How Climate Change will affect Museums: a book about Indoor Risks

Managing Indoor Climate Risks in Museums – Bart Ankersmit • Marc H.L. Stappers – Springer

Climate change, presumably, will affect the way buildings will be designed and managed. Also museums are challenged by such risk and a new kind of approach needs to be studied.

Among the wealth of websites and papers that the internet web allows to read about the climate change issue, Managing Indoor Climate Risks in Museums has the gift of explaining the big picture and, at the same time, giving practical tips to the many professionals that need to be supported in studying and applying real-world solution to a new problem.

Continue reading “How Climate Change will affect Museums: a book about Indoor Risks”

Vegetation Fire and Cultural Heritage Buildings: the Paul Getty Museum Case Study


On December 5th, 2017, a large bush fire in California has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and destroyed hundreds of homes and other buildings. According the media no injuries or structural damage have been reported, although the museum has been threatened and closed to the public on Wednesday 5th.

Flames endangers the I 405 by the Getty Center on Dec. 5th – Credits: Melissa Castro

Continue reading “Vegetation Fire and Cultural Heritage Buildings: the Paul Getty Museum Case Study”

The NFPA 909 – 2017 Edition on “Protection of Cultural Resource Properties: Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship” has been published

The 909 Standard “Protection of Cultural Resource Properties — Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship” – 2017 Edition has been published by National Fire Protection Association.

The standard describes principles and practices of protection for cultural resource properties (museums, libraries, and places of worship etc.), their contents, and collections, against conditions or physical situations with the potential to cause damage or loss. The updates for the 2017 edition include:

  • expanded provisions for outdoor collections and archaeological sites and their protection against wildfire;
  • further clarification of sprinkler system corrosion protection criteria;
  • mandated integrated system testing per NFPA 4, Standard for Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing;
  •  the addition of numerous events to Annex B, Fire Experience in Cultural Properties.

According to the 909 code, libraries, museums, and places of worship housed in historic structures have also to comply with the requirements of NFPA 914 (Code for Fire Protection of Historic Structures).

The standard includes provisions for fire prevention, emergency operations, fire safety management, security, emergency preparedness and inspection, testing, and maintenance of protection systems.

As in the previous editions, criteria are provided for new construction, addition, alteration, renovation, and modification projects, along with specific rules addressing places of worship and museums, libraries, and their collections.

Citè de la Science: 120 Firefighters in Paris to extinguish a Museum Fire

Paris firefighters on August 20th 2015 have fought a fire at the Cite des Sciences. The fire broke out between 02:30 and 03:00 local time in a building that was undergoing work, and has been fought by some 30 fire trucks and 120 firefighters.

Six floors of the museum have been impacted by the blaze, which took five hours to be brought under control.

Many Parisians took to social media to report the smell and seeing plumes of smoke. The building was empty when the fire started.
Wooden pallets, cardboard boxes, plasterbloard, electrical cables have been burning,and the heat was so fierce that firefighting teams were only able to work for 20 minutes at a time before having to be rotated. One of the firefighters was hospitalized with extreme heat exposure while the other suffered light injuries from smoke inhalation.

The complex draws around five million people a year and comprises four huge cube-shaped buildings.

The fire occurred in a 10,000-square metre cube that was being fitted out for shops, and was due to open on October 15. Smoke and flames damaged the area ravaging a 110-million-euro plan to turn the building into an area for shops.

The fire alarm system was not operational because of the works.

The Citè de la Science et de l’industrie complex is one of the biggest science museums in Europe.

Philips Collection Fire – Washington DC (USA)

aOn September 2, 2010, a fire started on the roof of the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and it has been extinguished, with no injuries reported and no  serious damage to artworks. The artworks  could have incurred significant damage in the fire, which was “renovation-related.”

The blaze, which had erupted at about 8:30 a.m., was put out by a combination of the museum’s sprinkler system and responding firemen, but with limited water damage on all floors.

The fire was restricted to the collection’s building that served as the institution’s original home. After the fire has been extinguished, museum staff has moved  artworks from the mansion into the adjacent Goh Annex.

The collection has been evacuated and closed after the fire spread smoke through the building. Fire alarms went off at the building around 8:30 a.m. .

The cause is still under investigation, but the building is under renovation and investigators believe welding work may be the culprit.

Automatic sprinklers were set off on all four floors of the museum, containing the fire which was then extinguished by firefighters.

The building sustained moderate water damage on all four floors, with the top two sustaining moderate smoke damage.

About 50 firefighters were at the gallery.

The museum currently holds some 3,000 artworks, primarily American and European.

Cost Action C17: List of International Fire Incidents in Historic Buildings

1We publish a list of International Fire Incidents in Historic Buildings: Compiled by Ingval Maxwell and published in the Cost C17 proceedings.

Significant losses have occurred to the built heritage, and its contents, through the effects of fire have been experienced world-wide over the years. In the USA, it is estimated that over the period 1980 – 1993 some 30,000 heritage related fires occurred, amounting to a level of loss in the region of $40 million in value. In these properties, only one third had detection apparatus, and less than 10% were fitted with sprinkler protection.

In Canada, with an average of 30 incidents per annum, some 316 museum, art gallery and library fires occurred between 1982 and 1993, creating an estimated loss of almost $17 million. Other incidents, such as that at St George’s

  • Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia revealed the vulnerability of major historic structures to fire. Here, arson by children caused $3 million worth of fire damage in June 1994. In line with other countries, the Canadian authorities are concerned about the level of loss.

