Fire is a major hazard affecting cultural heritage assets around the world. Although it may seem a rare event from a single institution’s perspective, large fires are far more frequent when considering the total heritage of a nation. Furthermore, their impact is typically catastrophic, causing total or almost total loss in the affected cultural property. The majority of fires affecting heritage institutions can be avoided or greatly reduced by proper maintenance and safety procedures. In order to prevent fire disasters, emergency preparedness is essential but it must not be the only strategy. There is a clear need to promote more effective legislation and policies, to stimulate research and the use of appropriate fire safety technologies, to create a fire prevention culture in heritage organizations, and to raise awareness in society about this issue.
This declaration contains the recommendations set forth by a specialist forum to address the aforementioned needs. The forum took place during the International Seminar “Heritage on fire: who ́s next? Fire risk management for cultural heritage” (26-28 June 2019, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil). It was composed by over thirty specialists from eight countries, covering a diverse range of fields and disciplines, including heritage managers, cultural first-aiders, conservators, researchers, fire legislation specialists, fire engineers, fire chiefs, heritage risk assessors and insurance experts.