Notre Dame Cathedral fire shocks China, sounding alarm for cultural heritage protection

2019-04-19 05:26:26 GMT2019-04-19 13:26:26(Beijing Time) Sina English

The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris stood the test of time for 856 years, but it was almost lost after a horrifying blaze ripped through the monument on April 15. The fire is a heartbreak for France, and also a shock for China, a country that has a special affection for this crown jewel of French history.

“The Notre-Dame Cathedral carries special meaning for Chinese people, and Victor Hugo and his novel play a pivotal role in it,” said Tian Lin, a professor from Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture. He added that this impressive building is not only an architectural structure; but more importantly, it carries culture and history that strikes a chord with all of humankind.

The Notre-Dame blaze not only garnered sympathy from Chinese public, but also sent the alarm to prestigious Chinese cultural institutions, including the Palace Museum. On Tuesday, Palace Museum staff held an emergency meeting on fire prevention. “The protection of cultural relics should be our priority,” Wang Xudong, curator of the Palace Museum, said on his social media account.

China has always attached great importance to fire prevention in the Palace Museum, which is known as the most extensive collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

Due to the steadily improved fire prevention and security systems, the palace hasn’t caught fire for 49 years. The museum now has 4,866 extinguishers, 167 fire hydrants, and over 200 water containers, each holding 3,000 liters of water, and uses a Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus (VESDA) system, which is hundreds of times more sensitive than a traditional smoke detector.

The complex has also prepared 55 plans to deal with fire incidents, and drills are staged once or twice a year.

The Notre Dame fire, which may relate to renovation work, sounded the alarm not only for the Palace Museum staff, but also for everyone, that fire prevention and security should never be neglected.

“There are a lot of flammable substances during construction work, such as oil paint. These substances can easily cause a fire in badly ventilated buildings,” said Tian, emphasizing that teams should pay high attention to fire safety in historical buildings.

“The Notre Dame Cathedral accident is heartbreaking for us all. I hope that from this accident, we can have a deeper understanding of our community and pay greater attention to cultural heritage all over the world,” said Tian. 


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