Heritage experts investigating how to fireproof old buildings

Firefighters tackle the blaze on South Bridge in Edinburgh, Saturday December 7 2002.  Edinburgh's biggest fire in a long time started in the Cowgate destroying the Gilded Balloon.
Firefighters tackle the blaze on South Bridge in Edinburgh, Saturday December 7 2002. Edinburgh's biggest fire in a long time started in the Cowgate destroying the Gilded Balloon.
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Edinburgh World Heritage experts are to look into measures to prevent fires in old buildings.

Training sessions will take place examining the risks, management procedures and preventative measures that can be employed to ­protect buildings from fire, as well as approaches to restore damaged fabric after a blaze.

Speakers will include Mike Coull of Heritage Fire and Safety Ltd, Julie Bon of the National Trust for Scotland and Pat Gibbons of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. More speakers are being added for the event on 2 November at New Register House, West Register Street, Edinburgh, and those working in the heritage sector are invited to attend.

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Several buildings in the Unesco World Heritage Site have been badly damaged or destroyed by fires in recent years.

In December 2002, a large section of the Cowgate in the city’s Old Town was destroyed by a blaze. Within four hours it had spread to Chambers Street and South Bridge and it took fire crews 52 hours to fully extinguish the flames within the tightly packed streets.

Businesses including nightclub La Belle Angele and comedy venue Gilded Balloon were destroyed in the blaze, as well as Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics.

In December 2008, hundreds of people had to be evacuated from the city centre when fire crews were called to tackle a major blaze at the former Khushi’s Indian restaurant in Victoria Street. The property remained empty for several years following the fire, which also caused extensive damage to neighbouring venues Liquid Room and Finnegans Wake.

In Glasgow, the famous art school building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh was hit by two devastating fires within four years of each other.

Glasgow School of Art’s board has been accused of ignoring repeated warning of fire risk before a blaze in 2014.

The building, in the Garnethill area of the city, was well into a renovation project when it was again devastated by fire in June this year. Its future remains unclear.