Earthquakes pose a big threat to cultural and heritage buildings. Normally, historic buildings are more vulnerable to seismic actions than ordinary ones. So, also the artifacts that such buildings normally protect are subject to damages, due to the debris and, sometimes, to fires ignited by earthquakes.Continue reading “Earthquakes and Cultural Heritage: the STOP Vademecum to help first responders limiting damages to buildings”
On November 12th, 2018, the European Commission has posted on its website some information about a report (Europe is ready for climate impacts: Commission evaluates its strategy) on lessons learned and reflections on improvements for future action with regard to the impacts of climate change on economic sectors of EU regions. Continue reading “Europe is ready for climate impact. The EU Commission evaluates its strategy, but what about Cultural Heritage protection?”
On November 4th 1966 a flash flood caused in central Italy 47 deaths, hundreds of injured and 46,000 displaced people and homeless. In Florence, the waters topped the shoulders of the riversides and covered the historic districts, reaching in some places up to 5 meters in height and forming a lake of about 40 sq km in area. In cities the dead were 17, just as many in the surrounding areas. The material damage was serious: in the end turned out damaged or destroyed 9,752 shops, 8,548 shops, 248 hotels, 600 production plants, 13,943 houses, thousands of cars. The event left more than 30,000 unemployed people. The extent of damage was worsened by the loss of the artistic and cultural heritage.
The water and mud, loads of fuel oil collected from several citizens tanks, reached the Uffizi Gallery, the National Library, Santa Croce, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, the Archaeological museum and the Bargello, the National Library. Many masterpieces were damaged, among them the crucifix by Cimabue, the paintings of Botticelli, Paolo Uccello and Vasari, along with other 1,500 works of art and 1,300,000 volumes of the National Library. The emotional impact of the devastation flicked a general mobilization: several parts were collected funds and thousands of young people came from all over the world to make their contribution to the salvation of works of art and books, literally snatching them from the water and oily from the mud. And thanks to them was much recovered, but still, after more than forty years after the flood, are still to be restored paintings (about 140, such as the Last Supper by Giorgio Vasari), frescoes (350) and tons of vestments . Then there are the volumes of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (including old books, miscellaneous dated and modern, and theses, is expected to exceed 70,000 units) and the funds of the State Archives (documents that occupy about 2.5 kilometers of shelves) , the records of the Institute of the Innocents (1600) and those at the Opera del Duomo (there are 300), the testimonies of the Jewish Museum (15,000 volumes) and the artifacts of the Archeologico (packed on three shelves).
At the end of the events dedicated to the memory of the 1966 Florence flooding, the workshop “Flooding Rescue” took place in the Cappella dei Pazzi , a day of study and comparison with the academic world dedicated to deepen the issues related to floods in a context of strong climate change.The work session of the day dedicated to the rescue activities in case of damages due to floods has been opened by the presentation of Prof. Piero Cimbolli Spagnesi University “La Sapienza” of Rome that retraced the history of technical rescue in Italy from 1951 to date in the context of the floods in terms of standardization and relationship with the territory. Prof. Nicola Casagli of the University of Florence has exposed an analysis of hydrogeological risks in Italy. Climate change with its impacts on the region and the need for adaptation in the hydrogeological defense system were the topics discussed by Professor Dr. Massimiliano Pasqui CNR in his speech. Michel Cives Captain of the Paris Fire Brigades, has explained the organizational model and the ability to operational response that the Fire Brigade of Paris have implemented to tackle with the recent French floods.
In the final phase of the day of study was the Director for the Emergency Department of the Rescue Fire Service and Civil Defence, Giuseppe Romano who illustrated the models of intervention of the Fire Brigade in Italian terms of new technologies and innovative organizational models. The concluding remarks of the meeting, made from the Head of the Italian National Fire Brigade, Gioacchino Giomi, showed the interest of the National Fire Brigade with civil society and with the world of scientific research aimed at the qualification of operational response on the territory.
At the end of the meeting a brief video of the Horizon 2020 STORM project has been showed to the public to give some information about the project. The activities, started in June 2016, will deal with the issues related to heritage safety and climatic changes and will end in 2019.
German Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance is involved in protecting national Heritage with one central Authority (BBK) established in 2004.
BBK is a technical authority of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) and gives competent advice and support to other Federal and Land authorities to help them with the completion of their tasks.
BBK also organizes courses on Cultural Assets Protection in the Academy for Crisis Management, Emergency Planning and Civil Protection.
In an attempt to evaluate and reduce the different level of risk in heritage building, in Scotland, a unique approach under the project title of the Scottish Historic Buildings National Fire Database (SHBNFD) was developed. The database provided a different kind of insight and approach to historic buildings at risk.
