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10 Tips for Preventing and Responding to Fire at a Historic Home
10 Tips for
PREVENTING AND RESPONDING
TO FIRES AT HISTORIC HOMES
1. Do a fire
Conduct your own fire prevention
check. Make sure there are
appropriate safety measures in
place such as fire alarms,
sprinkler systems, and fire
2. Take extra holiday
During the holidays, be mindful of
how you decorate and watch out
for fire hazards such as tangled
cords, overloaded outlets, or lights
and candles kept too close to fabric
or dry pine needles. Don’t forget to
turn off those Christmas tree lights
when you leave the house.
3. Store documents in a fireproof safe.
Keep your important paperwork, such as documents about the history of your
property, in a fireproof safe. That way, if disaster does strike, you will have all the info
you need for an accurate restoration.
4. Know that every fire is different.
The best step you can take to ensure your historic home is taken care of after a fire is
to hire a professional. Contact your local or state preservation office for
5. Talk to the
Tell the responders that your
house is older or historic and any
other information that might be
helpful. This can keep them safe
as well as mitigate damage to
your home after the fire is out.
6. Check for smoke, sparks, and embers.
Once you’re allowed back inside your house, check the roof and each floor for smoke,
sparks, or embers, and inspect for structural damage. Emergency responders should
do this, but it’s a good idea to check again.
7. Have systems
Get your heating, propane, and
water systems tested before
using them again after a fire. Fire
can cause contamination, lead to
dangerous chain reactions, or
8. Prevent further
Help prevent future damage post-
fire—such as water infiltration
from rain, snow, or ice—by
covering roofs, windows, and
doorways with temporary tarps.
9. Brace unstable elements.
Brace (or, if you can do so safely, remove) unstable building elements such as walls,
ceilings, or chimneys. This will help prevent collapse and give you time while you wait
for a professional or figure out next steps.
10. Get the air flowing.
Get air flowing throughout the house to remove residual smoke or fumes. Turn on fans
and open windows. Take extra caution if there is loose ash or debris that could
The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America’s
historic places. Preservation Tips & Tools helps others do the same
in their own communities.
For more information, visit SavingPlaces.org.
Photos Courtesy: Damien Jeanmaire/Flickr/CC
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