COST research action on fire loss to historic buildings

April 25, 2002

Brussels, 24 April 2002

Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation of a concerted European research action designated as COST Action C17 "Built Heritage: Fire Loss to Historic Buildings." European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research - COST Secretariat. Brussels, 22 April 2002 (document COST 236/02). Full text

Delegations will find attached hereto the text of the abovementioned Memorandum, signed in Brussels on 18 April 2002 by Austria, Denmark, Finland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation of a European Concerted Research Action designated as COST Action C17 "Built Heritage: Fire Loss to Historic Buildings"

The Signatories to this Memorandum of Understanding, declaring their common intention to participate in the concerted Action referred to above and described in the Technical Annex to the Memorandum, have reached the following understanding:

1. The Action will be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the document COST 400/01 "Rules and Procedures for Implementing COST Actions", the contents of which are fully known to the Signatories.

2. The main objective of the Action is the definition at European level of the degree of loss to the Built Heritage to the effects of fire and for the proposal of remedial actions and recommendations to combat such loss, using minimal invasive techniques.

3. The economic dimension of the activities carried out under the Action has been estimated, on the basis of information available during the planning of the Action, at Euro 10 million in 2001 prices.

4. The Memorandum of Understanding will take effect on being signed by at least five Signatories.

5. The Memorandum of Understanding will remain in force for a period of four years, calculated from the date of the first meeting of the Management Committee, unless the duration of the Action is modified according to the provisions of Chapter 6 of the document referred to in Point 1 above.


The intention of the Action is to address the physical and significant cultural loss of Europe's built heritage to the damaging effects of fire. It will be achieved in a multi-disciplinary, multi-national manner through the collaboration and integration of a variety of related projects. It will also build upon current research initiatives and recently published material resulting from a number of relevant international conferences. The outcomes will be the promotion of data, methodologies, and management systems. This will assist a wide range of end-users balance fire engineering needs with conservation requirements in the future preservation of the European patrimony.

1. Why a COST Action on this Topic

In addition to associated levels of life loss, the number, authenticity and quality of European historic buildings is being steadily eroded through the effects of fire. In 1983 this was recognised by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, who recommended `That the governments of the member states adopt all legislative, administrative, financial, educational and other appropriate measures' to protect the built heritage from fire and other natural disasters. Therefore there is a need to find a balance between technological and management solutions to counter the disastrous effects of fire.

The real scale of loss of historic buildings to fire is unknown but superficial data suggests that the annual and aggregated effect is considerable, perhaps as high as one important historic building each day.

There is a general lack of statistical information, and a common lack of understanding and appreciation of what measures are available and required, to counter the effects of fire. Good guidance is urgently called for on how to sensitively retrofit modern day equipment into historic fabric. There is also a need to develop related management expertise in the dealing with this problem in historic premises...

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