Emergency Care

Wildfire

Initial Recovery of

Fire Damaged Collections

 

By April Hann Lanford

Wildfire, Initial Recovery of Fire Damaged Collections

By April Hann Lanford

Time is of the essence when fine art, artifact and furniture collections are exposed to soot and smoke.  The longer soot rests on the surface, the more difficult it can become to successfully clean.

The following are a few proactive steps to start safeguarding and recovering a compromised collection:

  • Safety first-Check with local authorities to confirm that it is safe to return. Your personal safety is the most important. In addition to structural instability of buildings and homes, there is also the risk of flash floods and mudslides that might follow.
  • Proper PPE-Before entering, make sure you are wearing the proper safety equipment for the environment. Heavy soled shoes, gloves and a mask are an absolute must.
  • It may seem counter-intuitive but take your time-Remember that you are working in a compromised environment. There may be limited lighting, the structure will likely be compromised, there will be broken glass and debris to navigate on the floor. The items you are handling might also be compromised and require even greater attention when moving.
  • Image-Upper RightAn example of working in a compromised environment, antique ceiling tiles are delaminating and falling from the ceiling.  These are a risk to personal safety, but these are also are at risk of further damage, and potential loss, if recovery crews are not aware of their importance in this historic home.

Image-Lower RightLimited lighting, unstable walls, broken glass and construction debris can all pose a safety risk and complicate recovery efforts.

The following are a few proactive steps to start safeguarding and recovering a compromised collection:

  • Safety first-Check with local authorities to confirm that it is safe to return. Your personal safety is the most important. In addition to structural instability of buildings and homes, there is also the risk of flash floods and mudslides that might follow.
  • Proper PPE-Before entering, make sure you are wearing the proper safety equipment for the environment. Heavy soled shoes, gloves and a mask are an absolute must.
  • It may seem counter-intuitive but take your time-Remember that you are working in a compromised environment. There may be limited lighting, the structure will likely be compromised, there will be broken glass and debris to navigate on the floor. The items you are handling might also be compromised and require even greater attention when moving.
Water damage art restoration Fire damage art restoration Smoke damage art restoration Water damage furniture repair Fire damage furniture repair Smoke damage furniture repair Water damage furniture restoration Fire damage furniture restoration Smoke damage antique restoration Water damage antique repair Fire damage antique repair Smoke damage antique repair Water damage antique restoration Fire damage antique restoration Smoke damage antique restoration Chubb specialty contents Chubb claims  provenance preservation  disaster preparedness art rescue art disaster response  chicago conservation chicago conservatory the center of conservation the center art claims art collection recovery the art conservatory Art rescue Emergency response Art recovery Contents experts Specialty contents Chubb claims provider Chubb framing expert Chubb art claims expert Servpro art claims Art contents Art restoration Water damage art repair Fire damage art repair Smoke damage art repair mold remediation mold restoration  art restoration water 1/9  debris flow, montecito california, santa barbara antique restoration, hurricane laura art restoration, antique restoration, hurricane Marco antique restoration services. hurricane art restoration, red salmon complex fire, apple fire riverside, lake fire, los angeles restoration, loyalton fire art cleaning river fire, monterey ca dome fire, san bernandino CA Chubb art claims onsite specialty contents cleaning SCU lightening complex soot cleaning August complex, mendocino art restoration LNU lightning complex antique restoration LNU lightning complex art restoration services North complex fire art cleaning, CZU lightning complex, san mateo firebutte, tehama, glenn art cleaning
Wildfire debris recovery photo taken by April Hann Lanford Artifact art restoration services Artmill Group
Water damage art restoration Fire damage art restoration Smoke damage art restoration Water damage furniture repair Fire damage furniture repair Smoke damage furniture repair Water damage furniture restoration Fire damage furniture restoration Smoke damage antique restoration Water damage antique repair Fire damage antique repair Smoke damage antique repair Water damage antique restoration Fire damage antique restoration Smoke damage antique restoration Chubb specialty contents Chubb claims  provenance preservation  disaster preparedness art rescue art disaster response  chicago conservation chicago conservatory the center of conservation the center art claims art collection recovery the art conservatory Art rescue Emergency response Art recovery Contents experts Specialty contents Chubb claims provider Chubb framing expert Chubb art claims expert Servpro art claims Art contents Art restoration Water damage art repair Fire damage art repair Smoke damage art repair mold remediation mold restoration  art restoration water 1/9  debris flow, montecito california, santa barbara antique restoration, hurricane laura art restoration, antique restoration, hurricane Marco antique restoration services. hurricane art restoration, red salmon complex fire, apple fire riverside, lake fire, los angeles restoration, loyalton fire art cleaning river fire, monterey ca dome fire, san bernandino CA Chubb art claims onsite specialty contents cleaning SCU lightening complex soot cleaning August complex, mendocino art restoration LNU lightning complex antique restoration LNU lightning complex art restoration services North complex fire art cleaning, CZU lightning complex, san mateo firebutte, tehama, glenn art cleaning

Be mindful of mold-Even though you are dealing with fire damage, the items were likely exposed to water, whether from water used to put out the fire, or fluctuations in humidty that lead to condensation. If the collection has sat in an uncontrolled enviromnent, there may also be active mold.

