I repeat – there will be no Grenfell tragedy in Scotland because….

In the Herald today:

MINISTERS have spent less that £250,000 on dealing with ‘dangerous’ cladding across Scotland five years after the Grenfell tragedy as concerns surface that new code of practice means it will not be replaced, it has been revealed. The worries have been raised after relatives of those who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire mourned their losses on the fifth anniversary on Tuesday.

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/20220406.ministers-spend-just-250-000-preventing-scottish-grenfell-five-years-tragic-blaze/

We hear, accurately I’m sure, that there more than 400 public building in Scotland clad in inflammable material and that some have raised concerns.

We’ve been here before several times.

There need be no concerns in Scotland. Why? Here’s why:

A Grenfell incident cannot happen here because of our more strict building regulations.

The evidence is recent from a fire in 2021 which was contained within one floor and had no casualties:

According to BBC Scotland earlier two weeks ago:

Residents of a multi-storey block of flats in Glasgow had to be evacuated after a fire broke out on the 17th floor. Fire crews were called to the block on Lincoln Avenue in the Knightswood area of the city at 04:08. Residents were safely removed from the building by the fire service and there were no casualties. A total of nine fire appliances attended the incident which took about five hours to bring under full control. A spokeswoman for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: “Operations control mobilised nine appliances to Lincoln Avenue where the fire was affecting the 17th floor of the multi-storey block of flats.” The spokeswoman said residents from the 17th and 18th floors were removed and the fire has been extinguished.

No towering inferno; how did that happen we wonder?

Apologies to regulars but I see from my Twitter poll this morning that 20% only started with TuS in 2021.

Onlookers wondered why the fire did not spread to other floors. Here are some reasons we posted last year:

The Chimney Effect

This cannot happen in Scotland

As I understand it, it is not so much the flammability of the material used as the construction of the external cladding to deny the spread of fire via a chimney effect.

Reader Gordon Darge wrote for us in January 2020:

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/

And in December 2019, we were able to report:

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.

And before that:

  1. From the Scottish Government news website in February 2019:

‘New rules to reduce deaths in household fires have been announced today, with improved standards introduced for fire and smoke alarms in Scottish homes.  The improved standards will mean every home in the country must have a smoke alarm fitted in the living room or lounge, and in circulation spaces such as hallways and landings. The changes also mean every kitchen must have a heat alarm, and the alarms will have to be interlinked so they can be heard throughout the property. There must also be a carbon monoxide alarm where there are fixed combustion appliances. The new rules mean the standard which currently applies to private rented property and newbuilds is being extended to all homes in Scotland. The regulations come after a consultation carried out following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in London in June 2017.’

https://news.gov.scot/news/new-fire-safety-standards-for-scottish-homes

  1. From BBC UK News in December 2018:

‘Fire safety checks across England have fallen by 42% over the last seven years, according to the new watchdog for fire and rescue services. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services says brigades do a good job in emergencies, but amid cuts have reduced “vital” prevention work. The watchdog said the number of audits carried out by firefighters dropped from 84,575 in 2010-11 to 49,423 in 2017-18.’https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46627987?ns_mchannel=social&ocid=socialflow_twitter&ns_source=twitter&ns_campaign=bbcnews

  1. From the Scottish Government, published in August 2018:

‘The number of fire safety audits carried out in 2015/16 was 9,829. Most of the premises audited by the SFRS have relatively adequate fire safety measures and are categorised as ‘broadly compliant’ (9,180 audits: 93%). While 79% (7,779 audits) of the premises audited have average or low levels of relative risk.’

In Scotland 2015/16, 9 827 safety audits were carried out. England has 10 times the population and so, all things being equal, might have been expected to have seen 98 270 fire safety audits. However, in 2017/18, England saw only 49 423 fire safety audits, just over half the number. Fire safety audits in Scotland are thus almost twice as common, per head of population, in Scotland as in England.

Why? Cost-cutting Tory local authorities? Cost-cutting Tory central government?

  1. Two earlier reports perhaps still of interest here:

‘Stricter [fire] safety rules leave Scotland out of danger’ The English media spot the difference. Did BBC Scotland?

‘High rise fires in Scotland at lowest level in eight years

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9 thoughts on “I repeat – there will be no Grenfell tragedy in Scotland because….

  1. This is the Herald selecting a figure, presenting it out of context and juxtaposing it with the murderous tragedy of Grenfell Tower. It does not indicate what the money has been spent on, nor does it report the kinds of things you have done.

    The Herald journalists, of course, could not give a monkey’s about the Grenfell residents, nor, indeed, about tenants in tower blocks in Scotland.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. This is as what we have come to expect from the Brit Nat media that is simply designed to cause unwarranted fear and alarm. Utterly despicable and clearly has scant regard for residents in Scotland’s high rise homes that will be unduly worried.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. John on another related matter you meantioned after returning from your self imposed sabbatical many months ago that you feared you were not reaching out but to give you an example…. a good friend of my wife’s (who she had not seen for many years) had expressed dismay at the SNP Gov as she got all her ‘news’ from the Radio and Daily Mail but having now been ‘enlightened’ by ‘your blogs’ has changed her stance. So yes your efforts are not going unrewarded.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Do you not think it particularly suspicious for the Herald to launch such an article at this time ?

