Risk Management > Fire Prevention and Control


"Fire obviously poses a threat to all museum collections, although organic artifacts are particularly vulnerable. In addition, smoke from fires poses a particular threat, especially to porous specimens. Although fires are infrequent, they result in massive loss and extensive damage."

Costain, Charlie. Framework for Preservation of Museum Collections, Canadian Conservation Institute, Canadian Heritage, 1994.


"A structural fire plan treating prevention, detection, and suppression, including special procedures for fighting fire in historic structures and structures housing museum property, is required for each park… Pre-suppression planning should be a cooperative effort involving all agencies that would be involved in fire suppression. Because the best-managed fire is the one that didn't happen, fire plans should stress fire prevention. Fire prevention planning should consider lightning protection systems. Fire detection and suppression systems are key ingredients in long-term planning for protecting cultural resources from fire. Fire-fighting procedures acceptable for most structures may need to be modified to ensure maximum protection of cultural resources. Staff charged with developing fire prevention and fire-fighting plans and cultural resource specialists should consult closely when plans for historic structures or those housing cultural resources are developed. They should consider the variety of sources historically causing fires in the types of structures for which the plans are being written and develop specific procedures and training for fighting them. Those in and outside the Service who will be called upon to fight fires should be made intimately familiar with the structures and their contents and be given frequent refresher orientations. Cooperative agreements with outside organizations should recognize the special conditions and requirements for fighting fires when cultural resources are involved."

Chapter 4: Stewardship, D. Fire Management, 1. Structural Fire, NPS-28: Cultural Resource Management Guideline, National Park Service


Baril, Paul. A Fire Protection Primer, Canadian Conservation Institute, Canadian Heritage, 1995.

Berndt, J.F. and J.K. Richardson. A Conceptual Approach to the Control of Fire Hazards, CBD-226, Canadian Building Digest, National Research Council Canada, 1982.

Guide to Assessing the Requirements for Fire Detection and Alarm Systems for Museums, Archives and Libraries

Space Heater Safety (download PDF format file), Curatorial Safety Measures, Museum Management Program, National Park Service.

   © 2002-03 Philip C. Marshall and Preservation Society of Newport County