Forest Fire Risks to Cultural Heritage

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.
In order to deal with the risk induced by vegetation fires, the report divides the types of fire into three main categories:

  • Risk to artefacts caused by vegetation fires;
  • Risk to intangible Cultural Resources caused by vegetation fires;
  • Risk to Cultural Resources caused by fire suppression and rehabilitation activities.

A quick overview of the overall problem (broadly based on the USDA document) of the risks to Cultural Heritage associated with vegetation fires has been the object of a presentation during the 2017 STORM Summer School, held on September 11-13 in Rome.
STORM is an EU Horizon 2020 project financed to enhance the capacity of stakeholders to protect cultural heritage against climate change effects and the course – Emergency Management of Cultural Heritage – has dealt with several issues of protection of Cultural Heritage.

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