Because historic structures vary by condition, extent of surviving historic fabric, past and proposed use and other factors, no universal means exists to evaluate inherent fire safety or the impact of potential improvements. Further, buildings have different roles in the ongoing operations of their institutions, ranging from organisations where exhibition of the building is a primary purpose, to those where the primary value is associated with the ability to house the functions required of that organization, eg schools or commercial ventures. Decisions regarding physical interventions should be appropriate to recognised hazards, which may be identified by a building survey or by review of relevant statistics.
Higher risk hazard occupancies such as residential uses, or higher hazard operations such as those using flammable materials, warrant higher levels of intervention than occupancies presenting minimal risk. Each building warrants an assessment of its unique hazards, as identified.
Fire risk assessments are tools for analysing site-specific hazards, and ultimately selecting fire safety interventions that will satisfy an organisationÕs established objectives. For historic buildings, fire risk assessments consider the hazards in the context of the ability to undertake architectural improvements, or to install technological systems in a manner that has an acceptable physical and visual impact, and the approaches established by building regulations or permitted alternatives.