Maritime Museum Emergency and Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Manual


Ship and other maritime‑related fires



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8. Ship and other maritime‑related fires. Waterfront museums located in larger cities are usually protected by city‑operated fire boats and trained firemen familiar with vessel and shoreline fires. Many museums, however, depend on local volunteer fire departments, most of which do not have specific training in vessel fire suppression. Without waterborne apparatus, marina fires are especially difficult to fight due to their inaccessibility from land. For the same reason, structures built at the shoreline or over the water often suffer more damage on the water side than on the shore side. When fires are fought with saltwater, which is the case when fireboats and pumper trucks draw water directly from the local water source, the damage from salt can be even more serious than the fire. Saltwater can corrode electrical wires and equipment, and salt crystals can damage plaster and other surfaces. Special training and cooperation between museum staff and volunteer fire departments may be required to keep such damage to a minimum.
Potential regions of concern: Any museum with floating vessels or with structures built next to or over the water that does not have waterborne fire fighting equipment is at risk.


9. Collision. Museums with static or working watercraft should have procedures for dealing with collisions. A collision can occur at the dock, at an offshore mooring, or at sea with another ship, rock, or even a whale. Collision at sea, where the distance to the nearest source of help may be the greatest, is the most dangerous type of collision. But any collision can be disastrous to an historic vessel. During the 1992 floods of the Mississippi River, the 277‑foot sidewheel steam dredge William Mitchell, built in 1934 and berthed in Kansas City, broke free of her mooring, hit three bridges, sheared off a smokestack, and suffered extensive damage to her second deck. In April 1994 at Corpus Christi, Texas, a runaway barge damaged two of the Columbus ship replicas, punching a hole in Pinta and pushing her into Santa Maria, damaging her mast.
Potential regions of concern: Any museum with working or static floating ships, especially in congested harbors or rivers.


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