Learning from Tragedy: What the Notre-Dame Fire Can Teach Us

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By Craig D. LaPine, Brandon A. Donatelli & Rachel Stewart
August 2019

On April 15, 2019, the world was captivated by images of smoke and flames rising from one of the most iconic buildings in the world:  the Cathedral at Notre-Dame. Hope quickly turned to despair as Notre-Dame’s spires collapsed while fire consumed the 850-year-old landmark.  In the end, the altruist in each of us dictates that we should be thankful that some of the cathedral was spared, that some of the relics from within were saved by quick-thinking clergy, and that only one person was seriously injured while fighting the fire.  But the analytical mind, combined with intellectual curiosity and a strong desire to avoid/prevent/mitigate similar events in the future should force us to ask (1) what happened? (2) how did it happen? and (3) how can we use what we have learned?  Incidents like this allow us to consider adopting disruptive technologies to mitigate existing/future risk, while simultaneously enhancing emergency preparedness capabilities, creating the ability to effectively communicate and manage