Illustrating the scale of this loss, the following list has been compiled from a variety of printed sources, including newspapers, magazines, the web and through personal contacts. Particular attention was paid to compiling as much information as possible over the duration of COST Action C17 – from the beginning of 2003 to the end of 2006.

Pre 2000 Significant Historic Fires in Heritage Properties

1. Alesund, Norway 800 buildings destroyed 23 January 1904 11000 people left homeless, rebuilt in 4 years (Journal of Scottish Architecture ARCA 1 May 1999 p69/71) (Web page 13 March 2002)

2. Empire Theatre, Nicholson Street, Edinburgh 1892 music hall stage and orchestra pit destroyed 9 May 1911. Auditorium survived due to use of innovative safety curtain AHSS Journal Spring 2004 p19 Article by John Knight: “The Edinburgh Empire Fire of 1911”

3. Stadtkirche, Bremgarter, Switzerland 1249. Spire fire during restoration 24 March 1984. Arson E-mail Daniel Rusch, Zurich 190 Oct 2005

4. Proveantgarden, Copenhagen, Denmark February 1992 Stored materials fire

5. Odd Fellow Palace, Copenhagen (1795), Denmark April 1992. Cigarette fire

6. Christianborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark First burnt down 1794 (Rebuilt 1810) Main Palace burnt down1884

7. C hristianborg Palace Church, Copenhagen, Denmark 1826 (Restored 1996) Stray firework, burnt down June 1992 Cost 110 million Dkr (£5m) (Europa Nostra Awards 1998 brochure)

8. Redoutensal, Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria November 1992. Cause unknown. Cost £60m COST Action C17: Built Heritage: Fire Loss to Historic Buildings: Final Report Part 2

9. Lundby Church, Goteborg, Sweden February 1993. Arson

10. Yuma Art Museum, Yuma City, Arizona, USA Replacement cost $2.5 million1993

11. C hurch of Madonna della Grazie, Bellinzona Fire gutted 31 December 1996 KGS PBC PCP Forum 3/2003 p 36 – 43

12. US Treasury Building, Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, USA (1869) Roofing repairs fire/water damage 26 June 1996

13. Altstadt, Junkerngasse 35-43, Berne Switzerland Major fire in historic centre of WHS destroyed 30 January 1997 KGS PBC PCP Forum 3/2003 p 22 – 29

14. St Brandon’s Parish Church, Brancepeth, Durham, England 12th – 15th C Major fire, totally gutted 16 September 1998, Restored February 2004 (£3.4 million) Ecclesiastical and Heritage World Issue 17, February 2004

15. C athedral, Turin, during preparations to show the Turin Shroud, Chapel 1998 Possible electrical fault causing major structural fire damage to drum and cupola (Reconstruction scheme) AJ 20 December 2004

16. 18th C Masonic Lodge, Saffron Walden, Essex, England. 1720. Almost totally destroyed 12 July 1999

17. Pont de la Chapelle Lucerne, Switzerland 1300 AD bridge destroyed 18 August 1993. Approx 30% saved, remainder since reinstated with fitted fire protection. Cost £2.2m

18. Bridgeport Train Depot, Huntsville, USA

1917. Fire gutted almost-complete 3-year $350,000 renovation programme on 11 September 1999. NFPA e-mail details, 10 November 1999.

19. N orwegian Stave Kirks 40 churches destroyed by fire 1992-94. Arson. Prior to 1992 loss rate ran at 1 church per year. (Europa Nostra Newsletter No. 2 / 2000)

20. Kulla of Jashar Pasha, Kosovo Early 19th C, destroyed by ‘local Serbs directed by civilians’ in May 1999 (US ICOMOS Newsletter No. 4 July-August 2000)


1. Tangley House, Hampshire, England Life and house loss, February 2000. Brief details included in article on the Colvin Fire Prevention Trust. (Autumn 2003 edition of Historic House (p22))

2. S t Paul’s Church Deptford, England 1712-30 Major internal fire during works in progress resulting from an electrical failure May 2000 (One month after rehabilitation work started) (Building Design 15 April 2005) (Article on completed project)

3. All Saint’s Church, West Dulwich, England 1892 Electrical fault leading to loss of roof, windows and damage to masonry. £5.9 million refurbishment programme completed 2005. (Museums and Heritage Issue 1 /2005)

4. Lexington Presbyterian Church, Lexington, Virginia, USA 1850 Completely fire destroyed 18 July 2000 as a result of hot-work paint-stripping off the wood. $2.5 million damage. Spire collapse and interior gutted. Web page


1. University of Kentucky Administration Building, USA 1882 Major fire damage to interior 15 May 2001. Archival records partially saved and taken to drying centre in Chicago. Web page

2. Sophieshal, Vienna, Austria Early 20th C fire gutted interior resulting from roofing works. August 2001 E-mail contact August 2001 and WWW details

3. Salem United Methodist on Linden Church, Allentow, USA c1900 Badly damaged resulting from Copper roofing repair works 22 August 2001 E-mail contact 25 August 2001

4. DownTown, Nassau, Bahamas Bay Street Market, c1700 Pompey Museum (part) and British Colonial Hotel destroyed 5 September

5. Sodra Rada historic Church dating from 1310. October 2001 Accidental fire leading to destruction of church decorated with medieval paintings SPAB News Vol. 24 No 2 May 2003

6. S t John’s Anglican Church, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada. 1753 Virtually destroyed 1 November 2001. Halloween arson E-mail contact and web page South Shore Genealogical Society 12 November 2001

