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Stop our heritage buildings burning down

Stop our heritage buildings burning down, says Fire Service and Historic Places Trust

New Zealand¡¦s heritage buildings are burning to the ground at a rate of 15 a year.

According to Fire Service statistics even more alarming is the fact that in the event of a fire, heritage buildings are more likely to be totally destroyed than modern buildings.

Fire Service national manager community safety, Jim Dance, says the reason for this is that most of these buildings are not adequately protected from fire.

¡§It is a fact that:

„h 93 percent of all heritage buildings involved in fires did not have a fire detection system of any kind „h Nearly three quarters of all heritage building fires happen in timber framed structures „h Nearly a third of all fires in these types of buildings are deliberately lit „h Over half of heritage building fires occur in residential buildings.

If you combine all of these reasons - it is no wonder that we can¡¦t save them,¡¨ he said.

The Fire Service has joined with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust to try to stop more heritage buildings burning down.

A fire safety campaign targeting owners of heritage homes and buildings was launched today. The campaign consists of a booklet containing practical fire safety advice, important fire safety messages and fire safety solutions, and a joint advisory service offered by the two organisations.

¡§The New Zealand Historic Places Trust is delighted to be working with the Fire Service on this campaign¡¨ said Trust Chief Executive, Dr Bill Tramposch. ¡§We will be advising owners on how to integrate safety features into heritage buildings while respecting their architectural and historic qualities. We¡¦re particularly excited about the low-cost sprinkler system developed by the Fire Service. In the past, the high cost of fire protection systems has been a major barrier to owners adequately protecting their properties. We advocate for the highest level of protection, and this new product provides a realistic and cost-effective way of addressing that need.¡¨

The Fire Service is offering an advisory service that offers fire safety strategies to reduce the likelihood of fire, information packs that include booklets on fire safety systems and fire safety practices and Fire Service engineers to consult and put fire safety plans together for heritage buildings.

¡§We also recommend a combination of fire safety systems in the home to save lives and property. Smoke alarms will give early warning and save lives, sprinkler systems will stop the spread of fire and save property and an escape plan will ensure a quick and safe exit from a burning building,¡¨ said Jim Dance.

¡§It¡¦s not just the owner of a property who suffers when a heritage building is lost to fire ¡V it¡¦s the whole community¡¨, said Dr Bill Tramposch.

¡§We want to keep our heritage places alive and useful, and this campaign will give owners a practical way of doing just that.¡¨

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