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Fire and heritage protection in Australian public housing

Mary Hardie (School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Melvyn Green (School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Yaping He (School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 17 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

Heritage housing in inner city areas represents a valuable cultural asset that belongs, in part, to the community as a whole. Despite this, the risk of destruction by fire in closely spaced heritage housing has not received a great deal of research attention. The purpose of this paper is to identify potential faults in building fabric that may result in unacceptable fire safety risks to irreplaceable heritage streetscapes.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper examines a sample of publically administered heritage houses in inner Sydney. A condition survey looks at the occurrence of noted defects, or non-compliances to the current building regulations, in fire separation between attached or closely spaced occupancies.

Findings

Fire spread between adjacent buildings is identified as a potential hazard which needs to be addressed in order to ensure both the sustainability of the remaining heritage housing stock and the safety of the occupants.

Research limitations/implications

While the survey is small, it represents a significant proportion of a dwindling stock of nineteenth century heritage housing in public ownership in Sydney.

Practical implications

Based on the results of the survey, a recommendation has been made in regard to improving building surveying practice when dealing with renovation of heritage housing.

Social implications

Concern over the diminishing availability of social housing in inner city locations indicates the need for more attention to the fire safety of the remaining stock.

Originality/value

The research provides original data on the level of fire safety risk in a regional cluster of heritage housing.

Keywords

Citation

Hardie, M., Green, M. and He, Y. (2014), "Fire and heritage protection in Australian public housing", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 196-212. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCHMSD-08-2013-0040

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited