The Notre Dame Cathedral fire is an iconic event and deserves to be studied appropriately. In the following text will be presented some considerations based on the information available on the internet.
Following at least 30 years of tragic fires that have destroyed several important cultural resources all over the world, such an important renovation site should have been followed with the utmost care. That does not mean that fire could not start but that a different outcome could have been reasonably expected if a fire happened. So, in order to better understand what really happened and, more important, why it happened (the site does not have access to direct information), in the following sections, articles and posts containing information and news about the fire will be quoted, together with the available information about the context, and the fire extinguishing operations carried out by the Paris Fire Brigade.
The roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (France) is burning. The images that TV’s are broadcasting show high flames and no real possibility to extinguish them. The roof is too high from the ground to let firefighters try to extinguish the fire from the external part of the building and inside the building perhaps the conditions do not allow any significative possibility to limit damages.
At the moment, the cause of the fire seems to be identified in the ongoing maintenance or restoration works. If this were the reason, it would be extremely serious that a historic building of such importance was the object of works without the necessary caution in limiting the risk of fire. it is universally known, in fact, that fires due to maintenance or restoration works are among the most disastrous for cultural buildings and that the most serious damages suffered by cultural heritage are due precisely to fires.
Earthquakes pose a big threat to cultural and heritage buildings. Normally, historic buildings are more vulnerable to seismic actions than ordinary ones. So, also the artifacts that such buildings normally protect are subject to damages, due to the debris and, sometimes, to fires ignited by earthquakes.
In the April 6th 2009 earthquake in Aquila (Italy), there is at least one recorded case of fire ignited by the earthquake in a historical building (a church in the center of Aquila old town). The most of the damages to cultural heritage in the Aquila earthquake are due to the collapse of the buildings and, for a lesser extent, to the mud that rains have brought the days following the earthquake.
Promedhe has been a project funded by the General-Directorate of the European Commission for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (DG ECHO). The project’s consortium included the Italian Civil Protection Department (DPC) as Coordinator, the Cyprus Civil Defence (CCD), the Palestinan Civil Defence (PCD), the National Emergency Management Agency of Israel (NEMA), the Jordan Civil Defence (JCD) and
ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites), is a global non-governmental organization associated with UNESCO dedicated to the conservation of the world’s monuments and sites. One of its most active areas of interest is, then, the conservation and restoration of sites and monuments. The list of documents concerning such commitment has been published in 1998:
On August 30th, 2019, a large portion of the wooden roof Church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami suddenly collapsed, damaging the interior and some of the paintings and artefacts preserved inside. The event, happened in the most historical part of Rome, has interested a sixteenth century building, whose construction had been funded by the Corporation of the Carpenters.
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.
In three weeks, between January and February 2019, the EU financed STORM (Safeguarding Cultural Heritage through Technical and Organisational Resources Management) project has organised the STORM Academy 2019. The lessons will be held in Rome – National Fire Academy (I.S.A.) and in Viterbo (Tuscia University) by teachers selected among of the partners of the project.
The European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction (EFDRR) forms the regional platform structure of Europe of the UNISDR, the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. The 2018 meeting, of the Forum has been held in Rome on November 21-23.
CURE (Culture in City Reconstruction and Recovery) is a position paper published in 2018 by UNESCO and the World Bank Group that offers, according the foreword (Mr Enrico Ottone and Mr Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez), “a framework on Culture in City Reconstruction and Recovery and operational guidance for policymakers and practitioners for the planning, financing, and implementation phases of post-crisis interventions for city reconstruction and recovery“. Continue reading “CURE: an UNESCO – World Bank Group Position Paper on Cultural Heritage and Reconstruction”
A ferocious fire has devastated – probably destroying the 50 percent irreparably – the School of Art, a masterpiece by the Scottish architect Rennie Mackintosh. The building was famous because, together with works by Victor Horta, Henry Van de Velde, Adolf Loos and the American Louis Sullivan, represented a peak of that style that marked the passage from nineteenth-century eclecticism to modernity, functionalism and even twentieth century rationalism. Continue reading “Second Fire almost Destroys the Glasgow School of Art”
One of the main problems of emergency management in case of damage reported by historic buildings after an earthquake is represented by immediate damage assessment. In fact, nowadays it is not possible to use techniques other than the personal evaluation carried out by first responders.
Protecting Cultural Heritage is mainly aimed at avoiding that any kind of hazard could pose an excessive risk to the objects that must be preserved. There are conditions, nonetheless, that oblige to evacuate the artefacts, since the preventive measures cannot be anymore effective. So, in specific situations, museums and their staff may go through challenging times due both to natural disasters and climate change.
In the case of museums, when they are threatened for their role in protecting and valorizing precious witnesses of the past and human creativity, their intrinsic value for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding must be protected and supported.
When it comes to assess the risks of fire to Cultural Resources buildings or artefacts, normally they are related to buildings. In a consistently smaller number of cases, the scenario is related to a forest or a vegetation fire.
The technical literature concerned with the protection of cultural heritage from the risks of fire rarely takes this issue into account. One of the few documents that fully addresses this aspect is the Wildland Fire report in Ecosystems Effects of Fire on Cultural Resources and Archeology, published by the United States Department of Agricolture. Continue reading “Forest Fire Risks to Cultural Heritage”
Watercolor images are among the most vulnerable artefacts to the effects of firefighting water systems.
According to the NFPA 750 definition, watermist is a water spray for which the 99% of the total volume of liquid (Dv0.99) is distributed in droplets with a diameter smaller than 1000 microns at the minimum design operating pressure of the water mist nozzle.A slightly different definition has been introduced by the CEN/TS 14972, as a water spray for which the 90% of the total volume of liquid (Dv0.90) is distributed in droplets with a diameter smaller than 1000 microns at the minimum design operating pressure of the water mist nozzle. Continue reading “Water Mist and Cultural Heritage: can Simulation Tools help assessing its effect?”
A problem neglected by the most of the studies concerning the protection of Cultural Resources against natural hazards deals with the exposition of archaelogical artefacts to vegetation fire risks. All tangible and intangible cultural assets can be damaged by fires. Thus, archaeological remains are exposed to the risk caused by forest fires.