Case Study: Salisbury House

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff March 1, 2007

The Salisbury House, an architectural gem in Des Moines, Iowa, is home to original manuscripts of some of history’s most enduring names including Abraham Lincoln and Queen Elizabeth I, as well as first edition prints of the King James Bible and works by Ernest Hemingway and D.H. Lawrence.

The Salisbury House was built in 1923-1928 by financier Carl Weeks and modeled after King George V’s house in Salisbury, England. Over the course of five years, architects and engineers from all over the United Sates were hired to painstakingly recreate every feature of the Tudor-style mansion. The paintings, sculptures, and intricate wood paneling have been preserved through the 20thcentury, and given the cultural importance of the Salisbury House, the Salisbury House Foundation set out to invest in protecting it with an advanced fire suppression technology.

To protect more than 2,200 rare books and 700 original letters, manuscripts and documents, Tyco’s Fire Suppression Group, a division of Tyco Fire and Security, Boca Raton, Fla., installed Ansul Sapphire Fire Suppression System in the house library.

The fluid looks similar to water, but does not cause the type of damage associated with water when putting out a fire. It can be used to protect artwork, electronic equipment and other delicate items without causing anyharm. The system chemically interferes with the fire combustion process, therefore bringing it to a halt.It also works faster than a water sprinkler system, which is designed to work when it detects an actual flame.

The system detects fire at

The installation was completed in January of 2006. To confirm the system was functioning with absolute accuracy, the Fire Suppression Group performed a room integrity test. This included a smoke test and a fan test to identify any leaks in the room. Onsite to observe the test were representatives from the Des Moines Fire Department. In the future, the Fire Suppression Group will administer a site inspection every six months.

As a result of the installation, the museum has not only enjoyed substantial ROI by way of reduced insurance premiums, and most importantly, in the event of a fire, Salisbury’s most rare and valuable books will be protected.

For more about Ansul Sapphire and Tyco Fire Suppression Group, click here .