Saving Damaged Family Treasures after a Fire

Conservation experts say prompt, gentle attention is best

Cherished family heirlooms that survive a fire are often covered with soot and ash, requiring prompt and gentle attention to avoid further damage. The Heritage Emergency National Task Force, a coalition of 42 national organizations and federal agencies co-sponsored by FEMA and Heritage Preservation, offers these basic guidelines from professional conservators for those who are searching for, and finding, family treasures in the ruins:

After a Fire

General Handling Advice

Contact a Conservator
Recovering items damaged by a fire is challenging. If a precious item is badly damaged, a conservator may be able to help. To locate a conservator, click on the “Find a Conservator” box on the home page of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), Also, you could contact the conservation/preservation department of a major museum, library, or archives for advice or contact the American Institute for Conservation Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT; see below).

Some Simple Cleaning Tips

Some Important Considerations

Source: Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material, which responded to the devastating 2009 bushfires in Victoria in 2009.

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