing major changes to the structure of the building. The use of a material such as this would, however, have to be signed off in the planning permission application as the use of such materials could be argued to be in breach of the prevailing building regulations. Sealing voids can also provide an effective way of stopping the spread of fire, without damaging the historical integrity of the building, whilst providing the basis for compartmentation. Sealing voids can provide high levels of fire protection, especially when used in conjunction with other fire protection measures, such as compartmentation of other areas of the building, fire detection systems and fire suppression systems (Jackson and Passey, 1998). It is clear, then, that a combination of both active and passive fire resistance mechanisms is usually necessary, and usually implemented, in order to provide optimal fire protection in listed buildings, especially as this flexibility allows the fire protection to be fitted to the particular circumstances, in terms of the building under consideration and the prevailing building regulations. As Jackson and Passey (1998) state, "the intelligent use of modern materials in the full understanding of their limits of application can mean that fire protection is far easier to achieve than in the past".
Yet, as Forrest (1996) argues, changing the character of a building to make it more fire resistant can go against building regulations, which can mean that passive measures, such as risk assessments, can be more appropriate in certain cases. Generally, however, listed buildings which have a great deal of human thoroughfare, such as listed buildings that are open to the public (such as Chatsworth House or any of the myriad of National Trust or English Heritage properties), are more likely to be subject to active fire protection measures, in order to protect human lives, whereas private listed residences are more likely to employ risk assessment measures with low-level passive fire protection systems, such as fire detection and fire suppression systems, in line with the requirements of the insurance company. The actual suite of fire protection measures implemented thus depends, very much, on the use the building is subjected to, the prevailing building regulations and the preferences of the owners of the building.
Yet, as Forrest (1996) argues, many more individuals can end up having a say in the fire protection measures implemented, especially in public buildings, including fire protection officers (who are mainly concerned with ensuring that the necessary standards are achieved in terms of providing the necessary means of escape and fire fighting equipment) and building conservationists (who are concerned with preserving the fabric of the building, through trying to avoid, where possible, intrusion for the purposes of improving fire protection). As Forrest (1996) argues, however, the owner of the building is bound, mainly, by their legal obligations to make their building fire proof within the framework of the prevailing building regulations and relevant fire safety standards.
As Forrest (1996) discusses, the fire safety standards that are set forth in the current building regulations apply to building work only, but they can affect existing buildings on which 'material alterations' have been undertaken, which generally means anything that involves major changes to the structure of the building, such as installing/improving compartmentation, for example (Clark, 2001). The standards also apply where there is a 'material change of use' to a listed building, such as conversions or sub-divisions, for example (Forrest, 1996). This can mean that owners of listed buildings are discouraged from undertaking fire protection improvements in their building, for fear of attracting high costs, in terms of ensuring that all materials used comply to prevailing fire safety standards and that any modifications undertaken to the structure of the building have been done in line with the prevailing building regulations (which can be costly in terms of employing building conservationists and specialized contractors). This, therefore, elicits a dilemma, in that listed buildings should be fire proofed, in terms of protecting the nation's heritage but that many private listed buildings are, by virtue of the owners trying to save costs, not adequately protected against fire.
For this reason, then, passive fire protection measures are, again, often preferred by private owners of listed buildings, with risk assessments being preferred, for example, to the use of fire detection systems and fire suppression systems (Forrest, 1996). A comprehensive fire safety review, as has been discussed, can lead to potentially dangerous areas of the building being identified and these being addressed with a view to minimizing, as far as possible, the risk of a fire breaking out. As Forrest (1996) states, "...having identified and quantified fire risk, the basis of fire safety design must be defined, always taking into account the requirement to satisfy life safety issues, and to balance property protection issues against physical intrusion". The key to fire protection in listed buildings is tailoring solutions to the particular situation: either passive or active fire protection systems will work but need to be well thought through and well fitted to the risk assessment conducted, in addition to being fitted to the prevailing fire safety standards and building regulations.
As Forrest (1996) argues, it may well be that a fire suppression system, such as a sprinkler system, is the best overall solution for fire protection in listed buildings, but this system is only effective if the time between the detection of the fire and the opening of the sprinkler system is very short. Once the best solution has been identified it, thus, needs to be tailored to the exact situation presenting in order to ensure that it will work optimally, in practice, in that particular situation. In addition, it is not possible to provide blanket solutions to fire protection in listed buildings: as Forrest (1996) states, "as part of the development of a fire plan strategy for any historic or listed building, the definition of risk, occupiers' priorities and conservation issues are paramount. The fire strategy consists of various contributory elements including the natural or existing building features and the degree to which more onerous passive upgrading can be offset by the introduction of active protection measures".
