Perspectives of Fire Protection of Museums and Libraries in India

In India there are 38 UNESCO listed sited, which include 30 cultural sites, 7 natural sites and 1 mixed-criteria site. Moreover, there many others places and buildings of relevance. Therefore, the report published by Kancherla Sri Devi and Toshi Dube Sharma on fire protection of museums, libraries and historical buildings in India is of interest for the approach followed in the conservation and restoration works of Indian cultural heritage buildings.

In the paper the Authors highlight that “Uttar Pradesh (745 monuments/sites), Karnataka (506) and Tamil Nadu (413) have the highest number of ASI- maintained sites. Unfortunately, the 3,693 monuments/ sites listed as protected under the ASI (2018) and hundreds of more, which are not, are constantly under multiple threats, both natural and man-made“.

In India three relevant buildings have been damaged by the fire in 2014 (Gorton castle, Shimla Chepauk Palace, Chennai and the Friends of museum complex, Jaipur) and, thus, the Authors state that ” there is a need to focus on identifying and assessing the potential risk caused by fire hazards in heritage museums and libraries to arrive at a suitable mitigation strategy using policies, innovative materials and technologies. The objective is to critically evaluate current conservation and restoration measures adopted and suggest strategy to improve it“.

Image taken by the paper "Innovations in conservation of heritage museums and libraries from fire hazards" of Kancherla Sri Devi, and Toshi Dube Sharma
Image taken by the paper “Innovations in conservation of heritage museums and libraries from fire hazards” of Kancherla Sri Devi, and Toshi Dube Sharma showing cavity barriers and the fire stopping possibilities of rock wool blanket in wooden elements of historic buildings.

Consequently, the paper is focused on the passive protection of the wooden structures of the buildings and emphasise the importance of improving risk assessment through methods more suitable the specific needs of the buildings.

The problem of historical structures with wood structures is one of the most relevant, given that its protection against the risk of fire normally poses significant issues with the conservation needs of the buildings. In this post on the protection of wood structures other information can be found.

The problems related to the fire protection of historic wood buildings have been also described in the following posts:

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