The evening of Thursday 17 May saw four fire engines and 17 firemen arrive at Polesden Lacey. Fortunately there was no emergency; they were joining staff from Polesden Lacey and Hatchlands and a few other properties in the region for a salvage training exercise.
Salvage is what we do in the event of an emergency, usually fire or flood. After the building has been deemed safe to enter by the emergency services, we begin the process of removing as many collection items as possible to a safe place. With over 5000 items in the collection at Polesden we thought it might be a good idea to practice our emergency salvage procedures – here’s how we got on…
At 6pm we gathered in the courtyard to be briefed and the fire alarm, a World War II air raid siren on the roof of the mansion, sounded. We were given roles and sprang into action!
The fire brigade arrived and were directed to the front of the mansion where they were met by the National Trust Person in Charge, our General Manager Andrea Selley, and Salvage Team Co-ordiantor Chelsea Eves, who directed them towards the house.
Working with the fire service the salvage team began the task of removing items from the show rooms…
Once items are removed from the building they need to go somewhere safe to be checked off against the inventory, and for emergncy conservation work to begin if they are wet or damaged. Recovery Team Co-ordinator Sophie West and her team set up a make-shift wind tunnel using chairs, plastic sheeting and an office fan to start drying out wet books and textiles…
…while I, acting as Inventory Officer, checked off the items that were being brought out of the property against the inventory list.
…and so did the fire crew!