In summary, then, there are a variety of measures that can be undertaken in order to provide fire resistance in listed buildings, all of which are based on introducing better fire protection to listed buildings. These include, amongst others, risk assessments, fire detection systems, fire suppression systems, compartmentation and making existing structures/fittings more fire resistant. As has been made clear, the selection of the particular suite of fire protection measures will depend on many factors: the usage of the building (with buildings with high human thoroughfare being more likely to employ more complex fire protection measures); the prevailing building regulations; the actual physical layout, and condition, of the building; the amount of money available for the fire protection improvements; and the conditions laid down by the insurance company for insuring the building, amongst others. The solution that is found, for improving fire protection in listed buildings, thus very much depends on the individual listed building: fire protection solutions need to be tailored to individual listed buildings and cannot be applied in a blanket manner across all listed buildings. This will be highlighted in the next Chapter, which will provide a case study of an adaptation of a listed building (Duff House in Banff) in order to improve fire resistance.
Chapter 5: Case study of an adaptation of a listed building to improve fire resistance: Duff House
Kidd (2003) presents information about a fire resistance assessment made at Duff House in Banff. Duff House, constructed by William Adam in 1754, was neglected for much of the 20th century until, in 1990, a partnership of local and national organizations was set up to refurbish the building with a view to turning it in to a national art gallery. As part of this refurbishment, fire precautions were analyzed in detail in terms of ensuring that the House was protected, as far as possible, from fire, given its listed status, its new, extremely valuable contents and the number of visitors that were expected to pass through its doors once it opened as a museum (Kidd, 2003).
As explained in Kidd (2003), a fire risk assessment was undertaken on the building and it was recommended that the following changes were made to the building: risk reduction, and control, to minimize the possibility of a fire, including cleaning the roofs, guttering and under-flooring areas regularly to remove any built-up dust and/or other combustible matters; to upgrade the fire barriers in place in the building in order to contain fire to its zone of origin for at least 30 minutes; to upgrade the escape routes to provide better escape possibilities for visitors in the event of a fire trapping visitors within the building; t install a smoke detection system, with air sampling; to install a dry riser; to install an automatic sprinkler system linked to the smoke detection system; and to provide greater security against possible arson attacks (Kidd, 2003).
Following viewing of the recommendations of this fire risk assessment, however, there was some disagreement as to what should happen amongst the partnership who intended to turn the House in to a national art gallery. The partnership decided there were three main options: i) to do nothing and to leave the house as an empty shell; ii) to refurbish the building as a gallery but providing only the minimum fire safety measures required by law for life safety protection; iii) to follow the conclusions derived from the risk assessment and to implement all of the suggested safety measures in to the redevelopment of Duff House (Kidd, 2003).
It was decided that the last option would be followed with information from the risk assessment being used as a guide, and minimum impact on the interior architecture being caused, by the involvement of the local council, building conservationists and architects. This collaboration determined, for example, the type, choice and position of each sprinkler head, ensuring that they were placed sympathetically in each of the rooms and ensured that the compartmentation that was implemented was sympathetic to the original structure of the building (Kidd, 2003).
Duff House was eventually rebuilt, including all of the recommendations of the fire risk assessment, and is now a successful art gallery, attracting thousands of visitors each year. As Kidd (2003) argues, the application of modern fire protection engineering, informed by the thorough and detailed risk assessment, means that not only are the human visitors protected but also the works of art that the building houses, meaning that no part of the buildings usage was compromised in terms of safety. The renovation was so successful that Duff House was awarded an international award in recognition of its "innovative fire protection measures" (Kidd, 2003).
The case study of Duff House just goes to highlight how important, and valuable, fire risk assessments can be, in terms of showing what the risks are, how to combat these and giving different options for the owners of listed buildings in terms of only complying with the relevant statutory requirements or going above and beyond these to ensure that not only human life is safe but also the fabric of the building and its contents. It is clear from this analysis that fire protection in listed buildings is a complex matter, involving many players, each of whom comes from a different perspective, offers different viewpoints and different expertise and all of whom need to work together to ensure that listing buildings are as fire resistant as they are decided they need to be.
This case study also highlights the fact that not all listed buildings require the same fire protection measures and that the actual fire protection measures that will be used is based on a number of factors, including the use the building will be put to, the volume of human thoroughfare and whether the owners wish to comply only to the basic statutory requirements of providing life safety protection or whether they wish to, also, protect the actual listed building and its contents. If the building is for public usage, with a high volume of human thoroughfare but its owner was interested only in ensuring life safety and not providing comprehensive fire protection for the listed building, for example, then fire protection measures such as the installation of alarms and adequate fire escapes would be sufficient to acquire a fire certificate.