    Beyond being instructed to redouble efforts to find something/anything to throw at the SG in response to the Indyref2 getting up a head of steam, we are now in the long delayed (deliberately ?) technical phase of the Grenfell Inquiry, where they finally get to the mechanics of the fire, which will without doubt include the “Chimney Effect” led to the tragedy, better described as murder or manslaughter.

    I am not for a moment disputing Scotland’s Building Regs are to a higher standard, but despite what any building standards say, the building inspector and/or fire officer may apply more stringent requirements as they see fit EVEN IN ENGLAND.

    This is where we keep being pointed at various interesting squirrels to miss the entire point over Grenfell which is glaringly obvious. It was NOT in Scotland, it was NOT anywhere else in England, it was in Tory Central KENSINGTON.
    – This tragedy was caused by nothing more than political dogma, the “let’s do away with the red tape, get rid of or sideline the building and fire inspectors, they just get in the way, what ?”
    72 people died because of Kensington Tory Councillors looking to political dogma rather than logic. And are almost certain to get away with it.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. John, my little but growing group
    ‘Scottish News and other wee stories’ would b half the group it is if it weren’t for your posts.
    I missed you so much .

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I was reminded of the strange and unexplained fires of the past two or more years, such as the Glasgow school of art, the Scottish Crannog centre, the hugely important and internationally recognised Dark Sky Observatory in Galloway forest park, and the 150 year old Polish church in Glasgow, all burnt to the ground. No one has a clue about how they happened, all happened at night, no persons were hurt, but, they were all tourist attractions, important sites for science and the arts and Scottish cultural heritage, all gone.

    I fear that the BritNat media would welcome a tower block fire in Scotland, they’d have a political bashing SNP fest and a field day and would not care if people died. You can see stats of fires in Scotland by going to ‘firescotland.gov.uk’ and here is data for all crimes in Scotland which I just found via ScotGov, including fires, 2020-2021, but graphs/info go back to the 1970’s.
    https://www.gov.scot/publications/recorded-crime-scotland-2020-2021/pages/3/

    Like

  7. Cut to the chase here
    Before Neo Liberalism
    The Grenfell project would have been conducted as all public work projects had been carried out with great success for many a long year
    How Then
    1.The empowering Authority Kensington and Chelsea council ( The client and paymaster )
    2.The above would either have conducted the works inhouse or Sub Contacted out
    3.No matter who a specific type of contract selected and deployed in order to ensure that the works were conducted in time,on budget, to Specification ( That is central and vital )
    All to the clients requirements
    So for sake of comparison in this instance use that of a ICE 5th edition of contract
    Selected and deployed from tender invite to contract completion
    So as soon as Tenders issued a Engineer in Charge appointed, who has overriding and considerable powers from thereon
    One of which is to reject personnel,Materials and methods and if the Client rejects his power and Authority then the Engineer in charge MUST resign his brief immediately, this fully protects all parties involved and should any wish to proceed then it is entirely at their own legal peril entirely
    Given this there is no doubt whatsoever that this cladding would never even been ordered far less installed
    NOW fast forward 40 yrs of Neo liberal capitalism
    1.Client appoints a managing contractor
    Note not at any time does this absolve the Client of their duties or responsibilities
    2.Managing contractor appoints Lead Architect/Engineer
    3. Above must demonstrate clear expertise and knowledge in order to discharge their duties
    4.Type of contract selected
    Tenders issued and return scrutinised, appoint lead contractor
    Now this is where it all starts to go trachigally wrong
    It was a Design and Build contract inherently having Value Engineering within it
    So
    1.A cladding chosen, approved and installed
    Certified as completed and paid for and all contractual responsibilities discharged accordingly and only client
    Protection left is a 10 yr warranty as a ” Duty of Care ”
    The value engineering with regards the lethal cladding saved the main contractor £ 674 k of which only £ 300 k was passed back to the client
    No one knows how much the manufacturer made or passed on by offering a inferior product that totally failed to comply with the contract specifications
    Conclusions
    1.This situation would have been impossible to arise if ICE 5th edition contract used
    2.The client and their rate payers along with Central government saved £ 300k
    3.Tragic loss of live and ongoing suffering of survivors
    4.Over 1 million other properties in England and Wales now lethal and worthless
    5.Final Bill well over £300 Billion
    And all for a saving of £ 300 k to the public purse
    No doubt jail sentences Must be handed out for willfull and knowing actions that led to
    Manslaughter
    To whom
    1.Some from the client for complete negligence
    2.Managing contractor for same
    3.Cladding sub contractor for same and conspiracy to
    Defraud and deceive
    As for the Manufacturer
    He walks as he was only doing what was asked from him, despite being in full knowledge of the serious potential consequencies
    Now apply all this to governance to todays pressing impending climate change
    And that is exactly why as
    Sargeant Fraser would put it
    ” We are all doomed ”
    Never ever is Greed a good thing.Such Always ends in grief

    Liked by 2 people

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