Fire alarm system for a historic sacred building

Fire Alarm System for a Historic Sacred Building
Donat Czapski

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  • how to adapt a sacred building to the fire protection law requirements
  • how to design a church fire alarm system that meets the conservator officer’s requirements (visual aspects, integrity of walls and ceilings)
  • how to properly protect a historic church against fire


  • development of a hybrid fire alarm system, combining a wireless system and a wired one, that meets the applicable law and the requirements of a conservator officer
  • the application of appropriate safeguards tailored to the specificities of the protected areas

Check the details for equipment and services in the field of fire protection installations.:

  • wireless fire detection and fire alarm system
  • wired fire alarm system

The task was to develop a hybrid fire alarm system for a sacred building that would meet not only the requirements of the applicable law, but also the conditions set by the conservator officer. The church which had to be protected was burnt several times in the past and often rebuilt. The designed fire alarm system plays a special role, as it is responsible for detecting fires at an early stage. Thanks to this, it is possible to quickly take appropriate intervention measures and thus minimize potential losses.

Conditions of the Conservator Officer in the Context of Fire Protection of a Sacred Building

The detailed design of the fire alarm system (FAS) was developed on the basis of legal norms and specific requirements of the conservator officer. They concerned both the appearance and location of individual components of the installation at critical points of the building. This was mainly related to the protection of the visual qualities of the temple – for example, the designed location of the fire sensor could interfere with the appearance of the church’s vault or wall. From a technical point of view, moving the sensor to another location may cause a delay in its operation. In addition, the fire sensors had to be made in the colour of the walls so that they could not be distinguished visually. Therefore, it was necessary to develop the design of the installation that would not only ensure its efficient operation, but also be adapted to the conditions related to the specificity of the facility.

What Fire Alarm System should be Used to Protect a Historic Church?

For the implementation of the project, we assumed the total protection of all premises of the building. Due to the specific layout of the church, which creates favourable conditions for the free development of fire in all directions, it was necessary to design a hybrid fire alarm system (combining wireless and wired systems) and to choose different protections for the open part and for the cellars and attics.

In the open space of the church, wireless point detectors have been designed together with wireless manual call points (MCP). In the basement and attic, a classic cable installation has been applied.

All system components will be operated from a single fire alarm control panel. In the event of a fire, an MCP will trigger an alarm and transmit it to the State Fire Service’s monitoring system. In addition, the fire alarm system will be equipped with a buffer power supply to ensure uninterrupted operation, even if the mains power supply is damaged for many hours.

Fire Protection of Sacred Buildings

The fire safety requirements for historic buildings in Poland are specified in the Building Law Act and the Fire Protection Act together with the executive regulations issued on their basis. The key issue is not only to know these regulations but also to properly interpret them in terms of selection of appropriate technical solutions.

In the context of fire protection of historical monuments, it is important to provide them with specialist technical equipment such as fire alarm systems, audible warning systems, permanent or semi-permanent fire extinguishing systems, hydrant networks, emergency and evacuation lighting, smoke extraction and anti-smoke systems, fire isolation dampers, etc.

Fires of sacred buildings usually reach gigantic proportions and cause enormous material, historical and cultural losses. An example is the recent event at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. In Poland, dozens of monuments are irreversibly destroyed each year as a result of fires.

The causes of fires in sacral buildings include arsons, carelessness in handling open fire, failures or improper operation of heating devices, defects in chimney flues, electrical appliances and installations, atmospheric discharges and conducting fire-hazardous work without proper preparation.

The specificity of sacred buildings means that when a fire occurs, it spreads freely in hard-to-reach places such as towers, lofts or attics. Moreover, the conduct of extinguishing activities is hampered by the cubature of the building. This is why it is extremely important to provide proper fire protection and regularly maintain the equipment that is part of the fire protection system.

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