If the building is for public usage, with a high volume of human thoroughfare and its owner was also interested in ensuring life safety and providing comprehensive fire protection for the listed building, however, a more comprehensive suite of fire protection measures would be included in the fire protection. For example, the materials would be made more resistant, the building would be compartmentalized, fire alarm and detection systems linked to fire suppression systems would be implemented, all with the intention of not only saving human lives, in the event of a fire, but also saving as much of the listed building as possible in the event of a fire. The choice of fire prevention measures is, thus, very much dependent on the individual circumstances of the building, in terms of its usage and its owners inclinations for the level of fire safety chosen.
As Kidd (2003) argues, not all fire protection interventions are equally effective methods of ensuring fire resistance, especially for those interventions that work in concert with each other. For example, a fire alarm system is no good at preventing fire without a fire suppression system being linked up to it, otherwise, once the fire was detected, there would be no way to put the fire out, rendering the identification of the fire worthless. In addition, the particular fire prevention method put in place should always be 'fit for purpose' so that they help with protecting the building from fire, within the remit of the extent of protection desired: a sprinkler system will not, for example, be as effective as a whole system of compartmentation in terms of protecting the whole building from fire. If the owners of the building were, however, only prepared to pay for a sprinkler system, and were only required to fit a sprinkler system in terms of getting their fire certificate for the particular intended usage, then, in the event of a fire, the owners could not expect the sprinkler system to be as effective as a compartmentation system would have been in terms of isolating the fire to one particular area of the building.
In summary, as has been highlighted in this case study, all fire protection systems are useful for the particular purpose they are put: problems arise when people expect fire protection interventions to do more than their intended purpose. If, for example, the partnership responsible for the renovation of Duff House had not decided to implement the whole suite of recommended fire protection measures, then Duff House, and its contents, would have been left vulnerable to fire. Fire protection only works if the interventions implemented are fit for the purpose intended.
Chapter 6: Analysis of Method Statements
Section 6.1: Introduction
This Chapter will analyze method statements for two proposed conversions of two listed buildings, the conversion of Bishop Perry's House in to residential dwellings and the conversion of The Boardroom House in The Square, Mere, Wiltshire, with a view to better understanding the planning process and to understand the solutions suggested for improving fire resistance in these two listed buildings.
Section 6.2: The conversion of Bishop Percy's house in to residential dwellings
As highlighted in Balfours (2002), a Fire Officer was involved in conducting the fire risk assessment of Bishop Percy's House, who suggested, amongst other things, that doors and door fittings would need to be changed in order to improve their fire resistance and that the internal timber structure should be painted with intumescent pain in order to provide additional fire resistance to this structure. However, all of these recommendations meant sizeable changes to the internal structures of the House, which, according to the dictates of the Building Regulations for listed buildings, would have meant that the planning application would have been turned down. A Borough Conservation Officer was thus enlisted to ensure that the planning application went through and that the fire protection measures that could be implemented would be implemented (Balfours, 2002).
Various fire protection measures were suggested in the final method statement, including: providing adequate access, at the rear of the House, for the fire service; providing an adequate means of escape for the new residents, in the event of a fire, with no alterations to this escape once the planning permission was granted; providing lighting on the fire escapes; providing fire escape signs within the newly converted House; and to close any voids encountered during the conversion of the House (Balfours, 2002).
In addition, fire warnings would need to be included, in terms of both an automatic fire alarm system and a breakable glass fire alarm system; life protection should be permitted, with fire extinguishers and automatic fire alarms being preferred to a sprinkler system; fire fighting equipment, such as a wall-mounted house reel, would also need to be provided, as would external fire hydrants and water-based extinguishers, in a safe place outside the building (Balfours, 2002). In addition, a hot works permit was sought in the method statements for the conversion of Bishop Perry's House in to residential dwellings (Balfours, 2002).
As is made clear in Balfours (2002), the conversion of two sections of the house in to residential dwellings could compromise the architectural integrity of the listed building and so, aside from the recommended changes in terms of fire protection, which would change the fabric of the building somewhat, some doubt was cast over the feasibility of the actual suggested work, in terms of the prevailing building regulations.
By using Document 'B' of the 2000 Building Regulations, however, it seems that the concerns were overcome, in conjunction with the Borough Conservation Officer, as it was suggested that the following fire protection measures should be implemented in to the project in order to gain planning permission: the implementation of a discrete modern wireless automatic fire alarm system; the addition of 12.5mm plasterboard to the ceilings; sealing doors with intumescent sealant; providing new doors, where appropriate, with a one hour fire resistance capacity; painting walls with intumescent paint; stopping all voids with appropriate materials, especially those from adjoining properties; and providing adequate escape facilities that are well sign-posted (Balfours, 2002).
