They are among the most treasured properties in the United Kingdom; buildings which are a part of the nation’s very fabric. York Minster, the Royal Albert Hall, the British Museum and Buckingham Palace all occupy an extremely important place in the annals of British history. Losing any one of them to fire would be a devastating loss to the country.
This is why it’s so important that effective fire safety measures are in place in these beautiful historic buildings, not only for the integrity of the buildings themselves, but also the safety of the public too. In recent years, the addition of fire and smoke curtains to each of the buildings listed above has taken their protection to a new level.
Although fire safety regulations are stringent in all walks of life, those in place at buildings open to the public are, naturally, particularly strict. Add to this the fact that historic structures also have particular architectural concerns and it is easy to see why fire safety becomes such an issue in this area.
Since they are normally hidden away from view when not in use, fire curtains are the ideal way of protecting both the historic buildings themselves and those who visit them, without drastically altering the architectural design. Although safety naturally comes first, altering the interior design of a building such as Buckingham Palace could have a detrimental effect on its aesthetic appeal. Fire curtains allow for open plan floor spaces whilst ensuring that extra protection is in place in the event of a worst case scenario.
It is not inconceivable, of course, that one of the nation’s most treasured buildings could be severely damaged by fire. In addition to the devastating 1992 fire at Windsor Castle, the summer of 1994 saw York Minster famously struck by lightning, causing an aggressive blaze to break out in the building’s main roof. If firefighters had not taken the decision to deliberately collapse large parts of the roof, the entire cathedral could have been completely destroyed.
The ability to contain an outbreak of fire in a confined area can often be the difference between superficial damage and the loss of an entire building. The fitting of high quality, discreet fire and smoke curtains is one of the best ways of compartmentalising fires. It is these very measures that are helping to protect the nation’s heritage for generations to come.