Scottish government announces fire safety changes

Scottish government announces fire safety changes

THE GOVERNMENT has ‘strengthened’ fire safety and building standards, including ‘more stringent’ provisions for external cladding systems, additional escape stairs and evacuation alert systems.

In a release, the Scottish government said fire safety ‘is to be strengthened’ in new high rise buildings, with changes to building standards including ‘more stringent’ provisions for external wall cladding systems. The changes, which will come into force on 1 October, also include additional escape stairs and the introduction of evacuation alert systems, alongside storey identification signs to help fire and rescue services ‘in the unlikely event of a partial or full-scale evacuation’.

The new guidance also lowers the minimum building height at which non combustible external cladding should be provided, from 18m to 11m. However, it was noted that the government had agreed to ‘defer the introduction’ of automatic fire suppression systems until 2021 in all new build flats, houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) with ‘care 24/7’ and larger HMOs with over 10 residents ‘to align with our commitment to introduce’ such systems in new build social housing.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: ‘The tragic events at Grenfell Tower just over two years ago was a painful reminder how important building and fire safety is. That is why we established our Ministerial Working Group and undertook a thorough and critical review of the regulations we have in place. I’m pleased to see the first phase of this work completed and changes to the building standards and guidance published today.’

In 2017 the government released new fire safety guidance in the wake of Grenfell, launching a consultation and announcing chairs for the two review groups. Last year it amended smoke and fire alarm regulations, proposed retrofitting of sprinklers and later made it mandatory for them to be installed in all new social housing. The new measures announced to be coming in from October were foreshadowed late in 2018, while a government consultation on high rise fire safety was also launched earlier this year.