Fire Training Project

London’s response to fire is concentrated on its destructive capabilities. The density of the city makes fire an interesting lens to asses the connection of a person to building, building to object and object to person. The immediate impact fire has on our relationship to objects and architecture is unique, causing an instant assessment of the importance of our surroundings. I am interested in the decision making related to the tools, people and institutions that have been set up in response to fire.

Artwork tends to be precious, valuable and protected, whereas fire can be indiscriminate and all consuming. As an example, a fire at the fine art storage facility I work at destroyed a vast amount of British contemporary art. Although devastating, it was a fantastic leveller of material which had been injected with so much cultural importance. The fire disregarded the art as anything other than fuel. The reactions to the lost art work ranged from using words like ‘bereavement’ to contextualising the destruction as, ‘just art, it’s not like anyone died’. For me, instead of looking at fire as being purely destructive of man made things, it was useful to think of this as urban ecology, possibly encouraging new growth. I am intrigued about the balance between restoring and maintaining natural processes associated with fire, and protecting human life and property.