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Pier fire sparks call for tougher rules on historic structures

Devastation caused by this week's fire at Weston-super-Mare's Grand Pier has highlighted the need for tougher guidelines on risk assessments for historic structures, a leading fire-resistance expert has told NCE.

Faber Maunsell director of fire and risk engineering Paul Scott said tougher guidelines should exist to ensure that risk assessors used on historic structures are suitably competent.

"The risk assessment should be done in the context that this is a very important building," said Scott.

"It should be done by somebody competent who can take into account the replaceability and historic nature of the building.

We shouldn't lose historic buildings because of a lack of planning. You need to engage with the fire brigade and all the key stakeholders to put measures in place."

Lack of water from fire hydrants meant that fire fighters were forced to pump water from the nearby Marine Lake.

Scott said recent fires on historic structures highlighted the need for changes to legislation.

Referring to the fire which badly damaged the Cutty Sark in May last year, Scott said: "With the Cutty Sark the fire fighters couldn't fight the fire until it was too late because they were not sure whether there were acetylene cylinders present."

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