Aim: This article aims to analyse the current level of fire safety and operating preparation for conducting rescue and firefighting operations within the Historical Centre of Warsaw. The aim of the study is also to determine the technical, operating and legislative activities which can improve the situation in the two aforementioned areas.

Introduction: The article presents an assessment of fire safety and the preparation for fire and rescue operations in the Old Town in Warsaw. For this purpose, the paper analyses the available source materials, statistical data, survey results and existing legislation. As an introduction to the subject, the article describes the Old Town district of Warsaw, including its recognition as a world heritage site by the UNESCO.

Methodology: The article contains an assessment of selected aspects of fire safety in Warsaw’s Old Town and an evaluation of the preparation of the Municipal Headquarters of the State Fire Service in Warsaw for carrying out operations in this area. The assessment of fire safety was performed using the analysis of materials collected while working with the HERITPROT project, data obtained from the Municipal Headquarters of the State Fire Service in Warsaw and on the basis of survey results. A survey was also carried out among all residential property administrators in the Old Town and all administrators of religious buildings in this area. The analysis of the preparation for rescue and firefighting operations included an assessment of compliance with the requirements of fire access roads and fire water supply. The analysis proposes ways of increasing the safety of Old Town areas in cities. Organisational activities include training for fire and rescue units; technical solutions comprise modern firefighting equipment (water fog); and legislative action involves the adaptation of Fire Safety Instructions for historic buildings.

Conclusions: The analysis showed that problems with an inadequate protection of sensitive historic urban fabric and historical exhibits can be solved by using either technical devices or legal conditions. Hence, the article includes examples of activities for improving fire safety in Old Town areas, and examples of solutions for improving the preparation of these areas for conducting rescue and firefighting operations. In addition, the contained comprehensive assessment of fire access roads and fire water supply can be directly used for operating activities of the Municipal Headquarters of the State Fire Service in Warsaw.

Keywords: fire safety, operating capability, site protection, Old Town in Warsaw, UNESCO

Type of article: review article