In June 2009 the Fire Safety Engineering group from The University of Edinburgh begun the challenge of scanning more than 40,000 documents previously located in the BRE Fire Research Archive at the BRE headquarters in Watford. The BRE Fire Research Archive contained documents published during the early and mid-20th century, in almost every topic related to Fire Science, opinion sheared by the few ones that have gone through some of the tens of thousands of documents. A previous description of this project was blogged at an earlier stage.
For the last two years the Fire Safety Engineering group has developed a, postgraduate student-led, self-funded, project to scan these documents, making them available online for the entire fire community at the Digital Preservation of the FRS/BRE Fire Research Archives open access collection from the Edinburgh Research Archive.
To date, the progress of this project has only been possible thanks to the time and resources selflessly given by Kate Anderson, Susan Deeny, Guillermo Rein, Ania Grupka, Tao Gao, Natalia Mambrilla, John Gales, Agustin Majdalani, Marcin Gorączniak, Sarah Higginson, Iris Chang, Frances Radford, Aleksandra Danielewicz and others members of the Fire Safety Engineering group (undergraduate, postgraduates, staff members and visitors), which have participated in some way or another. The support of Theo Andrew, co-developer of the open access and open source Edinburgh Research Archive, has been also been of immense help.
Some time ago, John Gales, PhD student from the Fire Safety Engineering group, come across a file containing World War II fire safety propaganda posters design and printed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in Boston, Massachusetts, between 1942 and 1944. The single act of finding the posters was a gift on John’s behave, to the entire fire community, which would have otherwise be lost with time. The posters went through a high quality scanning process and then uploaded into the open access collection. The rareness of the posters found by John was something unique, and like this, many other documents have been found and uploaded into the online collection.
The project is now expanding fast and the Digital Preservation of the FRS/BRE Fire Research Archives online open access collection has now 291 documents, which is expected to reach 500 during the first semester of 2012, being this just the tip of the iceberg of what can be achieved.
Thanks to Guillermo for being the driving force and common denominator throughout the project.