The SHBNFD project is an ongoing partnership between Historic Scotland and the eight Scottish Fire and Rescue Services. Initially covering the 3,500 Category A Listed Buildings across the country, the project’s overall aims are:
• to improve the effectiveness of fire-fighting operations in historic buildings by making available relevant information in a format suitable for use by fire crews attending an incident at these properties;
• to facilitate the improved reporting and gathering of statistics on fires in Scottish historic buildings
• to inform Historic Scotland’s Technical Conservation, Research and Education Group’s future research programme from the feedback material
The database has been developed as a ‘living document and provides an exchange of information between Historic Scotland (who hold reference details on listed buildings), the National Monuments Record of Scotland (NMRS) –located with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (who hold a survey, drawing and photographic archive of sites and buildings) – and the eight Scottish Fire and Rescue Services (who hold fire inspection information on buildings). Combining all of this material for each of the listed sites provides a unique insight into the location, quality and relevance for fire fighting crews.
The output from the database is an amalgam of historic information from the NMRS and other archives. This material is initially gathered by a historic buildings researcher, and then verified and expanded on by any material gathered on site by a seconded fire officer from each of the eight Scottish Fire and Rescue Services, following a related series of site visits. The initial phase of the project aims to incorporate each of the c3,500 Scottish Category A listed properties in the database.
The type of collated information includes architectural descriptions, photographs, plans, access routes and details of water supplies. In addition, priority areas within a property that are of highest historic significance are identified, as are ways in which a building’s structure may adversely affect fire-fighting operations.
The following illustrations are copy “screen shots” of the type of data resulting from the amalgamation of information:-
An immediate benefit of the database is the improved awareness of the location, significance and importance of historic buildings within the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service areas.
The longer-term benefit of the project will be in helping to mitigate the devastating effects that fire can and does have on Scotland’s built heritage. Today, the majority of the country’s Category A listed buildings had been included across the eight Fire andRescue Service rural areas and in the smaller towns.
Agreement was also reached on how to extend the exercise to include the high proportion of Category A listed buildings that exist within the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Scottish Historic Buildings National Fire Database has been well received as a valuable example of collaboration between cultural heritage professionals and the fire and rescue authorities.
Used together with relevant statistics on actual fires, the database is considered to present a very effective means of increasing future fire safety in historic buildings.
As a result, its recognised value, potential for a much wider application, and clear operational benefits for fire-fighters has been acknowledged. It was also considered that the project approach could be adopted by other countries where similar, or related, datasets of information exist and could have the potential to be integrated.
Excerpt from COST C17 final report – Author : Mike Coull
In the final Report of the Cost c17 Action different aspects of fire protection of Cultural Heritage buildings have been addressed, as the water mist for fire protection, which at the time was a relatively new technology with specific advantages to the built heritage.
The standard design and manufacturing processes do not currently address heritage applications, but performance-based codes are favourable for introducing new water mist systems. This report establishes the current level of experience, and presents basic information about water mist for the heritage community. The challenges, implications and perspectives of the technology are outlined in order to ensure the best protection of European heritage. A guide on how to accept or approve mist systems in heritage properties is given.
Water mist application is the most subtle method of water extinguishing of fires. It provides a safe and practical environment for rescue work, it protects visitors and staff, and it incurs minimal secondary damage in valid or unintentional activations and substantially removes harmful particles from smoke.
The Minute of Agreement between Historic Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services for the development of The Scottish Historic Buildings National Fire Database (SHBNFD) continues to provide the structure to enable Scotland to remain a world leader in the protection of the built heritage from the devastating effects of fire.
Mike Coull of Grampian Fire and Rescue Service continues to serve in the role of Heritage Co- ordinator for the Scottish Fire Services. This post is considered crucial in not only delivering the key objectives set out in the Minute of Agreement, but also to enable further research developing strategies with the Fire S ervice that will contribute to the protection of the built heritage.
The current Minute of Agreement was signed in October 2007 and sets out a wider set of outcomes to reflect the fact that the SHBNFD is much more than a database, it is a project setting out objectives driving forward the protection of the built heritage. To meet those objectives it was vital to ensure effective partnership working, through this it has been possible to establish protocols with each of the eight Scottish fire and rescue services for the exchange of information on Category B-listed buildings.
This Annual Summary Report aims to demonstrate that significant progress has been made in many of the outcomes identified within the Minute of Agreement over the past twelve months. In addition to the agreed outcomes, two significant tasks have been undertaken; a major International conference on ‘Fire Protection of the Built Heritage’ was held at Elphinstone Hall, Aberdeen on 5th May 2009 and a research project involving a series of fire tests on historic doors. Further details of these two initiatives are included within this report.