Scotland’s superhospital and the regulations preventing another Grenfell

I’m not 100% sure of this because I don’t know for certain what role Glasgow’s building inspector’s played here but, in the absence of evidence to suggest they were somehow excluded by the contract, as was the case with many capital projects under New Labour, the QEUH should be safe.

Here’s why:

First, the ‘chimney effect’ at Grenfell:

‘TV architect George Clarke said: “There’s a new cladding system put on the outsides (of the block of flats) that looks like a new skin. There’s an air gap, and insulation behind that; to me that looks like a fantastic chimney for the fire to rage around.”’

See this diagram:

The above air gap is not allowed on Scottish buildings. The Times explained in 2017, how the Scottish Government had clearly learned from a smaller though still tragic incident in 1999:

‘On June 11th, 1999, a disabled man was killed as a fire tore quickly through eight floors of the Scottish tower-block he was living in. Alexander Linton, 55, may not be widely remembered, but his death sparked a review of Scottish building regulations that may have saved lives. After exterior cladding on the council-owned tower block in Irvine was blamed for the rapid spread of the fire, Scottish rules were changed. Now the outside walls of buildings must be designed to “inhibit” the spread of fireand these requirements are backed up by a tough inspection regime.’

See also, this clarification from reader STU:

‘Can’t comment on English regs, but up here we require cavity barriers at each floor level, around door/window openings, at corners, and spaced at, for example, 6 metre centres. All designed to prevent the chimney effect and fire spreading through cavities.

And 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.

Gordon Darge.

For anyone wanting more info see

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