Fire Suppression for Museums

Fire is one of the greatest threats to museums and other cultural properties.  Safeguarding these institutions and their collections requires fire suppression systems in addition to effective fire prevention measures.  This presentation will provide an overview of the various types of fire suppression systems appropriate for cultural properties, including wet, dry and pre-action sprinkler systems, as well as water mist, total flooding clean agent, and hypoxic air systems.  We will look at their benefits and drawbacks, as well as the practical application for small and mid-sized institutions of these systems in the museum environment.


Michael Kilby is the Associate Director for Fire Protection at the Smithsonian Institution, overseeing the fire protection and life safety programs for 19 museums and research centers. Prior to his current position, Mr. Kilby served as a fire protection engineer for the Smithsonian for twenty-two years. While at the Smithsonian, he has dedicated his efforts to conducting risk assessments, reviewing designs, and providing project oversight to protect the Institution’s facilities – over 16 million square feet located throughout the Western Hemisphere. Working in this environment has provided him in-depth experience with mitigating risks in historic and culturally sensitive buildings and protecting irreplaceable collections.


Recording October 10, 2023 1 hour 2 minutes