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Fire safety during restoration work

The whole world is currently in shock at the awful images coming from Paris over the past few hours, as the historic Notre-Dame Cathedral burned in a huge fire that destroyed its roof, spire and much of its contents. It has been widely reported that renovation work was ongoing. At this time we do not know if this work led to the fire starting.

It does raise questions about fire safety during restoration work. These temporary conditions raise the risk of fire. More electrical equipment is used, hot works take place, and so on.

If you plan and are careful, with fully implemented safe systems of work that are monitored and checked, you can reduce the risk. Portable electrical equipment on construction sites should be tested quarterly at least, and the equipment should be visually inspected before each use.

Hot work permit systems are also needed, so every time welding takes place a permit should be issued and not signed off until the hot equipment has cooled adequately. There are many instances where oxyacetylene bottles have not had their valve turned off properly. Proper checks need to take place.

A dynamic fire risk assessment during the works needs to be done to ensure that at all stages of the work, fire safety is paramount, and all workers, including contractors are trained in fire safety.

Fire kills. It maims. It makes people homeless. It takes the heart out of an entire nation. But you can reduce the risks of this happening.

Whatever happens relating to Notre-Dame Cathedral, luckily there were few injuries.

Buildings, no matter how old, can be replaced. People cannot. Windsor Castle, York Minster, Hampton Court Palace, and the Cutty Sark have all recovered and are back to their former glory. There is no reason why, with time, this cannot happen in Paris.

My thoughts are with the French nation at this time.

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