Our museums and libraries house an abundant amount of cultural heritage that is irreplaceable. Safeguarding these valuables is a top priority for any curator or owner. The damage that fire and smoke can cause to historic artefacts can be detrimental and with the use of highly volatile fluids that are used in conservation, fire risk can be high. So what are the fire risks in these places of interest?
- Many exhibits are formed of highly combustible artefacts. Paintings, books and textiles are all highly flammable and due to their age could ignite quickly.
- Alcohol and ethanol are all chemicals used in conservation fluids and are highly flammable.
- Due to the very nature of a museum, all of these exhibits are collated in one single space which could cause a fire to spread rapidly.
- The effect that fire will have on any artefact will depend on the temperature and duration of the exposure.
- Smoke and soot can cause significant damage to fragile ornaments and other irreplaceable artefacts by contaminating the air space and the surrounding area.
- If any of these artefacts come into contact with fire hose water they can also be destroyed.
What is the solution?
- An assessor will look at every element of the building and it’s interior to decide the best strategy to implement. In museums such as The British Library active fire prevention and early smoke detection are used to protect the millions of books and exhibits that it holds.