ECCE - emergency plans
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In November 2007, 33 heritage administration institutes from Antwerp, Mechelen, Leuven and Ghent, which included eight churches together embarked on a project for the prevention of disasters. The project was named ECCE which in Dutch means "First aid for disasters affecting cultural heritage objects". The project, managed by OPTIMIT, is a joint effort of the non-profit organisation of the Monumental Churches of Antwerp, the Heritage Institutes of Antwerp, Mechelen, Leuven and Ghent as well as the support group FARO. The Cathedral of Our Lady and the churches of St Andrew, St Charles Borromeo, St James and St Paul assure Antwerp's participation.
Institutes which manage cultural heritage have to take various risks into account. The most dangerous are fire, theft and vandalism. However, mould in the archives or woodworm in churches can also cause a great deal of damage. Preventive measures are necessary but also procedures to be followed and actions to be taken in case of a disaster, as well as a plan to limit damage afterwards, all in collaboration with the police and the fire brigade.
The 33 participating institutes wish to consolidate their experience by collaborating with each other. They can also call upon the help of other institutes in case of need. After nine months they all presented their own emergency plans with great pride. For Antwerp this took place on the October 13, 2008.


Walter Vrinssen (Chairman MCA), Leon Smets (consultant Preservation and Administration FARO), Peter De Wilde (chief of staff for the ministry of culture)

Ludo Helsen (delegate for culture), Claire Baisier (coordinator Monumental Churches Antwerp)

The forum consisted of Inge Vandijck (Optimit), Leon Smets (FARO), Oscar Provoost (St Paul's church), Madeleine Manderyck (Agency immovables cultural heritage), Erich Mortelmans (Fire brigade Antwerp); Jo Briels gives commentary on the video about the fire of 1968.

The safety officers receive their certificates from the governor of Antwerp Cathy Berx: Maarten van Zanten (Cathedral), Jan Hubert (St Andrew's church), Marc Hesbain (St Charles Borromeo's church), Guy Wyffels (St James' church), Oscar Provoost (St Paul's church).

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