7. Peterborough Cathedral, England Severe smoke damage to medieval painted ceiling and organ. Suspected arson 22 November 2001 Web page 23 November 2001

8. C athedral of St John the Devine, New York City, USA Serious roof fire, E-mail contact 18 December 2001

9. S t Ignatius Chapel, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA 1889 Fire gutted burnt out shell: 16 December 2001 National Historic Landmarks Network, Vo. V No. 1 Spring 2002


1. Fairmount Waterworks, Philadelphia, USA 1815 Extent of fire damage unknown no structural damage: 1 January 2002. Completed major $27 million Building refurbishment September 2001 with restaurant due to open Spring 2002 E-mail contact 2 January 2002

2. 61 Bridge Street, Chester Rows, Chester, England from 17th C January 2002 fire in block resulting in 2 historic buildings being seriously fire damaged (Article by Steve Emery, English Heritage) Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal p20 February 2004

3. C inematheque Francaise Archive, Paris, France National Archive of historical Cinema documentation (12,382 storage boxes of items), Bibliotheque du Film, destroyed by fire 22 January 2002 at a storage firm (Recall Intradis), Roye, Near Paris Sight and Sound p24-25 August 2002

4. Quarantine Station isolation hospital, North Head, Sydney, Australia 1832 February 2002 Destroyed following 2nd blaze in weeks. SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

5. C asulon Plantation two-storey Antebellum house, Walton County, Good Hope National Register of Historic Places house, USA 1824 Intense fire 26 March 2002 in Heart-pine structure. Suspected arson E-mail contact 28 March 2002

6. Burakuden Hall, Muko, Japan. Early 15th C wooden shrine. September 2002 Part destroyed SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003


1. C hariot of Glory, the Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia. January 2003 Severe damage in 8 hour fire after being hit by firework SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

2. Dzerzhinsky Naval college, St Petersburg Admiralty Complex, St Petersburg, Russia. 18th C. January 2003 Severe damage in 8 hour fire SPAB News Vol. 24 No 2 May 2003

3. Luneville Chateau, NE France. Baroque mansion. January 2003 Destroyed, suspect electrical fault SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

4. Londonderry, Tilly & Henderson Shirt Factory, Northern Ireland. January 2003 Demolished after a series of fires SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

5. Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Mount Stromlo Observatory, Cotter Road, Weston ACT 2611, Canberra, Australia. Significant fire loss of astronomical observatories 17 January 2003 during major bushfire resulting in:

• Yale-Columbia Dome destroyed

• The Great 50” Melbourne Telescope destroyed

• Workshops destroyed

• The 30” Reynolds Telescope Dome destroyed

• The 74” Dome destroyed

• The Old Uppsala Schmidt Dome destroyed

• Oddie Telescope Dome destroyed

• Laser Range Station destroyed

• Administration Building destroyed

• The Library destroyed

• Directors Residence destroyed

• Tea Room destroyed

• Web page photo record from Bradley Warren


6. W est Side Snyder Town Square, Surry County, Texas, USA 1905 building fire destroyed and collapsed February 2003 (In recent years nearby Newton County Courthouse also badly fire damaged) Web page

7. Brighton West Pier, England 1866. Arson March and May 2003 Part destroyed SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

8. Holme House, Burnley, Lancashire, England from 15th C. April 2003 Severe damage after being targeted by arsonists twice in two weeks SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

9. Glienicke Jagschloss 17thC hunting lodge, Berlin, Germany April 2003 Roof and upper floors destroyed due to hot-work in progress SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

10. N ew Zealand Fire Service Report 15 historic buildings destroyed by fire each year 93% lacking any fire detection systems SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

11. Pincents Maor Hotel Cruck Barn, Calcot, Berkshire, England. June 2003 15th C barn destroyed in 35 minutes SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 4 November 2003

12. North Carolina State Capitol Building, USA 1840. Near miss fire during hot working on copper roof. Limited damage affecting Old House and Senate Chamber COST C17 web page 18 July 2003

13. Oxney Grange, Peterborough, England August 2003 14th C empty house badly damaged. Suspected arson. SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 4 November 2003

14. Pratapur Temple, Swyambhunath Budhist Shrine, Kathmandu, Nepal 1646. Temple interior and contents destroyed. WH site. The Times 7 August 2003

15. National Motorcycle Museum and Display Areas, Solihull, England (Opened 1984) 600 out of 850 motorcycles destroyed in £8m fire 15 September 2003; 3 of 5 display areas and 2 of 13 conference hall ruined to £6m value. Suspected cigarette end at goods entrance. 12-18 month recovery anticipated. Museums Journal, p9. October 2003

16. Babington House Spa Building, Frome, Somerset, England Grade II listed Fire damaged reception area and roof. Suspected electrical fault 9 October 2003 Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

17. Bridges of Madison County, House, USA (Film links) Suspected arson in serial attacks

• Wooden House destroyed 6 October 2003

• Wooden Bridge destroyed 2002

• Wooden Bridge destroyed September 2003

Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

18. West Kenzie Street Warehouse, Chicago West Side Historic Park District, USA Warehouse damaged in large fire 9 October 2003 Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

19. Babington Hall, Frome, Somerset, England Georgian Grade II listed (Hotel and spa) Suspected electrical fault fire damaged reception area and spa Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

20. Thingwall Hall, Liverpool, England 1848 Grade II listed Suspected arson, severe damage to 1st and 2nd Floors 5 November 2003 Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

21. National Gallery, London, England Basement storeroom 25% destroyed 7 November 2003. No art works damaged. Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

