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Fire Suppression & Cultural Property. Catherine Nicholson Document Conservation National Archives. Weighing Risk of Fire vs Water. Fires seemed unlikely Fires seemed easy to extinguish Sprinkler leaks seemed more likely Leaks harming collections seemed more likely.

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fire suppression cultural property

Fire Suppression & Cultural Property

Catherine Nicholson

Document Conservation

National Archives

weighing risk of fire vs water
Weighing Risk of Fire vs Water
  • Fires seemed unlikely
  • Fires seemed easy to extinguish
  • Sprinkler leaks seemed more likely
  • Leaks harming collections seemed more likely
museum fire control ca 1978
Museum fire control ca. 1978
  • No sprinklers in exhibits
  • Halon® suppression in museum storage
  • Concern for harmful gasses from Halon®
  • Carbon dioxide in library/archives stacks
materials that must stay dry
Materials that must stay dry
  • Parchment
  • Parchment or tawed leather bindings
  • Paintings
  • Collodion negatives and prints
  • Artifacts made of diverse materials
  • Electronic records
handheld extinguishers
Handheld extinguishers
  • Letters ABCDK code for different types of fires
  • Powder and chemical residues can harm cultural property
  • Clean agents = gas
sprinkler systems
Sprinkler systems
  • Wet pipe
  • Dry pipe
  • Pre-action
  • Discharge water

may contain:

    • Corrosion inhibitors
    • Rust & sediment
  • Recalls
specifying sprinkler systems
Specifying sprinkler systems
  • Sprinkler pipe specification
  • Verify written specifications
  • Verify what is ordered
  • Verify what is installed
sprinklers and storage
Sprinklers and storage
  • Get expert advice on capacity and placement
  • Compact storage level floors don’t drain well
  • Compact storage overnight safety mode ensures sprinkler water access
environmental concerns
Environmental concerns
  • Changing regulations
  • Phase out of chemicals
  • Increased cost
  • Market responds with new options
newer fire suppression gasses
Newer fire suppression gasses
  • Ansul® Inergen® (mix of natural, inert gasses N2, CO2, argon)
  • DuPont™ FM-200® (halogenated)
  • Ansul® Sapphire® uses 3M™ Novec™ 1230 (halogenated)
water mist for fire suppression
Water mist for fire suppression
  • Suggested for use for cultural property
  • Fire tested including at University of Maryland School of Engineering
  • Reduced volume of water released
dual fire systems gas water
Dual fire systems: Gas & Water
  • National Archives Electronic records

storage vault

    • Gas suppressant releases at 150 F
    • Back up sprinklers release at 285 F
making informed decisions
Making informed decisions
  • Know new approaches
  • Knowledgeable recommendations
  • Additions, renovations, storage facilities
  • Know vulnerable collections
the world in a drop of water
The World in a Drop of Water
  • Courtesy of Tanakawho, Flickr
  • Creative Commons
  • The dedicated staff of the National Archives
  • Working together to accomplish great things
  • Especially the conservation staff who have helped in so many ways