Fire Risk Assessment for Collections in Museums

Fire Risk Assessment for Collections in Museums (Jean Tétreault). Journal of the Canadian Association for Conservation (J. CAC), Volume 33 © Canadian Association for Conservation, 2008.

Loss of collections in museums can be significant during a fire. It is important that museums put control measures in place to prevent a fire, to detect a fire, and to respond quickly if a fire does occur. To evaluate potential collection losses due to fire over a certain period of time, substantial information is required and there is little quantitative data for fires in museums. It was decided to obtain this data by collecting fire museum records from Canadian fire authorities as well as from fire authorities in other countries and by consulting with experts. This project has resulted in establishing fire Control Levels for museums and in creating a set of reference materials to help risk assessors evaluate the potential collection losses due to a fire. According to experts consulted in this study, having an active fire safety committee composed of staff and management is one of the key elements in fire prevention. Such a committee helps promote awareness and identify problems, as well as propose solutions and ensure that these solutions are applied to minimize risk of fire in an institution. For optimal protection, museums are encouraged to have a fire alarm system that is monitored continuously as well as an automatic fire suppression system.