22. Presbyterian Church, Front Street, Exeter, Mass, USA 1845 Furnace explosion leading to loss of timber building 24 November 2003 (Fire Station less than 1 minute away) Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

23. The Elm, 9093 Elk Grove Blvd, Sacramento, USA Basement fire in 100 year old wooden building caused by vagrant, extinguished by sprinkler system 16 December 2003 E-mail S Kidd/NFPA 18 December 2003

24. C hrist Church, Ebbw Vale, South Wales Grade II listed Spire badly fire damaged December 2003 Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal p5 February 2004

25. 19th CHay Shed St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life, Cardiff. 1870 (acquired 1977) Grade II listed. Roof and contents destroyed. Arson. BBC News/South East Wales


1. 300 Spring Street, Jefferson, USA Several buildings in city block, including 1880’s building recently renovated at a cost of $1 million, destroyed 11 January 2004 Web page

2. C rown Public House, Sandon, Essex, England 18th C Severe damage to single storey extension following kitchen fire 7 January 2004 Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal p4 February 2004

3. T he Blue Anchor Public House, Aberthaw, South Glamorgan, Wales 600 year-old thatched public house. Severely fire damaged in kitchen chimney fire. 20 February 2004 Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal p3 March 2004

4. Kosovo Violence 19 March 2004 E-mail from Gustavo Araoz [] ICOMOS US 19 March 2004

Dear Bureau and Executive Committee, Unfortunately since Wednesday, there have been renewed clashes in Kosovo and again heritage has apparently been also a victim. According to an article I found this morning on Agence France Presse – over 16 churches have already been destroyed – some from medieval times. There have also been attacks on mosques in Serbia-Montenegro – but I do not know whether any of these are historic buildings. I am writing to our colleagues of ‘Cultural heritage without borders’ based in Sweden who have an office in Kosovo and have been working there for years now to get some more information. With best regards Gaia

Extract from article.

‘Wednesday night, Serbian demonstrators burned mosques and other Muslim buildings in the three largest Serbian cities, including the capital of Belgrade. Press releases informed that the violence in Kosovo is spreading to Serbia, where on Thursday, thousands of Serbs blocked access to Novi Sad in the northern region of Voivodine’ ‘Mercredi soir, des manifestants serbes ont brûlé des mosquées et autres bâtiments musulmans dans les trois plus grandes villes de Serbie, dont la capitale Belgrade. Les violences du Kosovo déteignent sur la Serbie, où des milliers de Serbes ont bloqué jeudi soir un grand axe près de Novi Sad, en Voïvodine dans le nord du pays, ont rapporté des agences de presse’

Main article Friday 19 March 2004, 8h09

  • Kosovo: 16 églises serbes détruites, 31 personnes tuées agrandir la photo BELGRADE (AFP) – Sixteen
  • Orthodos Serb monasteries and churches, most of them jewels of medieval architecture, were destroyed in Kosovo since the outbreak of violence Wednesday, announced the Orthodox Church. A previous estimate, released in the afternoon of Thursday, listed fourteen demolished churches. Since then, Albanian extremists have burned the Orthodox churches of Donja Slapasnica and Brnjak. Manifestations against anti-Serbian violence are expected on Friday throughout central Serbia. In Pristina, UN guards and soldiers of the Multinational Forces (Kfor) used tear gas on Thursday to disperse groups of Albanians setting the Church of St Nicholas on fire. According to the Church, all religious buildings in Prizren (Southwest) and its surroundings were burned: the Churches of

• Bogorodika Ljeviska (11th century),

• St George,

• St Geroge Runovis & Saint Spas,

• the Monastery of the Holy Archangel and

• the Episcopal Palace.

Among the other buildings demolished are the churches of:

• St Uros in Urosevac,

• St Nicholas in Kosovo Polje,

• St Catherine in Bresje, St Nichiolas in Belo Polje,

• St John in Pec,

• the Ascension in Djakovica and

• St Nichilas in Gnjilane.

In addition, the church of St Ilija in Vucitrn and the Devic Monastery were also burnt. This information was not contained in the church press release. Since 1999, more than 150 Serb churches and monasteries have been destroyed in Kosovo by the Albanians, According to a UN estimate, 31 have died and 500 wounded in the Kosovo violence since Wednesday. Hundreds of Serbs have been evacuated by the UN Mission in Kosovo (Minuk) and the NATO forces (Kfor). More manifestations are expected …..

5. Central Manezh Exhibition Hall, Red Square, Moscow, Russia Monument to Russia’s victory over Napoleon in 1812. Destroyed March 2004 Moscow City Government allegedly demolishing decaying historic buildings to make way for new safe development. SPAB News Vol. 25 No 2 May 2004

6. Wardington Manor, Oxfordshire, England Grade II. 16thC -1920. Extensive damage to medieval wing. 16 April 2004 SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 26 Number 4 2005

7. Fleece Inn, Bretford, Worcestershire, England 14th C NT owned. Chimney fire spreading to thatched roof and first floor SPAB News Vol. 25 No. 2 May 2004

8. Howfields, Stapleford Tawney, Essex Late 17th C house. Empty since c1980’s. Destroyed by fire in 2003. SPAB News Vol. 25 No. 2 May 2004

9. Anna Amalia Library, Weimar, Germany World Heritage Site. Severe fire damage 2 September 2004, damaging the roof, Rococo Hall (1761-66) and 40,000 books Various press reports September 2004

10. Biedenharn Museum, Riverside Drive, Monroe, USA Arson attack 27 September 2004. Office destroyed with extensive smoke and water damage elsewhere. Conservation DistList Inst 14 October 2004

