Glasgow School of Art fire crews’ bravery revealed

Firefighters have revealed the remarkable lengths they went to in a bid to save the historic Glasgow School of Art from a devastating blaze.

GSA staff work alongside the fire brigade and Historic Scotland to salvage artwork. Picture: Hemedia

As staff continued to clear works of art from the ash and rubble from the fire-ravaged Mackintosh Building, more details about the battle to preserve the iconic have come to light.

More than 100 firefighters practically formed a human shield on each floor of the A-listed building as the inferno took hold.

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Senior officers at Cowcaddens Fire Station described how they initially began to search for two people reported missing.

Once it was discovered they were safe, a massive operation to stop the blaze from spreading was mounted.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer David Goodhew said: “It is always difficult fighting a fire in a Grade 1-listed buildings as the priority is always to try and preserve the structure.

“The Art School was always going to present us with a challenge and we knew it would be a hugely complex challenge.

“It is not a building designed with fire safety in mind and the things that make it so attractive, like the wooden panels, offer firefighters a significant challenge.

“We decided to fight it from the inside very quickly and although sending people into a burning building is a risk, there are some operations that require extra risks – and the Art School is one of them.

“We were all acutely aware of the building’s heritage and how much it is loved by the people of Scotland, so we had a duty to preserve as much as we could.”

Area Commander Paul Tanzilli added: “There was more a risk with this one, but we immediately decided to set up a human shield to contain the fire to the West Wing.

“The bravery of the crews involved was just remarkable. They never flinched.”

It has been estimated a restoration project could last up to four years and cost up to £20 million.

The blaze destroyed the Glasgow School of Art’s world-famous library designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.