Fire prevention in Chinese heritage buildings faces a large challenge that such buildings are mainly composed of wood or brick-wood structures, while the utilization of such buildings is increasing for tourism. In recent years, there have been many fire accidents reported concerning the heritage buildings of China, such as the fire disasters in the old town of Lijiang, Yunnan (2013), in the old town of Dukezong, Yunnan (2014), at the Chang'an city site in Shaanxi (2016), at the Jokhang Temple in Tibet (2018), in the ancient city of Pingyao, Shanxi (2019), and in Wengding Laozhai, Yunnan (2021) (Figure 1). Recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China launched a project Mechanism of Fire Spreading in Heritage Building and Key Technologies for Evaluation and Early Warning, with total funding of 20.46 million RMB. The project covers many research subjects, which include (1) ignition, burning, and spread of fire in wood structures of the heritage building, (2) fire risk assessment methods and fire control systems of heritage buildings, (3) electrical fire monitoring technology and anti-interference early warning technology of heritage buildings, (4) early detection for interference with environmental fires in heritage buildings, and (5) technology application demonstrations in two world cultural heritage sites (Figure 2).
Figure 1. (a) the fire in Dukezong ancient city fire Yunnan. (b) the fire in Wengding Laozhai fire Yunnan.
Figure 2. Project research content and supporting relationship
The project is led by the State Key Laboratory of Fire Science (SKLFS), University of Science and Technology of China, and the project leader is Professor Jie Ji. The partners include the Shenyang Fire Science and Technology Research Institute of MEM, the China Academy of Building Research, the China Cultural Heritage Information and Consultation Center, the Palace Museum, and Nanjing University of Science & Technology. The project is expected to develop fundamental theories, methods, models, and technologies for the fire prevention and control of Chinese heritage buildings, and the technologies are expected to be applied at the Potala Palace in Tibet and the ancient village of Hongcun in Anhui.
Signed: Prof. Naian Liu, Director of State Key Laboratory of Fire Science, University of Science and Technology of China