Houses of Parliament has no effective fire compartmentation


The Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) has few fire safety measures. A recent internal report revealed a lack of effective compartmentation throughout the building.

“The condition of the building impedes modern fire safety approaches and it has proved impossible so far to implement effective fire compartmentation,” ………

………. “Because of the fate of the old Palace of Westminster the new Palace was designed…with fire proofing in mind…On the other hand a great deal of combustible material was used for interior decoration and the building was designed with ‘a comprehensive network of pathways’ in the form of ventilation shafts and inter-floor voids, unintentionally creating ideal conditions for fire and smoke to spread through the building.”

Although a sprinkler system had been previously suggested, says the report,previous advice in 2008 concluded that it was “virtually impossible to install without first resolving the already grossly overcrowded corridors”.New solutions and remedies are now being sought to increase fire safety in the buildings.

There have been no major fires recently, but there has been at least forty small fires reported from 2008 – 2012. The report also says there has been evidence of smoke travel through architectural voids in the building.

Documents published on the Parliament titled “Parliamentary Fire Safety Arrangements” states that the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) is legally bound to comply with Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and that enforcement duties are carried out by the Crown Premises Inspection Group (CPIG). The document reports:

“CPIG last inspected the Parliamentary estate in September 2011, recognising that attention had already been paid to increasing coverage of automatic fire detection and voice alarm systems, and compartmentation, and accessibility of fire safety training, but also identifying a number of improvements that could be made in these areas. These improvements form part of the Parliamentary fire safety improvement works programme.”

The website document says that there are approx 200-300 false automatic fire alarms per annum across the whole site, which is a reduction of 54% since 2005/6.

Compartmentation can be a major issue in old and listed buildings and therefore alternative protective and preventative fire safety  measures coupled with robust fire procedures and fire training of all staff and residents. Determining such measures should be carried out by professional fire safety consultants. For details of such services such as fire risk assessments London, fire marshal training London, fire training courses London contact London Fire Risk Assessment Consultants, City Fire Training or Fire Training London now.

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