11. Hafodunos Hall, Llangernyw, North Wales 1861-66 Grade 1 Listed designed by George Gilbert Scott. Badly neglected and due for restoration with enabling development for 90 holiday homes, totally destroyed by fire early October 2004. Suspected arson. AJ 28 October 2004

12. Harbin New Synagogue, Harbin, China 1921 1,233 sq m building for 800 worshipers undergoing restoration prior to opening as museum of Jewish history and culture. Half of newly restored dome destroyed. Fire started by construction workers 11 November 2004. NFPA e-mail 11 November 2004

13. G retzenbach, Switzerland Underground garage fire with roof collapse killing 7 fire-fighters. No sprinkler installation, 27 November 2004 Numerous news agencies. Eurosprinkler e-mail 29 November 2004

14. Ditzingen, Germany Garage fire 25 cars destroyed. 27 November 2004 Eurosprinkler e-mail 29 November 2004

15. L aSalle Bank Building, 135 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, USA 1930’s high rise un-sprinklered building. Fire started on 29th floor and extended to the 30th floor. 6 December 2004 Eurosprinkler e-mail 8 December 2004

16. L aurel Grove Baptist Church, Fairfax County USA. 1884 clapboard church destroyed Washington Post 23 December 2004


1. W eisbaden SCA (Multi-national Paper Co.) Works Fire Station; Germany Fire started in power charger in brigade equipment building resulting in severe damage to equipment and building. Eurosprinkler e-mail 21 January 2005

2. Ulm-Wiblingen Volunteer Fire Station, Germany Short circuit created a roof fire causing 50,000 Euro damage Eurosprinkler e-mail 21 January 2005

3. S t Johannis Church, Gotteingen, Germany The Göttingen fire brigade in Germany reports that fire has destroyed the north tower of the recently renovated St. Johannis church. The fire broke out early on Sunday 23 January 2005 and rapidly spread to the church tower. The fire brigade extinguished the fire in the 72 metre high tower but special cranes had to be brought in to lift off the heavy weathervane before it fell. In April the 14th century church was to celebrate the end of a €7.3 million renovation programme. Fortunately nobody was hurt. A young man and a boy have been arrested and admitted arson. Eurosprinkler e-mail 24 January 2005

4. Allerton Castle, North Yorkshire The BBC reports that on Saturday 22 January 2005 fire broke out at Allerton Castle in North Yorkshire. Over 100 fire-fighters attended but were unable to prevent the collapse of the roof and first floor. Allerton Castle is the most important Gothic Revival stately home in England and is the 18th century home of Prince Frederick, the Duke of York. Eurosprinkler e-mail 24 January 2005

5. 5 storey building, Place Kleber, Central Strasbourg, France Fire started in ground floor Patisserie and spread rapidly up lift shaft to others floors and the roof. 22 February 2005 Eurosprinkler e-mail 7 March 2005

6. Maison Sainte Germaine Home, 15th Arrondissement, Porte de Versailles, Paris, France 2nd floor bedroom fire attended by 100 fire-fighters on 5 April. 1 fatality. Eurosprinkler e-mail 7 April 2005

7. Naksan-sa Buddhist Temple, Yangyang, South Korea. 1,300 year old temple destroyed in forest fire engaging thousands of fire-fighters 200km east of Seoul. The Times 6 April 2005

8. Pierre et Vacances Hotel, Val Thorens, France Unsprinklered hotel totally destroyed after kitchen fire on 12 April 2005. Eurosprinkler e-mail 18 April 2005

9. Paris-Opera Hotel Paris, 9th Arrondissement, Paris, France 22 people killed, 60 injured in major fire on 15 April 2005 in 6 storey building with 1 staircase. Eurospinkler e-mail 15 April 2005

10. Hotel Carnot, Nancy, France 2 people killed in fire in town centre hotel. Eurospinkler e-mail 28 April 2005

11. T ote Building, Catford, London Totally fire gutted 1930’s unique building (just proposed for listing) suspected arson. 19 May 2005 Building design 27 May 2005

12. Rand Club, Johannesburg, South Africa 105 year old building and contents destroyed 16 June 2005. Founded in 1897 by Cecil Rhodes, housed many relics of early days of South Africa’s industrial development. Suspected electrical fault. Scotsman 17 June 2005

13. N ortham Library, Devon, England Total loss of building and 90% books. Fire thought to have started by sun’s rays setting fire to leaflets through action of a hands-free magnifier. The Times 17 June 2005

14. Biblical Art Centre Museum, North Dallas, USA Major fire involving 120 fire-fighters 28 June 2005. Multi-million dollar fire with many works of art lost, included the Miracle at Penticost. Eurosprinkler e-mail 4 July 2005

15. US Museum losses Between 1999 and 2002 some 60 museum fires were reported annually at a combined loss of $1million/ annum. Faulty electrical equipment was considered the main cause. – John Hall Assistant Vice-president for Fire Analysis and Research, NFPA. Eurosprinkler e-mail 4 July 2005

16. S chloss Elmau, Kruen, Bavaria, Germany Major fire destroyed most of 1916 hotel 7 August 2005. Fire started with faulty electric blanket. Damage estimated at millions of Euros Eurosprinkler e-mail 8 August 2005

17. S t Mary’s Lodge, Stoke Newington, London, England c1840 Victorian mansion in Conservation Area. Considerable internal fire damage 17 August 2005. Inconclusive cause. SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 26 Number 4c 2005

