Glasgow School of Art blaze ‘shows need for nationwide action’

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A review of the fire safety arrangements at Scotland’s historic buildings should be undertaken following the Glasgow School of Art blaze, a leading fire safety expert has said.

Guidance on fire safety should be updated, fire protection measures should be examined, and modern alarm and sprinkler systems installed, according to Stephen Mackenzie, an independent fire safety and emergency planning consultant.

Glasgow School of Art was devastated by fire for the second time in four years earlier this month. Picture: John Devlin

Glasgow School of Art was devastated by fire for the second time in four years earlier this month. Picture: John Devlin

Other great buildings in Glasgow including the Alexander “Greek” Thomson church in St Vincent Street, are also susceptible to fire, said Mackenzie, who has advised on historic building projects and is an ambassador for the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. He urged the Scottish Government to conduct the review.

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He said: “I think there should be a review of fire safety in Scotland’s historic buildings. We need to update our recommendations and guidance and to make some sort of statutory provision to get people to look at not only life saving, but property protection in our category one listed assets.

“The review should look at fire protection measures and arson control. We need to look at preventative and evacuation strategies. We also need to look at modern alarm and sprinkler systems.”

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The second major fire in four years at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece, when it was on the verge of restoration, has been deeply distressing. Hopes the remains of the Glasgow School of Art can be restored again have been voiced. But the damage has been devastating.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Historic buildings are already required to meet statutory fire safety requirements set by building standards, insurers and other regulations that apply to all buildings. In addition, Historic Environment Scotland, as the lead public body for Scotland’s historic environment, provides advice to owners of listed and historic buildings, and  publishes detailed guidance on fire safety management for historic buildings, which set out the principles that should be applied.

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“This includes looking at all viable options for historic buildings, based on the individual requirements of the building, including fire suppression and sprinkler systems.”