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NFPA 1:  Working together to protect properties such as museums, libraries and places of worship, #FireCodefridays

Blog Post created by kristinbigda Employee on Apr 19, 2019

new york public library

 

Since the historic fire at Notre Dame this past Monday, I have found myself fascinated with the flood of analyses and photos and information about the fire, the building design and construction, its history and a global desire to rebuild.   I am confident that for the weeks and months to come we will continue to see and hear information as plans solidify and a community joins together to plan and prepare for moving forward with redeveloping and reimagining this global icon. 

 

A few days ago, a local Boston news website wrote an article about a local monument, Cathedral of the Holy Cross, and its recently completed fire protection upgrades.  The last sentence of the article resonated with me the most.  Chris Gedrich, an executive at Boston-based Suffolk Construction stated “We rely heavily on teamwork and partnerships . . . and a lot of pre-analysis of hazardous areas before we start to work.”  Designing, building, protecting and maintaining has to be a team event.  Those partnerships and shared conversations that are held up front set the stage for success among all those involved in such a unique large scale project that carries such a variety of goals and objectives held my numerous stakeholders.  When the Notre Dame community is ready to move forward following the fire, this quote will have to hold true to ensure a safe and resilient structure.  

 

You read in Robert Solomon’s post about the challenges of protecting historic buildings from fire and the codes that NFPA produces that address these challenges.  Both NFPA 909 and NFPA 914 are referenced in NFPA 1.  Inspectors and AHJs are provided the direction to comply with NFPA 914 when faced with historic buildings in their jurisdiction.  For buildings that display cultural resources, including museum or library collections, or spaces within other buildings used for such culturally significant purposes, inspectors have available to them NFPA 909.

 

What is so unique about NFPA 909 that also relates to the quote noted above from Mr. Gedrich is its emphasis on the planning process when preparing a protection plan for a cultural resource property. The governing body of these properties is responsible for developing and adopting a protection plan for the property.  In addition, a planning team must be identified in order to oversee the development of the protection plan.  The planning team collects all relevant information, standards and regulations to begin the development of a protection plan.  Chapter 5 of NFPA 909 provides the governing body of a cultural resource property with the framework to develop the protection plan.

 

Throughout NFPA 909, for the variety of culturally significant properties, is the common theme of teamwork, either during day to day protection of the property and even during construction and renovation projects.  Identified and agreed upon roles, responsibilities and documentation are a minimum to ensuring the adequate protection of such valuable and treasured property.

 

Whatever transpires with the future of Notre Dame or other communities around the world that may be reassessing the safety, security and resiliency of their own cultural and historical structures, one thing is for sure, it will involve teamwork, contributions and buy-in from all stakeholders involved in the process.  It will be an effort and undertaking with a global impact and with modern fire safety and technology in the spotlight.  I, for one, will be following along with the rebuilding of this icon every step of the way.  Will you?

 

Do you have any historical or cultural buildings in your jurisdiction?  What challenges do you face?  Comment below and join the discussion!

 

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