18. C ottages, Stanford in the Vale, Oxfordshire, England 17th C listed 6 cottage row thatched roof fire. Low pressure water hindered fire fighting operations SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 1 2006

19. Little Choppins, Suffolk, EnglandGrade II listed 15th C timber framed open hall farmhouse suffered thatch roof fire thought to be caused by sparks from wood burning stove. Roof destroyed Summer 2005. SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 1 2006

20. M cKinney Cotton Mill, Texas USA Roof fire successfully extinguished by 5 year old sprinkler system in 100 year old cotton mill Texas Courier Gazette 29 August 2005

21. 8 rue du Roi, 3rd Arrondissement, Paris, France 5 storey apartment block accidental fire killed 7 people. Used as a squat by immigrants. Purchased by city authorities and due renovation 29 August 2005 Similar fire occurred 25th August killing 17 people Eurosprinkler e-mail 30 August 2005

22. S outhend Pier, Essex, England 1889 – 1929. 1.3 mile long Victorian Pleasure Pier: 130 feet destroyed by fire. Suspected arson. 9 October 2005 The Scotsman 11 October 2005

23. Aardman Animation Warehouse, Bristol, England Victorian listed warehouse and 30 year history of film production (Wallace and Gromit) destroyed in gutted building. 12 October 2005 The Scotsman 11 October 2005

24. G artenstadt Railway Museum, Nuremberg, Germany 1,500m2 Hall destroyed (roof collapsed) with 24 trains badly damaged or destroyed 16 October 2005. Eurosprinkler e-mail 24 October 2005

25. T he Reluctant Panther Inn & Restaurant, Manchester, Vermont, USA 3 storey 1850’s wooden structure totally destroyed 29 October 2005.

26. S chool fires in the UK – Report in Civic and Public Building Specifier October 2005 p16-17 2,000 schools damaged by fire each year with 70% being caused by arson. Costing £55million/annum (Peaking in 2002 at £97million) Every week a school is lost to fire A school has a 1 in 8 chance of a fire each year 25% of all major fires are in schools 50% of all offenders guilty of arson are aged 15-19 years Half of all school fires start during the day

27. T rinity School, West 91st Street, New York, USA Founded in 1709. Fire established in 2 rooms 13 November 2005 resulting in smoke damage to 200 boxes of paper archives. NY Times 4 December 2005

28. G asthofs Lowen, Oberrohrdorf, Switzerland 200 year old redundant restaurant destroyed as a result of (children) arson: 20 November 2005 E-mail Daniel Rusch, Zurich 22 November 2005

29. S candic Bergen City Hotel, Bergen, Norway Small room fire set by drunken arsonist. 26-27 November 2005. Extinguished by sprinkler system (modern building) Eurosprinkler e-mail 28 November 2005

30. 20 Avenue Mathurin Moreau, 19th Arrondissement, Paris, France Fire in 8 storey apartment building, 10 injured. 2 apartments and a lift destroyed 29 November 2005 Eurosprinkler e-mail 1 December 2005

31. L ord Northbrook’s Country House, Woodlands Hampshire, England 80% roof and 1st Floor, and 50% ground floor destroyed in accidental fire. Severe difficulty in obtaining water due to remote location. 4 December 2005 The Times 5 December 2005

32. Redwood Library and Athenaeum storage facility at Dedham, Massachusetts, USA 2 adjacent buildings to temporary storage facility destroyed by fire and Library archive of 500 Colonial maps and 4,999 17th-18th C books badly water damaged 6 December 2005. NFPA e-mail 6 December 2005

33. C onverted Barn, Kallnach, Berne, Switzerland Converted timber barn into apartments. Suspected candle fire. Building unable to be saved. 12 December 2005 Eurosprinkler e-mail 20 December 2005

34. Hilton Hotel, Central Brussels, Belgium Single room fire on 14th floor controlled by sprinkler. Minor damage. 17 December 2005 Eurosprinkler e-mail 20 December 2005

35. Former Hotel Royal Splendid d’Aix-les-Bains, France Converted 5 storey apartment block of 15 apartments destroyed and may require demolition. 17 December 2005 Eurosprinkler e-mail 20 December 2005

36. Peterhof Summer Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia 19th C Palace badly damaged and gutted during restoration work. No cause identified. 22 December 2005 A J Gallagher & Co e-mail 28 December 2005


1. Pilgrim Baptist Church, 3301 S. Indiana Avenue, Chicago, USA Louis Sullivan 1891 Church (originally a Synagogue) Chicago Landmark destroyed 6 January 2006. Chicago Tribune 7 January 2006

2. 5 storey Apartment building, Canebiere, Central Marseilles, France Major fire from central stairway. 25 injured. Eurosprinkler e-mail 13 January 2006

3. Historic Farm, Reinertonishof, Schonwald (Schwarzwald-Baar-Kreis) Germany 400 year old Hapsburg farm destroyed by arson by 2 youths who cut down tress on access road to hinder access by Fire Brigade 21 January 2006. Damage estimated at Euro millions. Eurosprinkler e-mail 25 January 2006

4. S an Cristobal de la Laguna, Tenerife, Spain 17th C baroque Casa de Salazar, residence of the Bishop of Tenerife. Part of World Heritage Site of la Laguna. Destroyed and neighbouring Diocesan Library and National University of Distance Learning damaged 23 January 2006. Suspected electrical fault. Fire-fighting access hindered by railings in front of building. COST C17 member e-mail 24 January and Eurosprinkler e-mail 25 January 2006

