Immediate response to London College of Fashion
Document SOS Ltd provided a rapid response when the London College of Fashion reported that some of its special collection had been damaged in a flood. Karen Ellis-Rees, Learning Resources Manager at LCF was impressed by the speed of the response and professionalism of the Document SOS team. Trained conservators arrived on site and within a day had brought 25 crates of material back to be freeze vacuum dried, and further material for select air drying.
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1 October 2003

“There was no time and in panic and desperation I was throwing Sevres china cups and saucers out of the third floor window in the hope that some of it might bounce.”

This is typical of an incident with no disaster recovery plan – why should there be – disasters always happen to other people. How many of us have any idea or plans of what to grab and what to leave in a disaster scenario?

Whilst disaster planning has been a priority for museums and galleries for many years a great many private collections and high net worth households do not have any kind of disaster response plan. However, following the high profile fires at Windsor castle and Uppark House there has been a marked increase in interest in being more prepared. The brokers insuring these properties appreciate the immense savings that a disaster plan can make to a claim following a fire or flood and having a properly prepared plan in place can make considerable savings to insurance premiums.

An expert risk assessment is also important before drawing up a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. Membership of Document SOS provides both these services and the guarantee that should disaster strike, an expert team will be on site within a matter of hours to minimise damage and set up the restoration procedures. On average 100% of water damaged documents are fully restored. Approximately 95% of smoke or fire damaged documents can be fully restored.

Document SOS has more than ten years’ experience in this field working on many risk assessments for private and museum collections and handling a number of incidents requiring the expertise of specialist paper conservators used to large recovery programmes of valuable historical material.

Moving damaged historical or delicate material is a specialised operation – time is of the essence and yet infinite care must be taken. Priority salvage schedules are critical to reducing damage and identifying advance the most valuable or vital items in a collection. These schedules are drawn up in advance and are included in the Disaster Recovery Manual. The optimal way forward for both the insured and insurer is to build in this immediate response into the insurance policy. The costs of recovery are small compared to the restoration costs from increased damage for delayed response and indecision. Once the material has been stablised then estimates can be sought for the restoration process which could include frozen storage, decontamination, select air drying, freeze vacuum drying among other specialist services.

Document SOS’s highly trained conservators can treat all types of paper, parchment, artwork, maps, paintings and historical documents. They can arrest on-going acid attack and discolouration and can buffer against future environment degradation. Each assignment is analysed individually taking into account pigments, inks and paper types. Conservation techniques are used to repair physical damage and the company also offers a specialist repair bookbinding service and storage advice. Document SOS offers a comprehensive range of services and a prioritised document tracking system to ensure business continuity. Membership of the Document SOS scheme provides organisations with reassurance that an expert will be on site within a few hours of a disaster for an expert review and treatment. The Company is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and carries out detailed risk assessments and the service is bespoke to each organisation. Document SOS is ISO 9001 registered and has been awarded Millennium Product status.

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