Scotland's tower blocks surveyed for fire safety

The ‘Chimney Effect’

The Scottish Government has just published it’s High Rise Inventory after a:

‘review of building and fire safety regulatory frameworks, and any other relevant matters, to help ensure that people are safe in Scotland’s buildings, and make any recommendations for improvement as required.’

This, of course, follows in the wake of the Grenfell disaster in London in 2017. Readers may remember previous reports here discussing the ‘chimney effect’s role in the tower block being consumed so quickly. Several readers wrote to confirm that Scottish tower blocks are constructed so as to prevent this effect.

The Inventory, points out, reassuringly (?):

‘Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) panels are identified in a small number
of buildings (7%, 51 buildings) where information was provided. Of these,
23 buildings reported polyethylene type ACM panels (ACM-PE), a combustible materialThirteen buildings reported an alternative type of ACM, of which six buildings reported limited area spandrel panels with unknown fire classification and three buildings with panels in lift lobbies and stairwells.’

https://www.gov.scot/publications/high-rise-inventory-summary-report/

The chimney effect is, however, not mentioned even once in its 15 pages nor are ‘cavity fire barriers’ mentioned. Reader Gordon Darge identified these as key in ‘chimney effect’ prevention, in January 2020. Perhaps the authors take these as a given?

This cannot happen in Scotland

From reader Gordon Darge:

As a chartered architect in Scotland for 40 years I can confirm that the Building Regulations Technical Standards Scotland have for two decades required cavity fire barriers

2.4 Cavities
Mandatory Standard
Standard 2.4
Every building must be designed and constructed in such a way that in the event of an outbreak of fire within the building, the spread of fire and smoke within cavities in its structure and fabric is inhibited.

This includes for example, around the head, jambs and sill of an external door or window opening, at all floor levels and building corners etc. to prevent the spread of fire in building cavities. This would have prevented the spread of the fire at Grenfell Tower.

This is difficult and expensive to achieve and I can only guess that in England they did not follow the Scottish model because Westminster and the Tories were led by the vested interests of big business, property developers and large construction firms.

For anyone wanting more info see
https://www.gov.scot/publications/building-standards-technical-handbook-2019-domestic/2-fire/2-4-cavities/

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