A brief look at Nitrate testing and storage History.
The written portion of this section will be very brief. I am including a link to some wonderful photos I located many years ago.
One of the things it might surprise some people to learn is that the knowledge of Nitrate Film inherent dangers were well known from the industry's infancy. Besides what many people consider to be Nitrates Films superior Optical qualities, in the early days there was no viable alternative film base that proved satisfactory. While some "Safety Bases were touted, initially either for economic or physical property reasons it was decided to stick with Nitrate. Serious testing on Nitrate Film began in earnest as early as 1915 with testing sponsored by the National Board of Fire Underwriters. This came about after some high profile Film Fires such as the Ferguson Building fire of 1909 where the U.S Geological Survey Explosives unit became involved. Beginning in the 1920' The Society of Motion Picture Engineers began addressing this issue in some published works listeed in its Transactions of the S.M.P.E and Later S.M.P.E Journal. In the 1930's the S.M.P.E. formed a Preservation Committee which provided a lot of information for policies adapted by the U.S.National Archives Motion Picture Division for the Storage and Handling of Motion Picture Film. Beginning in the mid 1930's a joint effort between the National Bureau of Standards, The Library of Congress, and the National Archives culminated in a series of tests conducted at the NBS Beltsville Facility. A test Film Vault was constructed, with a sprinkler system installed as well as top and side blow out vents to provided releases of build up of any gases. Much data was compiled and used to develop as a guideline for developments in building the Archives New Storage Vaults. Here is a link to a series of photos from test conducted in the 1940's. Nitrate Vault Tests
Part 4 will be a summary of all these events listed in the first 3 parts.