CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.—Nov. 14, 2012- The Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello has installed a Marioff HI-FOG® water mist fire suppression system as part of its ongoing efforts to protect Jefferson’s iconic home. The Foundation was incorporated in 1923 to restore and preserve Monticello. Marioff, part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), is a leading provider of water mist fire protection technology and supplier of system solutions worldwide.
During his lifetime Thomas Jefferson was no stranger to the devastation of fire. On February 1, 1770, Jefferson’s boyhood home, Shadwell, was destroyed by fire. As Jefferson wrote to his friend John Page, he lamented the loss “of every paper I had in the world, and almost every book. On a reasonable estimate I calculate the cost of the books burned to have been £200. sterling.”
Another house was built on the property, but Jefferson never again lived at Shadwell. He instead concentrated his efforts on Monticello. A self-taught architect, Jefferson referred to Monticello as his "essay in architecture," and construction continued on the mountaintop for 40 years. The final product is a unique blend of beauty and function that combines the best elements of the ancient and old worlds with a fresh American perspective.
In 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote to George Gilmer, "I am as happy no where else and in no other society, and all my wishes end, where I hope my days will end, at Monticello. Too many scenes of happiness mingle themselves with all the recollections of my native woods and feilds to suffer them to be supplanted in my affection by any other."
Monticello is the only U.S. presidential and private home on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List, selected along with the University of Virginia. The World Heritage Convention stated that the sites “represent a masterpiece of human creative genius” and “exhibit an important interchange of human values.” Over the past 89 years, the Foundation has restored the house, returned many of the original furnishings and collections, and hosted more than 27 million visitors from around the world.
As part of its ongoing mission of preservation and education, the Foundation recently updated Monticello’s fire suppression system. They had determined that the prior system, although diligently maintained, upgraded and evaluated had reached the end of its reasonable lifespan. The Foundation collaborated with Marioff to upgrade the conventional sprinkler system to a HI-FOG water mist fire suppression system, which was commissioned in April.
The HI-FOG system provides more effective protection in terms of containing fires and is far less damaging to art and artifacts. Sensitive to the environment, the system uses up to 90 percent less water than a conventional sprinkler system and uses smaller, less obtrusive, stainless steel pipes to enhance aesthetics and offers an additional benefit of being rated for a longer service period.
The Monticello house and its visitors are now protected from fire while the historical artifacts inside are protected from the water damage caused by conventional sprinklers. A HI-FOG gas pump unit (GPU) serves as the central component of a self-contained system that does not need external power for operation and comes equipped with its own water source. Small water tanks containing potable water coupled with compressed gas cylinders used to power the system are hidden within Monticello and custom painted, precision machined sprinkler heads are discretely deployed in each room.
Marioff’s HI-FOG system has been used to protect a wide variety of cultural heritage buildings including Garrett Hall at the University of Virginia. The system has also been used to preserve presidential sites for future generations including three other U.S. presidential homes.
“Monticello is an architectural treasure, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a symbol of Jefferson’s enlightenment ideals. Upgrading this fire suppression system is just another way to protect Monticello for future generations,” said Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.
“Marioff is honored to be entrusted with protecting Monticello, a prestigious National Historic Landmark,” said James McGuinness, director, marketing, Marioff North America. “The benefits of the HI-FOG system — low water usage, compact components and long system lifetime— provide a sustainable solution for this cultural heritage treasure.”
Funding for the cost of the new fire protection system was made possible by the support of the Roller-Bottimore Foundation, the Thomas F. Jeffress Memorial Trust, and individual donors.
Images of Monticello:
• Monticello Entrance Hall: © Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, photograph by Robert Lautman
• Monticello Cabinet: © Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, photograph by Robert C. Lautman
• Monticello West Front: © Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, photograph by Mary Porter
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Thomas Jefferson Foundation was incorporated in 1923 to preserve Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Virginia. Monticello is now recognized as a National Historic Landmark and a United Nations World Heritage Site. As a private, nonprofit organization, the Foundation receives no regular federal or state budget support for its twofold mission of preservation and education. About 440,000 people visit Monticello each year. For information, visit www.monticello.org.
Marioff is the leading developer of water mist fire protection technology and supplies system solutions worldwide and is a part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp., a leading provider to the aerospace and building systems industries worldwide. More information about Marioff is available at www.marioff.com.