You are here

Fire safety: lessons from Parc Montale

Saturday, 14 April, 2012
Steve Burrow
Matthew Davies
Number of Participants / Visitors / Audience: 

Fire damage is a key risk factor for archaeological open-air museums, and it is an issue taken very seriously at Parc Montale in Italy.

In the past they have had issues with fire damage - a particular problem for them as their buildings are very close to modern dwellings. The Montale solution is extremely comprehensive. Heat detectors are placed within the building and are used out-of-hours, thereby providing an alert should a dampened fire flare up. Motion detectors are placed around the buildings so that any movement towards the structures out-of-hours can be identified and reacted to. Lastly, the houses are protected by an automated sprinkler system, of the type used in petrol stations. This means that should a fire be detected, it can be extinguished quickly.

These methods provide a truly "belt and braces" approach to fire safety and were considered in detail at St Fagans. However, the St Fagans situation is slightly different as our new roundhouses are not close to modern buildings. This means that, while a fire would be disastrous, it would not endanger life, once the building had been evacuated.

The solution chosen at St Fagans was to install CCTV to the site, so that any movement outside of hours could be monitored. Lock the doors so that no one could access the house without permission. Provide a water supply with sufficient pressure up to the buildings. Maintain a clear access route for emergency vehicles.