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Chamber and committees

Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee


SFRS Investigation Report and the Glasgow School of Art

Background

Our predecessor Committee – the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations (CTEER) Committee – undertook an inquiry to ascertain what lessons could be learned from the second fire. The Committee’s report, The Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Building: The loss of a national treasure, was published in March 2019, and stated:

“The Committee considers from the evidence gathered that the Mackintosh fires raise a host of associated issues which go beyond the cause of the fire itself and as such require further examination.”

Furthermore, in its Legacy Report, published at the end of session 5, the CTEER Committee concluded:

The Committee's predecessor  – the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations (CTEER) Committee – undertook an inquiry to ascertain what lessons could be learned from the second fire. The Committee’s report, The Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Building: The loss of a national treasure, was published in March 2019, and stated:

“The Committee considers from the evidence gathered that the Mackintosh fires raise a host of associated issues which go beyond the cause of the fire itself and as such require further examination.”

Furthermore, in its Legacy Report, published at the end of session 5, the CTEER Committee concluded:

“The Committee highlights the recommendation, to a successor Committee, that after the conclusion of the SFRS investigation, the Scottish Government should establish a public inquiry with judicial powers into the 2014 and 2018 fires at the Glasgow School of Art. The inquiry should also examine the risks posed by fire in historic buildings nationally and the ability of custodians to manage these properties, drawing on the lessons learned from the GSA. In response to the Committee’s report, the Scottish Government committed to explore what options there may be to carry out a fire mitigation review of A listed buildings in public and major institutional ownership. The Committee understands this work is ongoing and is being carried out in conjunction with Historic Environment Scotland. Our successor may consider it appropriate to write requesting an update regarding this work.”

 

 


Correspondence

Letter from the Convener to the Cabinet Secretary, Angus Robertson MSP
7 February 2022

Dear Mr Robertson

I am writing to you following recent publication of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Fire (SFRS) Investigation Report into the second fire at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) Mackintosh building.

Our predecessor Committee – the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations (CTEER) Committee – undertook an inquiry to ascertain what lessons could be learned from the second fire. The Committee’s report, The Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Building: The loss of a national treasure, was published in March 2019, and stated:

“The Committee considers from the evidence gathered that the Mackintosh fires raise a host of associated issues which go beyond the cause of the fire itself and as such require further examination.”

Furthermore, in its Legacy Report, published at the end of session 5, the CTEER Committee concluded:

“The Committee highlights the recommendation, to a successor Committee, that after the conclusion of the SFRS investigation, the Scottish Government should establish a public inquiry with judicial powers into the 2014 and 2018 fires at the Glasgow School of Art. The inquiry should also examine the risks posed by fire in historic buildings nationally and the ability of custodians to manage these properties, drawing on the lessons learned from the GSA. In response to the Committee’s report, the Scottish Government committed to explore what options there may be to carry out a fire mitigation review of A listed buildings in public and major institutional ownership. The Committee understands this work is ongoing and is being carried out in conjunction with Historic Environment Scotland. Our successor may consider it appropriate to write requesting an update regarding this work.”

Having now considered the matter, my own Committee has agreed, in the first instance, to write to the Scottish Government requesting an update in light of the SFRS report.

We would welcome your response at the earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely

Clare Adamson MSP, Convener of the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee


Response from the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and External Affairs 
15th March 2022 

Dear Clare,


Thank you for your letter of 7 February 2022 on behalf of the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee, noting the recommendations of its predecessor Committee and seeking an update following the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s (SFRS) 2022 publication of their Investigation Report into the origin and cause of 2018 fire at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) Mackintosh building.

I acknowledge the huge effort and dedication of the SFRS to complete an incredibly challenging and complex investigation, which was completed as quickly as possible.
As you are aware, the SFRS report concluded that due to the extensive damage sustained at the site and physical evidence destroyed in the fire, it was unable to determine the likely origin and cause of the fire. This is despite consideration of a number of credible hypotheses against all available evidence.

Now the SFRS report has concluded, I have asked officials to revisit the 2019 Committee’s recommendations, and have asked them to work with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) in reviewing the existing advice and guidance for fire safety measures in historic buildings.

Following the outcome of the SFRS report HES expects its ‘Managing Change in the Historic Environment: Fire Safety Management’ guidance to be ready for consultation by the end of June 2022, aiming to publish the finalised document by Autumn 2022. HES’s Fire Safety INFORM guide is expected to be updated by Autumn 2022, and a new technical Short Guide ‘Fire Safety Management in Traditional Buildings’ by 2023.

Additionally following consultation, HES have updated their Grants Framework and are working on revised guidance for their repair grant schemes, which is expected to launch this summer. A significant change is that, in addition to historic fabric repairs and consolidation, HES will now be able to offer grants which will fund installation of fire suppression systems to protect highly significant and vulnerable historic fabric in some cases.

Furthermore, you will be interested to learn that SFRS will work with the relevant bodies with responsibilities for fire safety, and in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, so the recommendations made in their report can be taken forward.

As suggested by the Committee, the Scottish Government continues to carefully consider the benefit of establishing a public inquiry. I will write again to the Committee once we have reached a decision on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Angus Robertson 



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