Listed Building: Saving a listed building after a fire

listed building fire

A fire can have devastating effects on a listed building, especially those that have historic relevance. Listed buildings can be houses, apartments or even historical monuments.

‘Historic England’ research from 2019 found that in England there were over 1000 incidents in historic and listed buildings that required the fire service.

It is recommended to make the fire service aware that a property is listed when it’s on fire. This is because they are trained at putting special measures in place where possible, to ensure the least amount of permanent damage.

Here, we give you a few crucial measures that you can put in place in a listed building before you refurbish:

Inspection

After the insurance company has been notified and once a building is water tight and deemed safe to enter, the future of a building needs to be inspected and investigated to see the potential there is to saving what is left. Pictures should be taken and stored safely so that they don’t get lost.

The most important elements to be inspected are the structural stability, contamination, water penetration and electrical safety of the building.

Water Penetration

This can have the most effect on a building, as it can take place during and after a fire. Water can cause all types of effects, from mould & mildew, decay and chemical damage.

It is difficult to control as the fire normally destroys any measures that were already existing in the listed building. If it is possible to be restored, it is the most important and urgent element that needs to be controlled.

If water has penetrated the building, the property needs to be well ventilated, to assist in the drying process. This is another blog we wrote about how to clean up water damage and water penetration.

To ventilate a listed building:

  • Identify all water penetrated materials
  • Remove anything that is not being kept or retained/refurbished
  • Add ventilation materials so ventilation still occurs after refurbishment
  • Remove anything that is completely water saturated to stop it spreading
  • Open everything, such as windows, cupboards to ventilate more efficiently
  • Drying machines, such as heaters and dehumidifiers

If it is a listed building, specialist measures and appliances may need to be put into place, including dehumidifiers. If not ventilated and dried efficiently, this could produce further mould & mildew growth after the building has been refurbished.

Mould & Mildew

Once mould and mildew start to grow, it spreads rapidly and is hard to remove. To save the materials in a listed building, this should be located and resolved pretty early on before it spreads. Both mould and mildew are toxic to us and could cause serious health issues if not dealt with effectively and efficiently. In most likely cases, if it spreads, materials may have to be removed as they are unsalvageable, such as wood and other fabrics. By finding mould and mildew early on, the more likely you can assess it and stop the spread.

Read our top tips for reducing mould & mildew long term.

Hazards

Fires can produce hazardous chemicals and materials. These can include:

  • Asbestos
  • Smoke damage
  • Lead
  • Mould
  • Mildew
  • Hydrogen cyanide
  • Benzene
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Arsenic
  • Chromium
  • Phosphorus
  • Cobalt

This list, along with many other hazardous materials and chemicals, show the importance of identifying, analysing and repairing these hazards in a listed building. If they are not dealt with, they can persist in the building after refurbishment, causing harm to yours and anyone else who enters or resides in the property.

Specialist equipment and professionals can help identify where and what the hazards are, as a lot of the time they can go unnoticed or are invisible, especially more complex buildings like a historical or listed building.

We work across the South East in East Sussex, West Sussex, Surrey, Kent & London. Contact our friendly team to find out more on 0800 030 4360.