5. Vosshaus, Eutin, Lubech, Germany 18th C home of Rector Johann-Heinrich Voss (now Hotel and Restaurant) Badly damaged with loss of many valuable paintings 29 January 2006. Cause unknown. Damage estimated at Euro millions. Eurosprinkler e-mail 31 January 2006

6. Komsomolskaya Pravda Newspaper Offices, Pressa Complex, Ulitsa Pravdy, Moscow, Russia 1930’s Soviet Brutalist-style offices 80% damaged in $2 million fire. Banned literature library, photo archive and Stalin’s show trials transcripts destroyed in major blaze 14 February 2006. 15 February 2006 The Moscow Times 15 February 2006

7. Tithe Barn, Frindsbury, Rochester, Kent, England 14th C Grade I listed 13-bay barn subjected to second fire (first fire 4 years ago destroyed 4 of the 13 bays) Possible arson 14 February 2006. SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 1 2006

8. Honeypot Hill Farm, Suffolk, England Grade II listed early 16th C cottage destroyed by fire thought caused by heat from wood-burning stove. SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 1 2006

9. Bonded Warehouse, Quayside, Newcastle, England Listed 19th C warehouse destroyed by fire 24 March 2006. BBC News update 24 March 2006

10. Beaulieu Tide Mill, New Forrest, England Grade II Listed 16th C tide mill recently renovated. 80% roof destroyed. Arson. March 2006. SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 2 2006

11. S t Michaels and All Angels Church, Newburn, Newcastle, England Grade I listed 11th C tower and Norman Nave + Chancel. Roof destroyed, interior and Belfry severely damaged. March 2006 SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 2 2006

12. C hurches in England and Wales ODPM Arson report to SPAB: 112 incidents in 2004, 148 incidents in 2003, 103 incidents in 2002, 215 incidents in 1994  ODPM Accidental fires report to SPAB;

  • 93 incidents in 2004
  • 74 incidents in 2003
  • 92 incidents in 1999
  • 93 incidents in 1995
  • 40 incidents in 1994

SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 2 2006

13. Hotel Central, Rue de Meaux, 19th Arrondissement, Paris, France Fire spread from 2nd to 5th storey, 1 person killed, 1 April 2006 Eurosprinkler e-mail 4 April 2006

14. Thatched Cottage, East Boldre, New Forest, Hampshire, England Single storey cottage severely damaged by fire. No suspicious circumstances. Occupants (Ken Russell) alerted by smoke alarm. 3 April 2006 The Scotsman 4 April 2006

15. Thatched Cottage, Lower Shiplake, Oxfordshire, England £3m newly renovated thatched cottage containing oak beams from one of Nelson’s ships, destroyed by fire 8 April 2006. Cause unknown. Metro 10 April 2006

16. Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, Viking Bay, Broadstairs, England Built 1810 privately owned house, formerly Dickens house and museum. Badly damaged by fire 9 April 2006. BBC News web site 9 April 2006

17. Porvoo Cathedral, Finland 13thC Cathedral roof destroyed and gable wall left unstable following suspected arson attack 29 May 2006 Eurosprinkler e-mail 30 May 2006

18. Flims Old Town, Graubunden, Eastern Switzerland A quarter of the old town – 14 buildings (7 houses and 7 stalls: 1 building listed of historic significance)

– destroyed at estimated value of €10 million (10-15 million Swiss Francs), on 7 June 2006. Cause unknown Eurosprinkler e-mail 9 June 2006

19. Trinity Cathedral, St Petersburg, Russia 1835. Major fire leading to total loss of 80m high dome and cupolas. Work in progress with fire starting on scaffolding 25 August 2006. web posting + e-mail from COST C17 member Miguel Gomez Heras 25 August 2006

20. 6 Burlington Gardens, London, England Formerly Royal Academy Museum of Mankind in adjacent building to the RA. Significant damage to roof of empty building. Cause unknown. 29 August 2006. BBC News web release 30 August 2006

21. E astern Orthodox Church, Kamienica, Bieszczady Region, Poland 1802 wooden church totally destroyed 13 September 2006. Cause unknown COST C17 e-mail from Marian Ornat 16 September 2006

22. Philberts Manoa, East Hanney, Wantage, England 14th C manor house roof badly damaged following chimney fire 5 October 2006. BBC News web release 6 October 2006

23. S hooting Range, Budapest University of Technology and Economy, Budapest, Hungary Ammunition holding rubber wall major fire in University premises in St Gellert Quay No. 1. 3 firemen fatalities and 7 injuries.

Risk of closure for Museum due to Lack of Fire Protection

Maryport Maritime Museum is likely to close following the discovery of a fire risk. Allerdale council’s building control team says the fire escape route is unusable because of access restrictions to the rear of the building, and that a corridor would have to be built between the ground floor stairs and the front door.

The setback was announced less than two months before the voluntary Maritime Heritage Group was due to take over the museum from Maryport Festivals.

The risk was discovered during Allerdale council’s £22,000 renovation of the building in October. But the heritage group claims it is an excuse to force closure of the building, saying that the council, which is pulling funding from the museum to save money, was never really behind it.

Group spokesman Joe Kewin said: “How can Allerdale spend in excess of £20,000 to renovate the museum, continue to ask us to upgrade our business plan and then, at the 11th hour, tell us that the museum can’t open because of a fire risk?

“Surely this was considered by architects and surveyors when they spent a considerable amount of public money”

An Allerdale council spokesman said: “The improvement works needed to be carried out to keep the building in good order. The findings of the fire risk are not an excuse but a legal requirement.”

