Tema Sistemi S.p.A. invests in a research project for fire protection of artistic and cultural environments.
The protection of cultural heritage assumes great importance especially in a country like Italy, which is particularly rich from this point of view. Article 9 of the constitution of the Italian Republic says: “… The Republic promotes the development of culture and scientific research. It protects the landscape and the historical and artistic heritage of the nation …”, codifying at the highest level the legal protection of the Italian Cultural Heritage.
Cultural Heritage represents the wealth of a country and of a city, in other words, Cultural Heritage is a set of material and immaterial goods, whose material expression (museums, works of art, houses, landscapes) also serves to recall the intangible part constituted by culture, language, common ways of thinking.
Italy is a country characterized by the presence of many natural hazards with an heterogeneity unique in the world.
Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and hydrogeological instability occur recurrently throughout much part of the country. The situation is aggravated by the anthropization of the territory and deficiencies in prevention and mitigation that make disastrous even the effects of phenomena with a modest magnitude.
In addition to natural hazards, there are also anthropogenic risks, one of the most frequent these ones is fire risk. Together they contribute to jeopardizing the preservation of a unique cultural and environmental heritage.
Italy is a real mine, with a myriad of hidden jewels. The paintings and frescoes are works that have survived the passage of time, adapting, just like living beings, to the particular local microclimate, temperature and relative humidity and also to its periodic variations.
The conservation of these assets, experts say, requires that the temperature of the works and the relative humidity of the air remain roughly constant. If, in fact, the canvases of the paintings are subjected to sudden variations of these values, they respond immediately by deforming (in a fast way on the surface and slowly in depth) with consequent detachment of the pictorial layer from the background.
When the problem of how to secure a museum or historic building has to be faced, it is necessary to carry out a much more complex risk assessment than that usually developed for ordinary workplaces. In fact, in addition to protecting human life, the evaluator is confronted with the need to protect property from fire, earthquakes and possible hydrogeological damage.
Even in the presence of works of art, historical buildings or in any case goods belonging to the cultural heritage, the objective of the safety of human life is primary, but it must be accompanied by a study of the evolution of fire, other risks and, at the same time, the analysis of the effects of extinguishing systems in order to verify that the goods to be protected are effectively protected.
In the light of the vulnerability of these assets with regard to temperature variations (remember the recent Notre Dame fire in Paris, La Fenice in Venice, Il Petruzzelli in Bari) It is necessary to pay particular attention to the risks and in particular to fire.
That said, it is common opinion that not even the most advanced regulations can secure an extensive heritage consisting of 4980 museums or similar open to the public (ISTAT data 2018) of which 282 archaeological sites, 537 monumental complexes. In addition there are 110000 real estate assets of cultural value, not used, classified in the Cultural Heritage Risk Charter 2012 by MIBACT. In addition to this we have 37,000 places under environmental and cultural protection, private (FAI data, Italian Environment Fund 2020).
As is known, confirmed by the data presented, Italy has the greatest cultural heritage in the world.
Heritage of a very different nature and only used in a minimum part as we can read from the numbers. The remaining part is often in a state of abandonment, precisely because of the huge investments needed to make them usable for purposes other than those for which they were built in past centuries.
The regeneration of these buildings could be one of the driving forces for the development of Italy by helping, with a public-private synergy, on the one hand the investments, and on the other hand their reuse in order to produce economic-social-historical added value and unique beauty.
Therefore, after a brief analysis of the data of the Italian historical and cultural heritage, it is confirmed that working in the field of fire prevention design, despite all the regulatory “facilities” described, remains a big challenge. This also applies to those who have to install modern and effective fire protection systems.
Research, technological innovation and the transfer of knowledge to the world of specialized industry and professionals is essential. This evolution, however, must be accompanied by the increasingly widespread use of performance fire prevention design, the only one capable of fully protecting the safety of protected assets for both public and private heritage, both from an economic and cultural point of view.
For this reason, Temasistemi spa fire tecnology thought it would be useful to promote a project that would bring together the various Italian excellences that deal with the security of cultural heritage, in order to fully meet the need for help from MIBACT and the individual Italian museum and archival superintendencies.
Therefore, in February 2020, a collaboration was started with the University of Ferrara, the National Fire Brigade and the Ferrara Exhibition Centre, specialized in the world of cultural heritage and risks.
The work has led to the signing of an agreement and a bilateral memorandum of understanding, between Temasistemi SPA and the University of Ferrara, to develop the study, research and technology transfer to the industrial system of new methodologies, equipment, innovative materials and new patents, so that in the coming years we can work in this area of fire prevention in a more comprehensive way, with less approximations and, above all, without damaging the protected historical buildings and their content which is often of inestimable value.
Another important innovation included in the agreements is the study of methods of prevention and protection from fire risk in an interdisciplinary way, involving very different disciplines such as restoration, historical-artistic analysis, fire engineering, plant design, the study of chemistry and physics of extinguishing products and processes, the analysis of the physical effects of substances on humans, the design of emergency management methods, the verification of the compatibility of technical solutions with the national regulatory framework and the international evolution of verification and control systems, the design of terminals and systems adaptable to different contexts, making maximum use of system integration.
This work will allow, the preparation of fire prevention projects, inside monumental buildings, museums and museum poles, historical and confined archives, sometimes used even beyond their traditional use (public performances, meetings, cultural events, etc.) tailored to measure.
It is essential to analyze the non-compliant solutions, clearly to be validated according to the principles today well expressed by the Fire Prevention Rules, adopting advanced simulations and testing on prototypes, then involving subjects who, for competence and authority, are able to be super partes and suggest changes that can help technicians and clients to adopt effective projects.
Research and development, must also take into account the needs of industrial production as well as the wider needs for dissemination of knowledge and good practices, including through a relapse in training and information of the know-how acquired towards potential users of techniques and technologies, designers, students, etc..
Tema Sistemi SpA intends to contribute and stimulate the study of fire protection systems for the protection of valuable environments that use natural extinguishing substances, both in liquid and gaseous state.
The aim is to guarantee the integrity of works of art and any property under protection, through the use of extinguishing agents present in nature and therefore 100% compatible with the environment and which, of course, are not harmful to human health.
At present, Tema Sistemi SpA’s product range already includes this type of “green” systems studied and tested in the company’s laboratories, but the company intends to carry out further studies aimed at improving them and any new applicable technologies, in order to guarantee the harmlessness of their interaction with the works of art and at the same time the maximum effectiveness in extinguishing the fire.
In order to implement and coordinate this important activity, which foresees an initial investment of about € 1.5 million, an Innovative Startup will be set up for research, development and industrial transfer of technologies for the integrated protection and safety of cultural heritage from fires. The centre will be called FIRTECH (Fire Industrial Research Technology European Cultural Heritage) and will operate in four centres, Ferrara, Ravenna, Rome and Taranto. This is a unique system in Europe.
The risk of fire represents one of the greatest dangers both for the buildings and for the goods contained in them, as well as for the protection of the operators who intervene on the historical heritage and for the protection of the place where the building is located, the environment and natural resources.
The objective to be achieved is to protect these environments.
For more information, go to www.temasistemi.eu