Fires and Historic Structures & Sites: How We Can Further Protect Our Cultural Heritage
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Fires continue to adversely impact our historic sites and structures. This includes fires not only in recent years at Notre Dame Cathedral, Brazil’s National Museum, and Shuri Castle (Japan), but also significant fires in the past involving palaces, sacred sites and other structures critical to our cultural heritage. Whether a site/structure within our local community, or a World Heritage Site (WHS), a loss to any part of these represents significant losses to us all and our collective heritage.
In terms of all natural, man-made and climate change related hazards, fire is one hazard that a significant amount can be done to limit its probability from occurring, as well as minimizing damage should one occur. To help further understand the challenges, recurring themes in fire related losses, and methods to further protect our cultural heritage, the following will be covered:
•Common threads & lessons learned from past fires
•Renovation/restoration related work, and significant vulnerabilities during this time
•Developing risk-informed, cost-effective and practical prevention & mitigation strategies
•Incorporating indigenous knowledge, methods and materials
•Challenges that arise when relying solely on codes to protect our heritage
•The need to focus on the prevention/mitigation phases
•Preparing for Emergency Response and Recovery Phases
•Keeping it simple
•Case studies of why small fires grew to become so devastating.
By further understanding these, we can help further protect our heritage from fires and their devastating impact to our local and global communities, and to help build resilient communities.
Christopher E Marrion PE, F-SFPE, MScFPE, NFPA is a Fire Risk Management Consultant protecting our historic structures and built environment from fire. Chris is the Founder of Marrion Fire & Risk Consulting PE, LLC, a special expert for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a Director for the National Fire Heritage Center’s Board, a Fellow of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE), and holds a Master’s Degree in Fire Protection Engineering. Chris’s work includes providing risk-informed, performance-based, sustainable, cost-effective prevention/mitigation, emergency response and recovery strategies to protect our built environment.
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