The ABCs of Modern Fire Suppression

22nd Preservation Conference

About the Conference

The conference program will provide an in-depth review of fire suppression systems appropriate for the protection of archives and other cultural property. There will be an examination of what had been utilized in the past and what modern systems are being used effectively. The program will also feature insights as to what fire suppression technologies might be utilized in the future and how cultural institutions might adapt in an environment of shrinking budgets but increasing volumes of holdings needing to be safeguarded.

The program will specifically acknowledge recent advances in specific fire suppression systems that are applicable to confined spaces (records vaults, high bay storage), vulnerable materials (artifacts), and electronic equipment (data repositories). It will also address the impact these suppression systems have on the natural environment within the context of the Kyoto Protocol and other policies adopted in response to the threat of global warming.

We expect to have an audience of archivists, librarians, conservators, preservation specialists, facility managers, architects and engineers, and curators of museums and historic properties. The program will enable attendees to be exposed to new information about modern, emerging technologies to protect their collections against fire loss or damage. Our intent is for attendees to leave the conference with an understanding of what the appropriate choices are for their institution and why the layout of building spaces, the configuration of shelving and storage units, and the nature of the materials to be protected all must be taken into account when designing and procuring a fire suppression system.

The conference will occur as a one-day event. It would be dedicated to formal presentations delivered by experts in the field and case studies by representatives from a variety of institutions using modern fire suppression methods and technologies.


We anticipate the formal presentations to include:

  • Overview - The basics of fire suppression technologies and what systems are best suited for different circumstances.
  • Fire testing and model studies.
  • Engineering decisions for institutions with cultural property holdings: Retrofitting into existing building versus choosing new systems for renovations.
  • Conservation concerns that affect what fire suppression systems to use - identify the specific needs of special media and electronic records.
  • Case studies of selecting, designing and implementing fire suppression systems from a wide variety of institutions.