Article first published by at 11:26, Friday, 12 February 201 by

Last updated at 20:03, Thursday, 01 April 2010

Maryport Maritime Museum has been saved from closure.

Allerdale council, which owns the building, has struck a deal for the Maryport Maritime Heritage Group to take over the running of the museum from Maryport Festivals Ltd.

Joe Kewin, spokesman for the Maryport Maritime Heritage Group, said: “We are delighted that Allerdale Borough Council has offered us the Maritime Museum under licence with their full support. We are most grateful for the support shown by the people of Maryport.

“We now need to organise the necessary administrative details such as insurances and working procedures before we can formally run the museum, so we anticipate opening around the end of May.

“This means that the museum will temporarily close for two months but people can be safe in the knowledge that when it re-opens it will be in the hands of local enthusiasts who have the funds to ensure it gets off to a good start.”

The Maritime Heritage Group will take care of the museum and its collection on an initial three-month licence with the intention to renew it on a yearly basis.

First published at 11:30, Thursday, 01 April 2010
Published by

NFPA 909 (2010 edition) – Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties – Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worshi


The need for fire standards in cultural resources buildings has been addressed by NFPA 909: Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties – Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship. This Code describes principles and practices of fire safety for cultural resource properties (museums, libraries, and places of worship); their contents; and those who operate, use, or visit them, through a comprehensive fire protection program.

The 2010 Edition adds important addition about security. The main technical changes are:

  • Expansion of the code’s goals and objectives to include ‘hazards other than fire
  • New requirement for a vulnerability assessment
  • New chapters on planning for protection, emergency operations, and security
  • A new annex describing commonly used premises protection systems and equipment

The 2010 Edition deals also with new issues as:

  • Reorganization of requirements pertaining to construction, alteration, addition, and renovation projects into one chapter
  • Addition of design and installation requirements to reduce the risk of corrosion damage in dry-pipe and preaction sprinkler systems
  • New requirements for sprinkler protection inside some exhibit cases
  • Annexes pertaining to renovation of historic structures and fire ratings of archaic materials have been deleted and are now part of NFPA 914: Code for Fire Protection of Historic Structures

Water leak from hydrant in historic library

1On December 23rd, 2009, in the historic library of “Accademia delle Scienze”, inside the Egyptian museum in Turin (Italy), the freezing of water made a valve break and caused a leak from the firefighting water delivery system. The leak has threatened the monumental “Salone dei mappamondi” (Globe room) , where are kept several 16th century globes, together with antique books. The room has fresco paintings from 17th century by Vincenzo Coronelli damaged by water. One of the globes has been interested directly by water.

The water leak has been seen during the 5.50 a.m. security control and has been stopped within one hour. Also firefighters has been called to help limiting water damages.

Even if not directly exposed to leak, important artifacts as the “Papyrus of the Kings” have been moved from a nearby room of the Turin  Egyptian museum, in order to avoid damages  due to the environmental moisture.

Damage Limitation Teams: How to Improve Safety Management in Museums

Management is an important part of fire safety of the built heritage and of cultural resources.  To ensure permanent risk awareness it’s vital to keep documents of premises and collections, to assess artifacts at risk and structures to regularly update documents. Documentation on interventions (training, emergency rescue services‚ near misses, restoration and conservation) and documents of organisation (charts of hierarchy, Management Plans, regulations and controls) are important too.

The execution of exercises of the personnel assigned to limit damage in the event of events that put the historical artifact at risk is essential to deepen the understanding of the operational difficulties that operators would encounter during a real emergency.

Organizing Damage Limitation Teams it’s another part of the strategy. Every structure, in fact, should have the availability of a group of persons who can help rescuers in taking in safe places every object could be damaged by a fire.

Mr Wolfgang Kippes (Schönbrunn Company) explains how fire safety is managed in Wien’s Schönbrunn Castle. The slides that can be downloaded were presented during the 2008 International Conference  in Siena (Italy) Cultural Heritage and Fire Protection Issues:


Is cultural heritage compatible with coffee machines? The TU Delft faculty of Architecture fire case study

TU-Delft The combination of a coffee machine and a broken water pipe led to the destruction of the TU Delft faculty of Architecture, containing one of the world’s finest architectural libraries and a collection of furniture models by Rietveld, Le Corbusier, Adolf Loos, etc.

In particular the fire on May 13, 2008 began at approximately 9:00am when a water leak caused a coffee vending machine, located at the 6th floor of the  southwest wing, to spark, smoke, then finally flame. The building did not have fire sprinklers, but firewalls divided it  into three compartments. Such walls  revealed to be not effective in confining the fire to the compartment of origin.  All building occupants were evacuated safely, but  the fire spread has severely impacted firefighting  operations. As a consequence, the fire has burnt uncontrolled for hours, causing the structural collapse of an important section of the building. In fact, the northwest wing collapsed at 4:40 pm (some  7.5 hours after the first flames were observed) .The damages revealed to be so severe  the building had to be demolished.

West Elevation at 2:35 pm – From West Collapse investigation of the TU Delft faculty of architecture building : preliminary evaluation of member capacities – Elevation at 2:35 pm- Adam Jess Kirk 2010

Luckily firefighters were able to save historic models and books from the library but the building itself was lost with its content, a loss for culture and heritage anyway.

An interesting thesis by Dr Adam Jess Kirk concerning the analysis of the  the building and fire together with an overview of available methods for calculating the ultimate strength of reinforced concrete members at elevated temperatures has been published by the University of Texas at Austin.  In the document a preliminary models of the fire have been also developed and applied to selected structural elements.