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Scottish government examines fire safety review

20 June 2018

INCREASING THE use of sprinkler systems and mandatory inspections are to be considered in Scotland to improve building safety following the advice of two expert panels.

Ministers will consult on the recommendations from Dr Paul Stollard and Professor John Cole’s reviews of building standards and fire safety. Dr Stollard was appointed to chair the Fire Regulations in Building Standards Review Group. His proposals include expanding the use of sprinkler systems in Houses in Multiple Occupancies (HMOs) that are used as care facilities.

Professor Cole, Chair of the Compliance and Enforcement in Building Standards Review Group, advised that changes to the completion certificate process are needed to drive building standard compliance of buildings critical safety aspects, and  that a national hub of building standards experts be established to oversee the verification of complex and high rise buildings.

Communities secretary Angela Constance said: “The Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety took place one year on from the Grenfell Tower fire where 72 people lost their lives and our thoughts remain with those affected by this tragedy at this difficult time. It has coordinated work to identify inappropriate cladding, reassure residents and enlist expert help to review the changes we need to make our building standards and fire advice safer.

“Professor Cole and Dr Stollard’s and work has shown that we are starting from a point of safety and we will move quickly to consult on their recommendations to create the most robust system possible that delivers even safer buildings.

“I would like to thank Dr Stollard, Professor Cole, their panel members, local authorities, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and everyone who has worked with us to reassure residents at a time of great uncertainty and continue to assist us to improve our systems and standards.”

Professor John Cole, Chair of Compliance and Enforcement in Building Standards Review Group, said: “I am very encouraged by the proactive response of the Scottish Government in seeking to address a number of weaknesses that have come to the fore in the current compliance with, and enforcement, of building standards.

“There has been a comprehensive review of the current system which has resulted in the development of a number of proposals which, if implemented, should restore any loss of confidence in the safety of our new buildings.”

Dr Paul Stollard, Chair of Fire Regulations in Building Standards Review Group, added: “It has been a privilege to chair such a distinguished review panel and I was delighted we could achieve a consensus on the way forward.

“Scotland has for years prohibited the use of the most combustible cladding materials. Our recommendations suggest ways of strengthening these controls while ensuring that innovation is still possible providing it is carefully checked by competent authorities.”

Dr Stollard and Professor Cole will now finalise their reports, which will be published for consultation in the coming weeks.

Other recommendations presented to Ministers include:

  • Creating a central hub to consider design and construction plans for high rise buildings and complex buildings, such as airports, hospitals etc;
  • The introduction of mandatory notifications and further expansion of completion certificates to include safety critical features of the building;
  • Introduction of new documented compliance plan approach from pre-application to completion stage; and
  • Greater emphasis and inspection on buildings that are complex or high rise, especially buildings where people sleep.

Practical Fire Safety Guidance for existing Non- Residential Premises with Sleeping Accommodation will be published later today, bringing together several pieces of guidance.

Work has also begun on collecting data to create an inventory of high rise buildings and a review of the fire safety regime for high rise residential buildings is expected later in the year.