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Salvage and Disaster Recovery

Historic England runs a practical 3-day course that shows delegates how an effective response during an emergency incident can mitigate loss and damage to heritage assets. This course provides hands-on experience of removing objects from an incident location, assessing of the condition of those objects, and following appropriate first-aid treatment and documentation procedures. Participants also learn about how to use essential salvage equipment safely.

With contributions from English Heritage, Historic England, The National Trust, West Midlands Fire Service and an independent conservator, the course is suitable for anybody that might be involved in dealing with an emergency incident affecting a heritage asset. The course is run four times a year (usually in February, May, July and October) and equates to 18.5 hours of CPD from the Institute of Fire Engineers.

Who should attend?

This course is intended for anyone working with heritage assets, whether buildings, structures or collections. You may be working as a property manager, curator, volunteer manager or within the fire service, or maybe you are considering a career in one of these areas. We welcome people from different backgrounds as one of the key points of the course is to learn about the need for different parties to communicate effectively and work together in such situations.

Why should you join this course?

Emergency situations pose high risk to heritage assets, but reacting quickly and effectively can mitigate this.


At the end of the course participants will:

  • Understand how to organise resources and the response to incident situations
  • Understand the emergency services’ command and control system, by working directly with the Fire and Rescue Service
  • Gain practical experience leading or working in salvage teams
  • Know how to work safely in emergency situations
  • Understand how to handle damaged artefacts and undertake triage techniques
  • Understand how to train others

Course activities

  • The timetable covers practical work as well as classroom-style learning which broadly covers:
  • Emergency plan overview
  • Health and safety
  • Incident management/team work
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Safe use of ladders
  • Water management exercise
  • Breathing apparatus familiarisation and walk-through
  • Working with Emergency Services
  • Documentation
  • Handling and Packing Objects
  • First-Aid Treatment of collections
  • A practical Salvage exercise
  • Lowering Books + Human Chain remove and replace with Case Studies
  • Fire & Rescue Service Perspective

Meet the course tutors

Fiona Macalister -  FIIC ACR FMA trained as an archaeological conservator at Durham University and worked for 20 years in museums before becoming the Preventive Conservation Adviser (Technical) for the National Trust. As a private conservator, since 2008, she has provided support in emergency preparedness for Historic Scotland, NTS, NT, museums, galleries, libraries, archives and private owners. She is a member of ICOMOS-ICORP an international committee for risk preparedness.

Charlie Harris – National Fire Advisor for Historic England, 38 years with Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service, over 20 years in fire safety as well as responding to all types of incidents as an officer. 5 years in London seconded to Crown Premises Inspection Group, currently chairs SE Heritage Group and a sitting member of IFE (special interest group) Heritage.

Mark Ralston - Mark has 22 years operational experience with West Midlands Fire Service, and is now leading the Business Educational Safety Team based at the West Midlands Fire Service Oldbury Training Facility. Mark has the following qualifications - PTLLS & CTLLS (Teaching level 4 NVQ), NVQ 3 Training Development, Nebosh Qualification, WMFS Fire Safety Foundations, BTEC Fire Risk Management, Colin Todd Risk Assessment, Breathing Apparatus Instructor, Road Traffic Collision Instructor, First Aid Instructor, Health and Safety Instructor, HSE Awareness, Equality and Diversity, Fire Safety Foundation course, LGV and PSV driving qualifications, FIA B.A.F.E Fire Extinguisher Maintenance.

Nick Hunt - BSc MRICS MBIFM. Nick is the Heritage Lead Officer for West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS), actively promoting heritage protection to colleagues across the organisation and externally, regionally and nationally. The emphasis on heritage protection by WMFS dates from Government guidance in 2008, identifying this as an ‘essential part’ of all Fire Service’s strategy. As well as 10 years’ experience focusing on Fire Safety, Nick draws on an early career in the built environment as a Chartered Surveyor and facilities manager of fire service building stock. He has arranged and taken part in a number of national heritage conferences and is a regular contributor to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Conservation and Building Surveying Journals.

Sarah Lambarth – Senior Collections Conservator, Southeast and London & East. Sarah took up the post of Senior Collections Conservator at English Heritage in the beginning of 2016 after spending several years working on large scale projects including the HLF-funded Swiss Cottage Quarter project at Osborne House, the replacement of the heating system at Eltham Palace as well as the re-display of the Palace in 2015. Prior to this she spent a number of years working as a Collections Conservator across English Heritage sites, predominately in London and the South East, including advising on emergency preparedness and training site teams. She joined the Collections Conservation Team at English Heritage in 2006 as an Icon/HLF Intern.

Christine Murray – ACR - Preventive Conservation Adviser, Skills & Projects has worked for the National Trust for 18 years.  She currently advises nationally on emergency salvage planning and training for the National Trust’s historic houses and was closely involved at Clandon Park following the devastating fire in 2015.  Her role also includes planning, protection and storage of historic collections and interiors during building projects and training and skills development for house staff.  Christine worked as a conservator in museums and for area services for ten years after training as an archaeological conservator at Durham University.

Course venue

Handsworth Community Fire Station,
41 Rookery Road,
B21 9QU

Course fee

The cost is £505 per delegate, and includes 3 days of expert teaching, buffet lunches, 1 evening meal and 2 nights B&B accommodation at a local hotel.

How to book

For any questions or booking, please email:


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