Re: Emergency Preparedness Plans During Construction


Some of the biggest disasters in UK cultural institutions (Uppark, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, Alexandra Palace) involved fire. In two cases the use of heat in repair and construction work which had caused nearby timber to smoulder and catch fire several hours later when the building was unattended. So the first rule is to have very strong rules about hot work (e.g. joining pipes, laying molten seals or roofs, using hot air guns to strip paint). Another cause was a powerful light left switched on, near a curtain. It was switched off remotely, but people didn’t realise it would light up when the circuit was reconnected. They couldn’t see it, but it set the curtain on fire, then the timbers caught and the building suffered major damage.
So electrical equipment MUST be unplugged when left unattended.

Never let a contractor start work without giving you their mobile phone number, in case you need to call them when they have left, on a Friday afternoon, and you discover they left a mains water pipe disconnected… next to an electrical control box.

Insist on contractors giving a written procedure including the tools they will use and agreeing to seek approval from a specific named person before making any changes, unlike the firm that agreed to use a wet cutting device when making a doorway in a stone wall at the museum to prevent stone dust problems for the museum or passers-by in the street. When they realised the aperture was too small they switched to a dry grinding wheel because they had sent the wet cutter away. The museum filled with a thick fog of stone dust within minutes and passers-by were also exposed to a stream of fine gritty particles.

Golden rule: Think of the worst thing that could happen and don’t let anyone tell you you’re being over-imaginative. It probably has happened in another museum already !
And try this from the Bartlett School in London