THE TREASURY BUILDING FIRE OF 1996: PROTECTING CULTURAL RESOURCES IN A NONMUSEUM ENVIRONMENT
Paula A. Mohr
5 5. CONCLUSIONS
In summary, the factors that enabled the curatorial staff to successfully respond to this disaster were largely dependent upon the availability of trained individuals who assisted in the assessment of damage and developing strategies. Curators responsible for collections and historic buildings should identify conservators, architects, and other specialists and give these professionals the opportunity to learn about the cultural resources at the site prior to a disaster. These are the experts who are critical in supplying technical advice and trained personnel in the event of an emergency. Thinking through possible emergency scenarios and documenting response procedures in a written document is also critical in bringing your curatorial staff together as an effective response team.
While it is important to have an emergency plan for cultural resources, it is equally important to understand how that plan fits into the overall emergency plan for the larger organization. The curatorial staff and the specialists who assisted after the fire shared the common goal of protecting the collection and the building, but the most significant challenge was responding to events set in motion by others who were concerned with security and life safety and with making the building operational.