It was clear, from reading the method statements, that a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the fire protection needs of Bishop Percy's House was undertaken by several independent people: Balfours, the fire protection officer and the Borough Conservation Officer in order to a) provide a fire risk assessment of the property pre- and post-conversion and to b) ensure that the building was fire resistant post-conversion and to c) ensure that the suggested fire protection interventions were made in line with the prevailing building regulations. This collaborative approach ensured that the majority of the suggestions of the fire officer, following his fire risk assessment, were made, within the bounds of the building regulations, as guided by the Borough Conservation Officer. The case study therefore highlights the collaborative nature of fire risk assessments and the ways in which compromises are reached, within the body of method statements, in order to ensure maximal fire protection within the bounds of the prevailing building regulations.
Section 6.3: The conversion of The Boardroom House on The Square, in Mere, Wiltshire
Salisbury Council (2008) provides a method statement for the proposed conversion of The Boardroom House on The Square, in Mere, Wiltshire, highlighting the desired changes and the fire concerns identified through a fire risk assessment. As highlighted in the document, turning the Boardroom House in to flats by horizontal subdivision leaves the building open to a risk of fire, as the floors will become party floors and, as such, will need extra insulation (Salisbury Council, 2008). In addition, the roof was found to be vulnerable, as it was not found to be composed of the original structures, perhaps as a result of repairs following a fire in 1671, meaning that the roof trusses need to be secured, and all voids sealed, in order to provide adequate fire resistance (Salisbury Council, 2008).
In addition, it was found that the walls, largely unaltered from their original state, needed painting with intumescent paint to make them fire resistant and that the floors needed additional joists to reinforce them and needed additional insulation to increase their fire resistance (Salisbury Council, 2008). The method statement, however, suggest that instead of repairing the existing floors, the floors should be replaced: it is not noted whether this suggestion was accepted by the Council, given the prevailing building regulations and given the listed status of the building (Salisbury Council, 2008).
The method statement for The Boardroom House on The Square, in Mere, Wiltshire is nowhere near as complete as the method statement for Bishop Perry's House, but it was still clear to see from this method statement that a great number of changes would be need to made to The Boardroom House in terms of improving its fire resistance, many of which, such as replacing floors and roof joists, were substantial and, therefore, were pending planning permission.
This method statement, similarly to that of the method statement for Bishop Perry's House, highlights the complex nature of undertaking a fire risk assessment on a listed building, in terms of knowing which parts of the building are original, which are not and what exactly can be done to ensure a higher level of fire resistance in the building. For this reason, Building Conservation Officers are usually involved in the fire risk assessment and the development of the consequent fire protection plan, as they are aware of both the need to maintain the integrity of the building's structures, via their knowledge of the building regulations, and also the need to accommodate the suggested fire resistance measures. Building Conservation Officers are, thus, an invaluable member of the collaborative team that is responsible for ensuring fire resistance in listed buildings.
Chapter 7: Conclusion
This dissertation has looked at the methods and systems that can be implemented in order to offer better fire resistance in listed buildings, with a view to improving fire protection and decreasing the chances of listed buildings being damaged in whole, or in part, by fire.
The dissertation had several main objectives, one of which was to analyze various case studies of fires in listed buildings (the Pier at Weston-Super-Mare, Windsor Castle and the Savoy Theatre) in order to understand what happened in the fire and how these fires could have been prevented, in terms of the installation of more appropriate fire protection systems. To this end, Chapter 3 reviewed three case studies of fires in three high profile listed buildings (Weston-Super-Mare Pier, Windsor Castle and the Savoy Theatre), showing major failings in fire protection in each of the three listed buildings.
The work presented in this Chapter highlighted the fundamental need for adequate fire protection, from fire risk assessment to the installation of appropriate fire protection methods. The work presented in Chapter 3 thus served to highlight the fundamentally holistic nature of fire protection in listed buildings: fire protection is not something that can be attempted in isolation as it needs to begin with a comprehensive fire risk assessment that allows a thorough understanding of the risks that are present and how these risks can best be dealt with. As discussed in Chapter 3, once this fire risk assessment has been carried out, and all the risks have been identified, it is then the owners decision as to what level of fire protection they will implement, whether this be just ensuring human life is protected or ensuring total protection for the entire listed building. It is then the responsibility of the owner to implement these fire protection measures within the framework of the prevailing building regulations in order to ensure that the authenticity of the building is retained.
Another objective of the dissertation was to undertake a Literature Review in order to better understand the interventions currently used for providing fire resistance in buildings. As was highlighted in Chapter 4, there are a variety of measures that can be undertaken in order to provide fire resistance in listed buildings, including risk assessments, fire detection systems, fire suppression systems, compartmentation and mak