Image-Left-Condensation dripped down the face of the glass on this frame, seeping into the mat inside.  The 22k gilded frame was damaged from the moisture as well exposure to soot.  The artwork was able to be successfully treated with minimal intervention and the frame restored. 

Upon arrival, document the space and collection with photos and video This will help in a variety of ways, to track items, to identify the scope of damage as well as establish a timeline in the recovery process.

Create an inventory and identify priority items for care-Timing is critical during the aftermath.  It is important to focus on the most important items first before proceeding with the rest of the collection.

 

Always wear gloves when handling items exposed to soot.  The oil on your fingers can cross link with the soot and further embed the soot into the surface of the piece.

Minimize handling of the items as much as possible.  Soot is acidic and abrasive.  The exposure to heat can also cause further instability to a surface.  The more a piece is handled, the greater the risk of further damage.

Contact a conservator– A conservator can help with the recovery, prioritization, triage and relocation of the affected items after a fire. The sooner the items can be addressed, the better the results for treatment. The longer soot is on a surface the harder it can be to successfully remove.

Always remember-It is important to never assume that a piece cannot be successfully treated.  Often a piece, even with catastrophic damage, can be successfully treated. You should always check with a conservator for options.  The documentation completed early on in the process is a great way to start the conversation about options and costs for potential treatment. 

 

There are many variables to consider when safeguarding collections and recovering items after a fire loss. While a lot of collectors do not have access to offsite storage to safely evacuate their items when a wildfire looms, these preventive steps can go a long way.  These days, even a sixty-second video walk through of a collection can significantly help with recovery efforts in the future.

During the aftermath when local resources for response and recovery are inundated, taking the proactive measures listed above can significantly impact the successful recovery of your collection.

The most important lesson to remember is to never assume that a piece is a loss. The field of conservation offers a combination of traditional techniques and modern technology which can yield a lot of successful options for treatment of a piece.  The sooner an item can be addressed, the better the results. 

If you have questions, or want to learn more about services, please contact us at:

312-344-0331

April@artifactservices.com

Our collection of educational articles about

custom framing, collection care, and emergency response are updated regularly.

Click on each topic below for a menu of corresponding articles.

light dusting of antique gilded frame. Gilded frame. antique frame conservation. Frame repair. Picture frame repair. Frame restoration. Antique custom frames Gold frame repair Antique restoration antique conservation services chicago

Collection Care Articles

By April Hann Lanford

Our collection of educational articles provide an introduction to many topics about the preservation and conservation of fine art, antiques, and fine furniture.

Topics are often written as a result of questions provided by our clients. 

Framing-Article

Framing Articles

By April Hann Lanford

There is a lot that goes into the design and fabrication of an archival custom frame. Whether a minimal TIG welded aluminum frame, acrylic vitrine, or a custom carved wood, 22k gilded antique revival frame, each design can have a variety of approaches and materials.

EmergencyCare-Articles

Emergency Care Articles

By April Hann Lanford

Our emergency care articles are a helpful introduction to how to prevent damage through preventative measures or art and antique collections.  When a disaster strikes, prompt response and taking the right steps can mitigate further damage.  

Antique-trader-article

Antique Trader Articles

By April Hann Lanford

Visit our collection of articles that have been published in Antique Trader

www.antiquetrader.com

For more than 60 years Antique Trader has been inspiring, informing, and entertaining the collecting community with timely…

Emergency Care

24/7 Hotline(312) 344-0331

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Conveniently receive

collection care tips and project stories

directly to your inbox

We are available to assist you

Contact us today for an appointment

Get in Touch

info@artifactservices.com

(312) 344-0331

Main Location

840 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL 60642

Mon-Fri:  9am - 5:30pm
Sat:  10am-4pm
Sun:  Closed

Complimentary parking is available in the loading zone in front of the building

We can also serve you by appointment at our other locations in the Chicagoland area.

Additional Locations

Highland Park  •  Lake Forest  •  Lincoln Park  •  Arlington Heights

Copyright 2021, Artifact Services, LLC | An ArtMill Group Company