Fire Safety Advice for Older Buildings

The UK is home to a wide range of stunning buildings, with the entire country full of architectural feats of brilliance and beauty. 

Often, it is the nation’s older buildings that are most aesthetically pleasing, and these days many of these properties have been converted into all kinds of venues. This includes theatres, hotels, offices and more. 

However, these older buildings can often pose additional or different fire safety problems and hazards compared to modern properties.

In this article, our team here at Millennium Fire Protection will outline some advice for older building fire safety, explaining what to look out for and how you can keep everyone within the property safe. 

What are the fire safety risks of older buildings? 

Older buildings may not have been designed or built with the same level of focus on fire safety that we have today.

With this in mind, when conducting a fire risk assessment it is important to consider if any of the following additional risks could impact the building you are working in.

  • Flammable artefacts – Sometimes, older buildings will still contain artwork, furniture, fabrics and rugs that may date back to when the building was built. Often, these artefacts are likely to be highly flammable and so need to be factored into fire safety procedures in terms of their positioning. 
  • Wiring and electrical systems – While modern electrics and wiring should be used in older buildings, sometimes older systems may still be present. With this in mind, they should be regularly tested and maintained to ensure they do not pose a fire risk.
  • Structural materials – Sometimes, older buildings may feature a lot of wooden elements. Wood is highly flammable and extremely vulnerable to fire.  
  • Complex evacuation routes – Older buildings may have more complicated layouts compared to modern properties. With this in mind, it may be easier for people to become lost during an evacuation. Therefore, it’s important to conduct regular fire drills to ensure people are familiar with how to exit the building.

Fire safety advice for older buildings 

Now that we’ve considered the various risk factors of older buildings, let’s take a look at the various ways to minimise a fire breaking out.

Check electrics 

Older wiring and electrical systems can be an accident waiting to happen, so make sure to have electrics regularly tested and monitored for signs of wear and tear by a professional. Equipment such as computers and laptops should also be PAT tested annually to make sure they are still safe to use. 

Test fire alarms 

Fire alarms play a fundamental role in the fire safety of every business, and this is also the case for those working in older buildings. Alarms should be tested by a responsible person every week to check they’re working correctly. 

Renew risk assessments 

Risk assessments should be reviewed at least once a year, and this is even more important in older buildings where risks may be more complex or differ from more modern properties. Be sure to note potential fire hazards, evacuation routes and if there are any vulnerable people within the premises. 

Check fire safety signage 

Sometimes, fire safety signs are neglected in older buildings for aesthetic purposes. However, you should always make sure evacuation routes are properly marked so people know where to go in the event of an emergency. 

Undergo fire safety training

The best way to prevent a fire from occurring is to undergo professional fire safety training. This will help you and others in an older building to understand fire risks. Meanwhile, training in evacuation plans will also reduce the risk of panic in an emergency.

Who is responsible for enforcing fire safety legislation? 

According to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the ‘responsible person’ within a business or organisation is responsible for enforcing the necessary fire safety legislation. 

Often, this is the person who is in charge of the building and is typically the business owner or manager of the premises. 

At Millennium Fire Protection, our expert team can help ensure everyone within your building is kept safe, as well as help you to comply with fire safety legislation. Our range of fire safety products and services includes fire extinguishers, fire alarms, fire risk assessments and much more.

Working across Harrow, Ealing, Watford and the surrounding areas, get in touch with our team today to learn more.