MPs Warn that the U.K.'s Parliament Building is Vulnerable to a Notre-Dame-Like Fire

Chloe Foussianes
Photo credit: Pawel Libera - Getty Images

From Town & Country

In the wake of the fire that consumed Notre-Dame Cathedral, the U.K. is warning that some of its monuments may also be susceptible to a blaze.

The state of the Palace of Westminster, the home of the U.K. parliament, seems to be of chief concern. "You see beautiful buildings like [Notre-Dame] and think of the beautiful buildings we’ve got in this country," Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Guardian. "If any of those were destroyed in fire how would we feel about it? The state of the building is very poor in Westminster and a fire risk is obviously huge with a building that has so much wood within it."

Last year, MPs voted to move out of the building in the mid-2020s to make way for much-needed renovations, but some worry that even a few years could be too long to wait. Between 2008 and 2012, the palace caught fire 40 times-thankfully all of them were put out quickly. Fire safety personnel constantly patrol the structure to ensure that any blazes are caught as soon as possible.

Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

Earlier this week, Cabinet Office minister David Lidington wrote a column warning about the dire state of the palace. "Several times in the last year, chunks of masonry have fallen off buildings," it read. "We’ve been very lucky no one has been seriously injured,” he wrote, shortly after MPs had to evacuate the Commons chamber because of a water leak... Worse, the electrical, plumbing, heating and sewerage systems are well beyond their expected working lifespan and in a dilapidated state. With each year that passes, the risk of a catastrophic fire grows."

It's not just the palace that Britons are concerned about. On Tuesday, Westminster Abbey tweeted to explain its fire plan in-depth, hoping to assuage fears about its safety. "A lot of people have been asking us about how well we’re protected and prepared for a fire," the first tweet in the thread read.

Following Monday's fire, church bells rang out around the world in solidarity with Notre-Dame-including those at the Palace of Westminster and the Abbey.

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