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Fire Safety in Heritage Buildings

Historic properties and heritage buildings were generally built before fire safety regulations were put into place, and paired with traditional construction materials used, this can result in an increased risk of fire.


Research shows that thousands of historic buildings across the UK are at risk of fires due to owners not installing fire detection equipment, in order to conserve the appearance of the property.. Whilst protecting and preserving the beauty and historical significance of heritage buildings is paramount, fire safety is equally – if not more – important, but there is often an imbalance of the two.

Common causes of fires in historic buildings include:

  • Renovation and buildings work
  • Electrical faults
  • Outdated wiring
  • Flammable materials

Additionally, an increased presence of timber and space voids created from modifications (such as lifts and additional plumbing) can spread fires.

Whilst some of these risks cannot be mitigated with the help of fire safety equipment, there are measures that can be put into place to meet modern safety standards, helping to protect the building itself, the valuable and irreplaceable contents, and  people too.


Fire Risk Assessments

The first step to making heritage buildings fire safe  is to assess current hazards and suitable measures to take. This will highlight any potential fire risks and the action required.

Accessibility & Fire Escape Routes

Unconventional layouts of historical buildings often means limited space, so installation, repair and servicing fire safety equipment is difficult. Suitable escape routes require extra thought, with clear routes that allow people to leave safely and quickly should they need to. This may include the organisation of house contents and furniture – moving large items to new locations to make exits accessible for all.

Lighting & Signage

Once fire escape routes have been established, they need to be clearly identifiable. Fire exit signage must, therefore, be put into place. Although this will be prominent next to the historical decoration of heritage buildings, it is a necessity.

Wireless Fire Systems

Wireless systems are the ideal option for heritage buildings as they can be installed with the absolute least disruption possible whilst meeting standards. This is largely due to devices not being hardwired back to the control panel, avoiding the distribution or aesthetic compromises of cable containment.

Fully wireless systems like Zerio Plus do not even require cabling for their wireless infrastructure (unlike hybrid wireless systems).


Maintaining the historical integrity of old buildings whilst ensuring fire safety is challenging but essential. By implementing necessary risk assessments, managers can identify easy wins on how and where to increase safety practices. By actioning the necessary changes and installing a suitable fire detection solution, building owners and managers can mitigate the risk of fire and safeguard valuable homes and pieces.