Dear Orkney News,
Once again, I find myself sending my sympathies to the people of Paris and greater France but this time no one was killed but one fireman was injured. Paris et Francais, nous sommes avec vous.
No matter your religious beliefs or none you cannot be anything but saddened by the devastating fire that swept through the ‘THE MOTHER’ Cathedral of France, the point from which all distances are measured in France. I recall as a recalcitrant youth of fifteen being dragged round (my feelings at that time) the great Cathedrals of Europe by my parents including Notre-Dame and climbing the many stairs in Quasimodo’s Tower. When I saw the first internal pictures this morning on the News Channel and apart from the shock of the damage to the 800-year-old wooden roof which was virtually destroyed, yet, thanks to the original massive stone construction, the internal vaulted roof remained relatively undamaged apart from where the collapsed spire broke through. A tribute to those ancient architects, builders and last night the Firemen of Paris.
I was immediately reminded of the second fire at the ‘Mac’ and how it had been attributed to happening during renovation work and the lack of adequate fire-fighting equipment while the works were being carried out. This latest devastating fire at one of the symbols of our common European Heritage sharply reminds us that if we want future generations to enjoy and appreciate it, then we must be prepared to provide 21st century fire protection at all times and proper building fabric maintenance no matter what the cost.
It should also serve as a wake-up call to all those responsible be it National or Local Government or private companies that the provision of ‘sprinkler systems’ now becomes a priority in high-rise properties similar to Grenfell Tower. In all the reports covering the recent devastating fire at the world-renowned Bird Observatory on Fair Isle nowhere have I seen any mention of a ‘sprinkler system’ which I find surprising given that it was only built a few years ago and was almost entirely constructed with wood. So, the question is was a ‘sprinkler system’ installed?