Fire risk management for cultural heritage

International seminar | Rio de Janeiro, 26-28 June 2019



Heritage on fire: who’s next? Fire risk management for cultural heritage


Heritage on fire: who’s next? Fire risk management for cultural heritage

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 can become routine 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. Recent examples include the Glasgow School of Arts (United Kingdom, 2014 and 2018), the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences (Russian Federation, 2015), Mzuzu University Library (Malawi, 2015), India’s National Museum of Natural History (2016), New York’s Saint Sava Cathedral (United States of America, 2016), Jakarta’s Maritime Museum (Indonesia, 2018), Brazil’s National Museum (2018), Paris's Notre-Dame Cathedral (2019).

The majority of fires affecting heritage institutions have internal causes, and can be avoided or greatly reduced through 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 the use of new fire safety technologies, and help create a fire prevention culture in heritage organizations.     

Heritage on fire: who’s next? Fire risk management for cultural heritage

The seminar will address these pressing issues, underlining the key role that decision makers must play in preventing disaster fires. Fire statistics and their implications for effective decision-making, experiences from different countries and contexts in managing fire risks, and state-of-the-art fire safety measures for application in cultural heritage will be discussed. Contributions will be sought from a diverse range of fields and disciplines, including heritage managers and authorities, cultural first-aiders, conservators, fire legislation specialists, fire engineers, fire chiefs, heritage risk assessors, and insurance experts. A visit to Brazil’s National Museum will be organized to provide a first-hand view of the ongoing actions to re-establish its prominent role as a heritage and research institution in the country and internationally.

A specialist forum will take place at the end of the seminar to set forth meaningful recommendations concerning fire risk reduction in cultural heritage. This will provide a concrete output to support policy changes and ensure wide dissemination of results.

Target audience: heritage authorities, heritage managers, national fire protection agencies, museum directors, museum designers, heritage management educators, etc.

Details of the programme can be downloaded from here

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Heritage on fire: who’s next? Fire risk management for cultural heritage


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International Seminar - Heritage on fire: who’s next?