Hertfordshire Building Control were called out on the morning of Sunday 9th December to attend a major fire at St John the Baptist Church, Royston. The Church had been attended by fire crews in the early hours, and at its peak had 25 firefighters tackling the building after the roof, bell tower and church entrance were found to be “well alight”.
Our role was to ascertain the structure was safe for the fire-fighters to continue their operations damping down the fire, and to ensure that the fire investigators and Scene of Crimes Officers (SOCO) from the Police Service could safely commence their investigations.
Damage and making safe
With the Church roof and bell tower severely damaged by fire, it was a challenging job finding out which areas of the building were accessible. Furthermore, exploring what damage had been done to the clock, its mechanisms and the bells and their fixings was crucial. Access for close visual inspection was compromised, as lime mortar continued to fall from the walls. Precariously hanging debris meant that the decision was made to isolate all areas of concern. Working with both the emergency services and members of the church, strategies for ongoing access to the Grade I listed building were implemented, to safeguard both the building and personnel.
Our involvement with this devastating event are likely to go on for many months, as we assist with the on-going inspections and re-build of this building to ensure it is brought back to its former glory.
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The police are continuing their investigations alongside our colleagues at Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. They are appealing for anyone with information about the fire, or events leading up to it, to please come forward. Anyone with information should contact the non-emergency number 101, quoting ISR 143 of December 9. You can also report information online at www.herts.police.uk/Report.