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Fire workshop report
- To: bap@lists.Stanford.EDU
- Subject: Fire workshop report
- From: Richard Boyden <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 24 Oct 1996 15:04:43 -0400
- Message-Id: <email@example.com>
- Sender: owner-bap@lists.Stanford.EDU
Report on the Fire Matters Workshop 10/5/96
The Bay Area Preservation Network presented ?Fire Matters!?, a records
fire demonstration and workshop at the San Jose Fire Department
Training Center. The event was co-sponsored by the San Jose Fire
Department and the San Jose Historical Museum. About 20 people
attended, including librarians, conservators, archivists, and records
managers from Apple Computer, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Industrial Indemnity Co. (San
Francisco), Irwin Memorial Boodbank (San Francisco), National Archives
and Records Administration, Palo Alto City Library, University of
California at Santa Cruz, and Yosemite National Park.
The fire demonstration was conducted at the SJFD training tower in a
large ground floor room. A small quantity (about 12 cubic feet) of
disposable city records and excessed library books were arranged on
wooden and metal shelving against one wall. Records included open
files, files in records center-type cartons, index cards, computer
printouts in binders, floppy diskettes, and one computer mag tape in a
plastic storage container. About one foot from this assembly firefighters
constructed a pallet lean-to with cardboard boxes and paper inside.
After showing the group the set-up and explaining what was being
included and how the various materials were configured, we exited and
the pallet structure was set on fire. During the ignition and burning, SJFD
Investigator Jim Acker explained what was happening, for example, how
the materials on top shelves ignited first, how the fire was fed by gases
emitted from materials, etc. After about 20 minutes, the fire was put out.
This was followed by a walkthrough of the burn area and examination of
the results: records boxed so that folders faced out exfoliated onto the
floor, whereas those stored ends facing out did not; materials packed
tightly tended to survive with margins charred but text largely intact;
wooden shelving fared much worse and contributed to the fire?s impact
on the materials (not a surprise!)..
Jim Acker answered numerous questions from the attendees, including
when would staff be allowed into a building after a fire? He answered
that, if there were no indications requiring an arson investigation, the
building could be entered as soon as the FD declared it was safe
(usually a couple of hours after the fire was extinguished). However, if
the scene required an arson ivestigation, the time frame would be
considerably longer unless the point of origin could be determined and
that area roped off to prevent instrusion.
The walkthrough was followed by a sprinkler system demonstration and
lecture by George Bradford. He explained how to check the pressure on
the risers (internal and external pipe pressure), how to shut off the
internal pipes (in case of sprinkler head failure), and the need to have
extra sprinkler heads for replacement so a system is down only a
minimal amount of time. There was also a demonstration of the use of
water extinguishers. Two pallets of cardboard boxes were set on fire
and two of the workshop attendees used the extiguishers to put out the
fire. During lunch we watched a video on the proper use of fire
After lunch, the fire investigator spoke about arson and methods of
prevention. His main focus was on housekeeping (making sure your
building is clean of possible fire hazards) and knowing your personnel
and when they may be disgruntled. We viewed a short infra-red video
of four similar fires that used different excellerants (one of which used
Richard Boyden?s presentation was on facility standards (citing both
NARA and NFPA) and the need for sprinkler systems (the text will be
distributed on the listserv soon).
The last presentation was by Tim Boyd, the coastal region senior
planning specialist for the Governor?s Office of Emergency Services. He
spoke on the California Master Mutual Aid System, its origin and the
assistance it coordinates state wide including city, county, state, federal
and private resources.
I am very exited that we continue to build bridges between the
archives/libraries/records world and the firefighter community. I think
there are many common interests between the two and look forward to
working with them on common projects in the future. Specifically, I
believe they have much to teach us in the realm of mutual assistance.
For this reason, I am happy that the State OES is showing strong interest
in our efforts and is encouraging BAPNet to become a discipline specific
group within the State?s master mutual aid plan. This would involve
adopting state OES-mandated nomenclature and organizational structure.
It would mean that archives, records, and libraries mutual aid networks
would be integrated into an overall planning and response framework,
and that our interests would be represented therein. Most significantly, it
would mean that we could be formally allied with southern California
networks who could respond to calls for mutual aid in the event of a
major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area.
These are major steps requiring much discussion within BAPNet.
Please provide your comments, criticisms, suggestions, etc. The
workshop and mutual assistance issues will be discussed at the Nov. 7
meeting in San Francisco.
Other messages, including George Bradford?s comments on the fire
workshop, and the text of my presentation on facilities standards will
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