Tips on salvaging fire damaged collections
Given the recent fire at the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton, it is timely to share a few tips and useful websites on salvaging fire damaged objects.
Below I have outlined the basic salvage procedure. For more information please refer to the provided websites or contact your local MDO or a qualified conservator for specific advice.
- Safety first: Do not enter the fire damaged area until you have been given the all clear by the fire brigade and/or the authority responsible for the site.
- Wear nitrile gloves and a P2 respirator mask when retrieving objects. Minimise handling and carefully support objects at all times. Material may have become weak and brittle.
- Once it is safe to access the affected area, sort the collections into three main categories: wet; charred/burnt; and soot affected but not burnt.
- Treat wet material first. Advice on treating water damaged collections can be found at the following websites:
- Objects that have been burnt require extreme care and should be handled as little as possible. Seek assistance from a qualified conservator for guidance on whether treatment is possible:
- For objects affected by soot, it is important to remove soot as quickly as possible. Soot is chemically active and the longer it remains on the surface of an object the greater the risk of permanent damage.
- Refer to the following websites for advice on cleaning methods. Always remove loose surface soot first without rubbing or introducing water to prevent soot becoming embedded or causing staining:
Gentle reminder: Make sure your disaster preparedness plan is up to date and those involved in the disaster team are familiar with its contents and have received recent hands on salvage training.