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Subject: Fire retardant on historic textiles

Fire retardant on historic textiles

From: Rick Kerschner <rkerschner>
Date: Friday, October 5, 2007
There has recently been some discussion on the DistList about fire
safety as it relates to historic scenery.  Since its inception in
2002, the Vermont Painted Theater Curtain Project has included
common sense fire safety suggestions for curtain owners along with
its treatment reports, and we are pleased that the national fire
safety board has now incorporated our suggestions into the following
amendment to their Life Safety Standards:

    11-2-4:  Fire-retardant treatment of historically significant
    fabric shall not be required where such treatment will cause
    damage to the fabric.  This provision shall apply only on an
    object-by-object basis and where alternative protection measures
    are approved.

    Appendix 11-2-4

    Where historically significant artifacts such as painted stage
    drops, tapestries and antique flags are displayed in public
    gathering places there is a need to balance fire and life safety
    requirements with the preservation needs of the artifacts.  Life
    Safety Standards including NFPA #101 Life Safety Code mandate
    fire retardant treatments for fabrics that are used in gathering
    places, with NFPA 701 Standard Method of Fire Tests for Flame
    Resistant Textiles and Films referenced as a test protocol. NFPA
    701 requires a destructive burn test of a fabric sample to
    verify compliance with the standard however this action will
    cause permanent damage to the material and is not recommended by
    accepted preservation practice.  Additionally, specific chemical
    treatments that may be applied to reduce combustibility may also
    result in irreversible harm fabrics.   None-the-less there is a
    need to protect artifacts and the locations in which they are
    housed from fire, and safeguards must be implemented for
    situations where artifacts are displayed in assembly spaces.
    These should include but not be limited to: prohibiting open
    flames (i.e. candles, lamps, and smoking), avoiding the use of
    heat producing appliances such as food and beverage preparation
    equipment within the room, or adding a fire watch where the
    artifact is located. The use of cool burning lamps such as a
    fluorescent or LED within the space is recommended with no
    lights, electrical devices or cables located within 1 meters (3
    feet) distance of the artifact.  The placement of a combustible
    artifact within an assembly space should be approved by the
    authority having jurisdiction.  The AHJ should consult with
    disciplines that have expertise in preservation and protection
    of artifacts

Richard L. Kerschner
Director of Preservation and Conservation
Shelburne Museum
PO Box 10, Route 7
Shelburne, VT   05482
802-985-3348 x3361


                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:25
                 Distributed: Saturday, October 6, 2007
                       Message Id: cdl-21-25-013
                                  ***
Received on Friday, 5 October, 2007

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