Scottish high-rises have been protected against ‘large scale fire’ since 2005 and new regulations will make all buildings safer

(c) Architects Journal

In the Guardian on Tuesday:

A screenshot of a social media post

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Two and a half years since Grenfell, it is a silent scandal how little has changed. The images of the cladding crackling and dripping from the Bolton student block is a shameful reminder that thousands of homes are still not safe. There have been eight significant residential fires since Grenfell. And today tens of thousands of people are still living in buildings wrapped in dangerous combustible materials. It’s on our homes, our hospitals, our care homes and our schools.

In Scotland:

In a parliamentary question at Holyrood on Monday, David Stewart (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Labour) asked the Scottish Government what plans it has to ban combustible materials on the outside of high-rise or high-risk buildings.

The answer was reassuring contrast to the lack of comparable action in England:

From 1 May 2005, Scottish building regulations have required cladding on domestic buildings with any storey over 18 metres to be non-combustible or to pass a large-scale fire test (BS 8414 and BR 135).

The Scottish Government have just completed a review of building regulations. Advice from the national and international panel of experts was that there was no need to change mandatory standard 2.7 that requires fire spread on the external walls of a building to be inhibited. Guidance that came into force on 1 October embraces a range of measures to improve fire safety which will make Scotland’s high-rise buildings even safer. These include:

• Further restricting the use of combustible materials on taller buildings, applying provisions that previously applied to buildings over 18 metres to all buildings over 11 metres to align with fire-fighting from the ground;

• Tighter controls over the combustibility of cladding systems on hospitals, residential care buildings, entertainment and assembly buildings regardless of building height;

• Introducing evacuation sound alerts, floor and dwelling indicator signs and two escape stairs in all new high-rise domestic buildings.

We have also made a commitment to introduce a mandatory requirement to install sprinkler systems in all new build flats, certain multi-occupancy dwellings and social housing from 2021.

Click to access WA20191202.pdf

5 thoughts on “Scottish high-rises have been protected against ‘large scale fire’ since 2005 and new regulations will make all buildings safer”

  1. I note that the legislation dates from 2005, which was when Labour and the Lib Dems formed the Scottish Executive (as the SG was called then.) That the question in 2019 came from a Labour MSP, who did not make reference to the 2005 regulations makes me wonder why the question was asked.


    1. Were the 2005 regulations not brought in as the result of a fire in a high-rise block in Scotland? I can’t remember the exact details.


      1. Yes, there was a fire in a 14 storey block in Irvine and the cladding appears to have been a factor in the spread. An enquiry was established, which reported with recommendations in 2000, with regulations enacted in 2005. The former Labour MP for the area, Mr Brian Donohue, quoted as recently as 2017, stated that as a result of these regulations there were no multi-storey blocks in Scotland with cladding which did not resist fire.

        So, why was a Labour MSP asking such a question?


  2. Alasdair,
    Because he has to justify his salary somehow?
    Because he never bothered to do any research around the subject before asking the question?
    Because if, heaven forbid, anything untoward were to happen then this wee nugget has been squirreled away for future use in just such an event?

    Take your pick. Feel free to add to them


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